How Companies and Candidates Can Prepare for Remote Hiring & Virtual Interviews
Whether you’re a candidate preparing for a remote interview or a company looking to make its first remote hire, this article shares best practices to help make the process go smoothly.
- Is it common for companies to hire employees without meeting them in-person?
- What are the advantages of remote hiring for companies and candidates?
- What should candidates do to prepare for virtual interviews?
- How can companies ensure remote interviews run smoothly?
- Do companies plan to revert to in-person interviews moving forward?
After reading this article, you’ll have a stronger understanding of how the recruitment process and the mindsets of recruiters have evolved in the past year.
If you’re a recruiter and still hesitant to lean into remote hiring, you’ll benefit from the positive perspectives of others.
If you’re a candidate, you’ll be able to leverage these insights to help you better prepare for virtual interviews.
Is it common for companies to hire employees without meeting them in-person?
All ten of the recruiters and hiring managers we spoke to have hired candidates across many experience levels using a 100% virtual interview process.
Although much of the interview process has gone virtual, many employees still expect to meet with someone at the company face-to-face before officially joining.
However, that’s simply no longer happening as frequently due to the pandemic – even when hiring senior-level employees.
“I hired a total of eight employees remotely without having met them face-to-face… from executive staff to administrative staff,” said Chris Erhardt, Co-Founder & CEO of Tunedly.
Bret Bonnet, Co-Founder & President of Quality Logo Products, has also hired seven candidates remotely.
“Every one of our candidates – whether it’s a temporary or permanent role – is going through [the remote hiring] process,” added Tom Maffettone, President of Innovo Staffing, an accountancy and administrative staffing firm.
“I only have one client who has met their candidate face-to-face before hiring them,” he explained.
What are the advantages of remote hiring for companies and candidates?
A fully-remote hiring process gives companies access to a wider applicant pool and can result in a more streamlined interview process while providing equally effective results.
Candidates, too, see increased opportunity and time savings.
Benefits for Companies
1) Wider applicant pool
When hiring for location-independent roles, companies can leverage remote interviews to access a much larger base of applicants.
“Since I didn’t have to look locally for candidates, my pool of talent within my budget was a lot larger,” explained Erhardt.
2) Streamlined interview process & cost savings
With appropriate tools in place, a remote interview process allows for a more efficient and cost-effective interview process.
Remote interviews eliminate several time-consuming interview components, including:
- Waiting for candidates who arrived late
- Providing a tour of the office
- Scheduling buffer time between interviewees
- Commuting to the office to host an interview
In addition, going virtual removes the cost of reimbursing candidates for transportation costs or treating them to lunch, for example.
3) Equally effective results
A transition to remote hiring might raise questions as to whether the calibre of candidates will remain the same or whether their on-the-job performance might suffer.
Recruiters we spoke to noted that the length of the interview process itself and the ability of hiring managers to make effective hiring decisions have remained very much the same.
Maffettone described his experience of working with companies who have hired candidates during COVID.
Every candidate they hired and held Zoom interviews with are still working for that client.
A Zoom interview is not a deterrent in being able to identify the right candidate at all.
- Tom Maffettone, President, Innovo Staffing
Erhard has also seen better retention rates among the employees he hired remotely.
“I felt very comfortable hiring staff this way. So far, it has worked out for the most part,” he explained.
Benefits for Candidates
1) Greater access to location-independent work
Because companies are casting a wider net, candidates located in remote parts of the country or who aren’t willing to move for a job also see their options expanding.
2) Increased time savings & reduced anxiety
Gone are the days of showing up in the neighbourhood an hour before an interview and looking for a coffee shop to kill time – just to be safe.
Now that candidates no longer have to travel to interviews, they can easily save at least two hours per opportunity and reallocate this time to other more productive job search endeavours.
Candidates are likely to be less stressed by a remote process, resulting in stronger interview performance and greater authenticity.
What should candidates do to prepare for virtual interviews?
Candidates should treat a virtual interview as seriously as they would an in-person interview and prepare accordingly.
Conducting a practice interview with a friend or with a career coach is also a great idea.
The two most common issues recruiters see relate to the candidate’s technology and surroundings.
1) Avoid any technology glitches
Companies tend to have little patience for technical issues and expect candidates to plan accordingly.
“If they can’t figure out Zoom or plan ahead so they have a reliable and strong internet connection at the time of the interview, chances are, they can’t perform the work we require of them,” says Bonnet.
Before your interview, test your connection and familiarise yourself with the software you will be using.
“The employer has a budgeted amount of time for each interview,” Bonnet explains.
If the first half is spent troubleshooting your microphone, no matter how qualified you might be...
the thing you’ll be remembered for most is that you didn’t know how to use a microphone.
- Bret Bonnet, Co-Founder & President, Quality Logo Products
2) Pay close attention to your surroundings
Candidates should also pay careful attention to their surroundings.
“Keep in mind that if the position is to be carried out from home, the hiring manager doesn’t only evaluate you as a person, but also your environment and the place you’ll be working from,” explained Erhardt.
Maffettone tells candidates to “sit in front of your computer screen and turn your chair around 180 degrees. People will look at everything in the background.”
Make sure to remove any clutter and be intentional about the types of objects that are in the camera’s view.
You should also avoid sitting in front of a bright window, which can result in a dark silhouette.
Alison Bernstein, Founder and President of Suburban Jungle, an online real estate platform, says that employees want to see evidence that you can “have an organised schedule with space, time and childcare (if need be) to take calls, attend video chats and simply execute daily activities.”
“Unprofessional noises in the background such as kids screaming, dogs barking and dishes chiming all raise red flags,” she explains.
How can companies ensure remote interviews run smoothly?
To convey a professional, competent image, companies should plan a concrete interview structure by determining the order of speakers and the questions each will ask.
“Companies can lose candidates by making mistakes and not running the Zoom interview well,” Maffettone said.
This is the case for “especially for management-level roles where candidates are going to be a bit more discerning as to where they want to work.”
One candidate for an executive-level banking position shared a story of a company who used a single Zoom link for all of its interviews.
Midway through his interview, another candidate scheduled for the next time slot entered the meeting room, causing an interruption and raising privacy concerns.
Maffettone has had candidates who have been on calls with up to six people at a time.
When conducting such panel interviews, he noted that companies commonly run into issues such as the following:
- People talking over each other
- Team members being confused as to who should ask the next question
- Candidates commenting that companies came off as disorganised and dishevelled
Companies should avoid such issues that may leave a poor impression on candidates.
Do companies plan to revert to in-person interviews moving forward?
Companies generally plan to continue virtual recruitment to some extent moving forward, especially for roles that don’t require a physical presence.
“It’s just more efficient,” explained Bonnet.
“Not only that, but with plans to make all positions at our company fully-remote going forward, this will soon be the only way to interview candidates for our company.”
Recruiters also mentioned that in-person meetings will likely return in the final stages of interviews for senior-level candidates and local candidates.
“In a senior-level role, the last phase will always be face-to-face,” said Maffettone.
While many companies may have been reluctant to embrace remote hiring before the pandemic, it has now become a widespread practice.
Candidates who may not have put much effort into virtual interviews in the past, too, are being forced to reconsider their approach.
By treating remote hiring and recruitment with the same level of importance as you would in-person, you’ll be able to ensure more successful outcomes.
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