Interviewing candidates for a job is never easy. It can be a long, painstaking process, involving several rounds of interviews until you and your team decide on that one candidate whom you believe will make a great addition to your team, based on in-person interviews.
But what if you’re hiring for a virtual position and you never get to meet the job candidate face-to-face? Will your hiring techniques be less effective if you’re not in the same room (or even the same country) as your job candidates?
Hiring for a remote job can certainly seem to be more rigorous than your garden variety office gig—but it doesn’t have to be. As part of an extensive Q&A for Remote.co, top remote company leaders answered the question: “How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?” If you’re planning to hire a new remote worker—or just want some ideas on how to streamline your remote hiring—the below tips for remote job interviews can definitely help!
Here are seven tips for remote job interviews:
1. Form your way to success.
The first round of job interviews can be time-consuming. But Giacomo “Peldi” Guillizoni, founder and CEO of Balsamiq, has found a way to make it faster and easier.
“First we create a very long and detailed Google form that’s meant to replace the first hour-long interview. It’s intense and should take about 30 minutes to complete. This alone filters people quite a bit,” says Guillizoni. “We don’t ask for age, sex, a photo, LinkedIn URL or even a CV at this stage: this ensures we focus on people’s answers instead. When we have enough candidates, we close the form and ask a few of the best ones for their CV and LinkedIn URLs, and to meet them for a quick 30-minute interview over Google Hangouts*.”
This is a great strategy because you might find that some job candidates won’t want to fill out such a lengthy form. If that’s the case, then you know that they might not be a good fit for your company. And of those who do answer the Google form, you can quickly scan over their answers to determine who will make it to the next round—and who won’t.
2. Have HR handle it.
Depending on the company, some organizations will have top management do the first round of interviews; others might opt to have a hiring manager do it.
“The candidate speaks to HR first, who fully vets them as qualified, desirable potential team members before arranging a call with us, the owners” says Carrie McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services.
This method ensures that only top candidates get to speak with top-level management, which is a big timesaver.
3. Use methods that your company utilizes in daily work.
Let’s say that your company lives and breathes on Google Hangouts*. Then it might make sense to conduct at least one interview with a job candidate via Hangouts, to test if the person knows how to use it and feels comfortable with the communication tool.
Sara Rosso, marketing manager, and Lori McLeese, head of HR, both at Automattic, agree. “We conduct them largely via text chat. It’s a good introduction for the person interviewing about how we communicate (very heavily text-based) and this also allows us to be able to interview people in different timezones no matter where the interviewer is located.”
4. Use video conferencing.
Nothing beats having a job candidate in front of you. Nothing, that is, except video conferencing. “Have we mentioned how much we love Skype?
It really is a part of our daily operations,” says Ric Mercuri, VP, Global Human Resources at Appen. “All of our pre-screening is conducted through Skype. If a candidate cannot be met for an in-person interview, we conduct our interviews through video chat.”
Utilizing video as a way to conduct interviews can help employers gauge how comfortable candidates are with this popular communication tool, as well as get a glimpse into the background of a potential employee—literally. You’ll get to see what type of environment your job candidate will be working from; if it’s messy or cluttered, it might reflect the person’s work style—and not in a good way.
5. Make your remote workplace transparent.
One thing that job candidates want is an idea of what it would really be like to work for your company. Chuck Vadun, communications director at Fire Engine RED, takes that idea to heart, and then takes it one step further.
“Final-round candidates have the ‘Why You Don’t Want to Work Here’ (WYDWTWH) call. It helps the candidate better understand our virtual environment, and provides him/her with full disclosure of what it’s like to work at Fire Engine RED,” says Vadun.
“On the call are three or four team members, usually from outside the department the candidate would be joining, and excluding the hiring manager. It’s not a ‘cheerleader’ session; team members are honest and upfront about the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
While this might seem like a strange strategy, it’s actually quite a good business practice. By informing potential workers of all that they can expect working for your company, you are potentially saving yourself time, money, energy, and yes, frustration by hiring someone who, after a few weeks, isn’t actually a good fit for the company and quits.
6. “Hire” top candidates.
Sure, the candidate’s resume and cover letter make him seem like a perfect match for the company. But can he really do the job based on his past work experience and skill set?
A great way to vet potential candidates is to “hire” them for a week, or for a specific project. You’re not looking for free labor, but rather seeing if the potential employee can do the job he’s applying for—or not.
“After an initial informal chat, we typically have people work 5-10 hours per week for a few weeks to make sure there is a good fit,” says Keith Valory, CEO of Plex. “Again, you may end up missing out on candidates that don’t have the time to do this, but it is the best way to make sure there is a good fit.”
7. Meet in person (if possible).
If you’re hiring location-specific remote workers, it’s a smart move to try to meet job candidates in person. “We use a shared office space that has day offices and conference rooms we can rent. When we conduct interviews, we meet the interviewee at the office space,” says Maria C. Simon, partner, The Geller Law Group. You can even use co-working spaces with conference rooms to make your meetings, especially if you’re keen on having candidates coming to your home office.
In many ways, hiring a remote worker is a straightforward process. Depending on the tools and practices that your company uses, you can incorporate some of the seven tips for remote job interviews from these seven remote company leaders to help make your hiring process go more smoothly—and ensure that you hire the right remote worker each and every time.