Running a Remote Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide

Running a Remote Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide

One of the greatest advantages of remote work is that you’re not geographically limited when it comes to finding talent. Next time you post a job or entrust the help of a recruiter, you need not worry about one metropolitan area. Instead, you can expand your search nationally or even globally through a remote interview.

Many companies go remote with a team already in place. Assuming all of these hires happened with a traditional face-­to-­face interview, making a complete remote hire—and conducting a remote interview—may be a brand new practice.

Here we’ll break down the ways to combine traditional interview strategies with advice and questions targeted specifically to a remote hire you may (or may not) meet in person before a job offer takes place.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to running a remote interview:

1. Write a remote job description.

Every hire begins with writing a job description. This is the first place where you will need to consider what skills a remote hire needs to succeed in your business.

According to Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp, a remote hiring situation gives back “the edge” to quiet but productive workers who often lose out in the traditional office environment.

Use the job description to explain, first, that the position is remote. From there, explain the attributes that a candidate must have in order to succeed in this project.

A few skills to consider listing are:

  • Organizational skills
  • Motivation
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Communication skills

2. Ask remote interview questions.

Your first interactions with the candidate will probably be through emails. After that, you will likely schedule a phone interview. Just like with any interview, do your homework.

There are endless statistics on how much more successful structured interviews are in finding the right fit for success and longevity. Use structure during the phone interview. Take your old interview questions and throw them out the window.

Let’s consider the skills we spoke about in the job description section. Have a question or two prepared for each of these remote­-specific skills.

  • Organizational skills: What does your ideal home office setting look like?
  • Motivation: How do you fend off distractions when working from home/remotely?
  • Time management: What does an ideal remote day look like to you?
  • Ability to work independently: Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you fixed it independently?
  • Communication skills: How do you prefer to communicate with coworkers? Why?

3. Set up a video remote interview.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. There’s no replacement for meeting someone in person. There’s no technology that can simulate shaking a hand and making direct eye contact.

However, you can still get pretty close. After a successful phone interview, it’s time to set up a video interview. Video interviewing will help you get a feel for a candidate’s personality and culture fit. Using Skype, Google Hangouts, or your favorite video conferencing tool, set up a time.

PRO TIP: To avoid any unnecessary difficulties right off the bat, advise your candidate to place themselves in a quiet area with good light and great internet!

Consider conferencing in other employees, just like you would invite them to help out with an in-­office interview. And just like with the phone call, have remote-­specific questions prepared. In addition, be prepared to explain to the candidate exactly how your remote situation works.

Explain where the other employees live, how flexible or inflexible hours are, and take this time to explain the pros and cons of remote work according to your company’s experience. You may also take this opportunity to ask questions about how they would deal with the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely.

PRO TIP: If the candidate hasn’t worked remotely before and is wary about it, stress the advantages. Employee happiness is a huge advantage to taking your office remote. Use this as your chance to stress the flexibility, the absence of a commute, and the added bonus of having exponentially more time every week to do… whatever you want.

4. Give a remote assignment.

Absolutely don’t miss the opportunity to create an assignment for the candidate when conducting a remote interview. While a programmer can show you code and a designer can send you a portfolio full of designs, an assignment is still epically important for a remote candidate.

It’s our belief at Proven that you should wait until both parties have opted in before providing an assignment. We believe that, in a remote hiring situation, after the video interview is a good time.

Depending on the position, the assignments will vary. An important aspect of a remote assignment is the candidate’s ability to produce finished deliverables within a certain time frame. This is a surefire way to indicate how well a candidate works independently and under a bit of pressure.

PRO TIP: The assignment is incredibly crucial for a hire in a customer-­facing role. Pose real-world problems that a candidate may face.

5. Make (and keep) the hire.

So you found the perfect candidate! She’s pumped to work, has a great portfolio, and exhibits great organizational skills. Great news, but…

Finding the perfect candidate is just the beginning with a remote hire. Make sure you spend the first few weeks (and months) developing a relationship with the candidate. The last thing you want is for your first remote hire to “ghost” you!

Before you make the hire, you’ll want to have all of your processes documented and clearly presented to the hire. A great piece of advice is to create a “New Hire” care package.

Keep the lines of communication open, especially in the first few weeks. Make sure you have a point person (or point people) available to answer any questions and provide general support.

Make sure to have scheduled meetings with your new hire on a weekly basis. Don’t cancel (or even reschedule) these meetings, especially in the introductory phase. This is an important time for your new employee to field questions, concerns, and really speak about anything.

6. Ready to hire the candidate?

Make sure you’re prepared. If you go into your first remote hire blindly, you will be unsuccessful. Prepare your questions. Have a clear picture of what your company looks like as a remote company. Know the proven advantages as well as the challenges.

In the end, a remote office is a great way to cut some overhead, allow your employees a personal life, and promote overall company happiness. Hiring the right employees to support a remote office will ensure the success of a remote office.

Caileen KehayasCaileen Kehayas is a content marketer for Proven, a hiring tool for small businesses.


By Caileen Kehayas | Categories: Build a Remote Team

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