Remote Interviews— Adapting during the time of COVID-19

Companies throughout the US are instating work-from-home policies while we brace for COVID-19 to make its way through our communities.

For our sanity, and for our businesses, we need to maintain a business-as-usual approach as best as we can during this time. As recruiters, that means we need to continue to recruit, interview and facilitate team interviews with our candidates.

What are the best practices for remote interview processes?

I called on three folks who have abundant experience with remote interviews to gain some best practices for optimizing video interviews. 

Here are some of the resources that Nick Luallin, Chris Hough, and Chelsey Madsen suggested during our conversations:

Technical Tools

1. Video Calls

Hands-down Zoom is cited as the best way to go for remote video interviewing. It’s user friendly, reliable and has a lot of options for how you want to set up the video conferencing. Zoom is an excellent resource for technical interviews as well – great for pair programming or code reviews.

The honorable mention for video calls goes to Blue Jeans. This is more of an enterprise option as it’s quite pricey but offers a lot of slick features. It can be great for virtual town halls or for video events with a high number of participants.

2. Interviewer Management & Feedback

Greenhouse is an excellent resource for managing interviewer feedback & scorecards. It also provides some sanity with scheduling with multiple calendars as it does the tetris work of aligning interviewer availability. (Flashbacks of using only Google Calendar to schedule onsite interviews with 8+ people makes me want to throw my laptop out the window.)

3. Candidate Experience

If you want to streamline your candidate prep and communication, Resource.io excels at managing the candidate experience. With Resource.io you can create boilerplate interview prep emails, create nurture campaigns for recruiting and file and organize candidate communication in one accessible place.

4. Multi-Tool Resource

Slack. If your company is not yet using Slack for team communication, what ARE you using?! It’s the 21st century, people. Slack is a great resource for quick communication within internal teams. With Slack, you can create separate, gated slack channels for candidates and their interviewers once they get to the final interview stages. For remote teams, this serves two purposes:

  1. It allows the candidates to experience what working with your company and team would look and feel like. It’s a great way to try-before-you-buy with an opportunity for the candidate.
  2. It provides candidates an informal, and direct, way to ask questions on a code test or to follow up with interviewers.

Slack also allows for limiting access to certain channels of a company’s Slack for people who are on contract-to-hire scenarios. This approach provides the flexibility to get new folks on-boarded onto the team without providing full access to all of a company’s channels.

For recruiters, Slack is great for quickly pinging interviewers regarding interview feedback. Be mindful to not request feedback on interviews via Slack where other interviewers might see the feedback and be influenced. We want to avoid groupthink with interviews!

In addition to these top tools, we also discussed some key best practices for facilitating a smooth transition to remote interview processes.

Best Practices

1. Communication

When we don’t have face-to-face options to lean on, we need to be overly communicative with our processes. This means our communication with our internal teams, our hiring teams and with our candidates.

2. Candidate Interview Prep

Get specific about what makes for a good remote interview experience:

  • Be in a quiet location (no coffee shops, dogs or kids around)
  • Be aware of camera placement and background
  • Test your audio and video with remote interview technology ahead of the call
  • Use a plugged in headset if possible
  • Be ready with video on
  • Treat this like an in person interview – dress appropriately, be prepared for questions

3. Scheduling Zoom Interviews

Be careful to not let wires cross by using the same Meeting ID for all scheduled interviews. Give your primary interviewers their own Personal ID to avoid issues.

4. Avoid a Single Point of Failure for Remote Interviews

Always include a phone number for the interviewer when confirmed to your candidate. This allows for connection in case the video call fails, so that all is not lost for that time slot.

5. Working from Home

Don’t work where you sleep. Do your best to create a dedicated (or easily setup when needed) work space that allows you to have good posture and to focus on your work.

Additional Resources

  1. Remote – book on optimizing working remotely
  2. BaseCamp’s amazing resources for working remotely

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