HR leaders can use these top tips to conduct better remote interviews.
Conducting better remote interviews begins with a few easy steps. 

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Work-from-home has become the new normal across the globe. Although COVID-19 has increased remote work due to current stay-at-home mandates, the pandemic is also undoubtedly spurring a workplace transition that could last for years to come. Just as companies will need to adjust their operations to a new digital work culture, HR departments will need to adjust their hiring process to one that’s remote-friendly.

We’ll state the obvious: A remote hiring process includes conducting remote video interviews. Given that inclusive in-person recruitment relies heavily on utilizing inclusive interview practices, it’s crucial that HR departments take those same practices into account during remote interviews. As remote hiring becomes a popular path to talent acquisition, recruiters will need to combine inclusive interviewing techniques with best practices for remote interviews to ensure a better candidate experience.

To promote inclusivity during remote recruitment and find the best possible candidate fit,  follow these six steps for conducting better remote interviews.

1. Prepare effective questions

It’s never a good idea to wing an interview, but it’s really not a great idea to wing a remote interview. Here’s why: On a video call, silences can feel even more profound and uncomfortable than in real life. Zoom users are noticing this during COVID-19 remote work and are reporting that interactions feel generally more awkward -- and psychologists are confirming why. To avoid long silences or unfocused/unproductive interviews, make sure to prepare questions ahead of time. Keep things flowing naturally with a healthy mix of prescribed questions and overarching topics that an interviewer can ask spur-of-the-moment questions about on the spot. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in conducting better remote interviews.

2. Test technology ahead of time

When technology unexpectedly fails during an interview, it leaves both the interviewer and the candidate feeling frustrated -- and can seriously damage the candidate experience. While technology isn’t a perfect game and may fail anyways, an interviewer can do their best to avoid mishaps by testing equipment and softwares ahead of time. We recommend trying a practice test run the morning of the interview to be sure everything is working as planned. Additionally, be sure to send the candidate the details about any software/equipment they will need for the interview. Do this far enough in advance so they can test from their end, too.

3. Have a solid backup plan

In case technology does fail despite the interviewer’s best efforts, be sure to obtain the email and phone number of every candidate. Interviewers need to be ready to adapt quickly if there’s a glitch. They might end up conducting a phone interview instead of a video interview if that’s the case -- HR teams should make sure hiring managers are aware that flexibility here is key. Also, keep in mind that work-from-home can cause bandwidth issues and make a video interview lag or freeze at inconvenient times. Interviewers should use their discretion and switch to a phone call if poor wifi connection turns from annoying into distracting.

4. Make a great first impression

To conduct a better remote interview, an interviewer should take some extra time to put their best foot forward. Dress professionally -- or at the very least, dress in a way that reflects the company’s dress code. Prepare the interview space ahead of time to be sure it is well-lit and inviting. And finally, make sure to minimize on- and off-screen distractions to give candidates the undivided attention that’s paramount to inclusive interviewing.

5. Keep it inclusive

Just because an interview is remote, doesn’t mean it can neglect inclusive interview best practices. Align the in-person candidate experience with the remote one by taking a hard look at how an interviewer will promote inclusive hiring via video. This starts by preparing an inviting, non-distracting interview space, and ends with an inclusive remote interview that is tailored around the candidate’s body language. While gauging reactions and body language is definitely a taller task over video, it’s not impossible. Take careful note of how candidates are responding to questions and make sure to give them the time they need to think before answering. Avoid interrupting trains of thought, which can be easy to do over video. To counter this, consider asking the candidate if they are done with their answer before moving on. Finally, be sure to speak loudly, clearly and at a reasonable speed -- as would be done in an in-person interview.

6. End strong!

As the remote interview finishes up, make sure to end with next steps and sincere gratitude for the candidate’s time. These are strange times for many job seekers, some of whom might be recently laid off. Interviewers can help diffuse an already tense situation by providing up-front information about next steps. Plus, a thank you can go a long way for candidates who are stressing about their next job move. An in-person interview usually ends with a handshake, so we recommend establishing some kind of vocal signal to symbolize the end of the interview in the same way (like thank you for your time).

And, a bonus step seven: Consider using a recruitment software that enables better remote interviews. For example, a software that allows recruiters to screen and assess candidates for the skills they offer -- rather than based on their resume, certifications or an interview alone -- may help an interviewer ask more streamlined or tailored questions. An AI-powered, human-assured recruitment software like Brilliant Hire enhances the inclusivity of any recruitment process and promotes a better candidate experience. All while helping HR teams keep remote interviews organized and find their best fit in less time.
While COVID-19 may be eradicated with the discovery of a vaccine, remote hiring in large numbers is likely here to stay. Now is the time for recruiters and hiring managers to start thinking about how they will adjust to this transition -- and a great first place to start is by conducting better, more inclusive remote interviews.

Brilliant Hire by SAP provides companies with an innovative way to build diverse and inclusive teams. It offers an efficient, unbiased applicant screening solution powered by a network of experts. With a mission to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process, Brilliant Hire has been trusted by countless talent acquisition professionals to cut down on screening time while ensuring every applicant has an equal chance of moving forward. Check out our blog for more information, or request a demo here.

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