As more and more freelancers and employees work from home, there’s a good chance your next hire might be located many miles away from the office. Although this brings many benefits to both the employer and employee, one area which can be a challenge is the job interview process.
Flying candidates out to meet you is too costly for some small companies. It means a long-distance job interview is the only option. Interviewing is a skill in itself, and adding the element of distance most likely make it even more tough.
It’s one thing to pen a set of questions, but quite another to use those as a basis for a successful and informative conversation, especially when you’re not in the same room as the candidate. It is well worth running through a mock interview with an existing employee to see how well the questions flow, if the order works and to adjust as is best.
If you are using tech during the interview, such as a video webchat program or screen-sharing software, do at least one dry run before the actual interview to make sure you know exactly how it all works. Thus, you can concentrate on what the candidate is saying, rather than on technical issues.
There may be many stages to your long distance interview process — an initial, more informal chat to arrange a more formal, longer phone interview, a video interview, and maybe even a demonstration or skills-based session.
It’s only fair to let your interviewee know exactly what to expect. This includes giving an estimate of how long you’d expect the session to last, what they should have on hand, any previous work examples to provide to you in advance, who will be on the call and what you’re hoping to get out of that stage of the interview.
Always allow time at the end of every stage for the interviewee to ask you questions. What they ask (and how) can be as telling as some of their responses to your queries.
See: Personal Connection during Video Interview? Possible!
“Do treat a telephone interview like any other face-to-face interview. It is tempting to treat a telephone interview more casually, but set clear objectives and stick to them,” suggests Andrew Spence, HR consultant for Glass Bead Consulting.
Don’t forget that your candidate is also interviewing you and assessing your company’s prospects. Keeping the interview process as professional as possible is important.
It might sound obvious, but for a phone or webchat interview ensure your cell phone is turned off, your laptop won’t start bleeping calendar reminders, no-one is going to burst in on you chatting, etc. Your candidate should likewise ensure the same, making for a calm and uninterrupted session.
You might be lucky and just click with your interviewee. But chances are, even if they are a suitable candidate for the job, there will be the odd moment where you talk over each other, don’t catch what the person said or misconstrue meaning. In these situations you need to try and smooth things along as best you can. Here’s the tip: persevere without being domineering.
Good communication is so much more important when you are not face-to-face with someone. Ensure your interviewee clearly understands the questions you are asking. If they get stuck on something, offer to come back to that point, and if they are getting fuddled or fudging an answer, step in with a firm but friendly manner to help them out.
If you give your candidate every chance to do well, you will get a better sense of their suitability for the role. Everyone gets nervous and flustered about an interview, the skill is not to get them to break down — but to rise up and show you their potential.
See also: Interview Mistakes That Scare Away Talent