Running remote interviews
In this section, we’ll be sharing the challenges we find, and approaches we take when running remote interviews.
We follow the paradigm that if one person is remote, everyone is remote. This means that even if two out of the three people are in the same physical location, behave as if you are remote. Open your own laptop, and turn on your video. This creates the best overall experience. This provides a more inclusive environment for those who are remote and levels the playing field for all participants, especially in interviews.
In fact, candidates have given us feedback that suggests that they prefer the “all remote” scenario as it makes for better interactions and more natural communication (compared to a ‘half-way house’).
Remember, as we will be working remotely more frequently, be this with colleagues or with clients, a remote interview can be a good indication of a candidate’s ability to work in this manner.
Our overall interviewing process remains the same as when we run bricks and mortar interviews, while we can see the benefits of face-to-face interaction, we believe that not only is remote not bad, but there are also interesting things to be learned from a remote interview.
For non-coding roles, the interviews consist of open conversations and case studies. For the case study, the candidate and their interviewers play through the scenario collaboratively, and most candidates will want to draw or otherwise visualise their ideas.
This means that we not only want to hear and see each other, but share drawings and visualisations remotely and allow collaboratively exploring and changing these.
Use a high-quality and easily accessible communication tool, and we’ve found Zoom currently has the best quality. Ensure you have high-quality headphones with a good boom microphone.
Use an easy-to-use real-time collaboration tool (or any other reasonable tool the candidate may suggest). Candidates in the past have successfully scribbled on paper or a wall and pointed the camera. It is not ideal, but it works.
- Share the conference details well in advance.
- Manage candidate expectations: Make the candidate aware of the need for good connectivity and conducive set-up and surroundings. Explain how the interview will unfold and what the various remote tools will be used for.
- Test the technology: Provide guidelines for the candidate to test their set-up beforehand and familiarise themselves with the collaboration tool. We have seen interviews get cancelled because one party couldn’t get their audio to work.
- Provide exercise materials: Share case study-based exercises either a day before for the candidate to have a quick read or at the start of the interview, and then allow the candidate some prep time as part of the interview.
- Put your candidate at ease: Interviewing is hard; remote interviewing is harder. Be mindful of the stress a candidate is under. Put them at ease and cut them some slack. Form a connection, similarly to as you normally would.
- Pre-meet to align with your co-interviewer: As we always co-interview, briefly meet your interview partner prior to an interview to align procedures and tools.
- Kick off earlier: Connect with your co-interviewer at least 15 minutes prior to the actual interview to ensure you are set up. The remote call should be “live” when the candidate joins.
- Get your set-up right: Find a quiet and low-echo space. Make sure that everyone can see and hear each other and that any scribbles (digital or otherwise) can be seen and read by everyone.
- Have a headset: Make sure your headphone and microphone work well. We prefer this over conference call speakers or talking at your computer.
- Introduce yourselves: With remote interviews, it is easy to “jump into it”. Don’t forget to introduce yourselves, explain what’s going to happen, and make a bit of chit-chat to lighten the mood. This is even more important should only one person be remote.
- Preparation time: Stay online during the time we give to the candidate to prep, so the candidate has a feedback line in case they need support. You may wish to turn off your video and mute your microphone.
- Keep time: Set clear expectations with all parties in regards to timekeeping, especially if you go mute or offline during preparation time.
- Bad connectivity: Do introductions via video, then turn the video off.
- No Audio: Have a fallback solution if the candidate cannot get their audio to work (it has happened before).