How To Conduct Successful Remote Interviews and Hire Top Remote Candidates

Hiring Remote

New to remote interviews? Use these 9 easy tips to set up and conduct a remote interview, put your best foot forward, and recruit top candidates for your team.
Image Source

As COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocols encourage more companies to hire remote employees, hiring managers and WFH teams must learn how to conduct a successful remote interview.

Remote interviews, whether by phone or video call, are much more complicated than in-person interviews. There’s a higher chance of technical issues, miscommunication, and distractions on both ends.

But like anything, the right game plan will prepare you and your team to shine. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in today’s quick guide.

Looking to hire remotely in 2024? Check out our complete guide to hiring remotely in 2024!

9 Tips to Conduct Successful Remote Interviews and Hire Top Remote Candidates

A solid interview process helps your company gather intel on candidates to determine whether they’re qualified for the role and jive with your culture and mission. Finding the right fit during your initial interviews saves time and money, so it’s crucial to ace this stage. 

However, an interview goes both ways. It gives potential employees a glimpse at how your company conducts business. And it may ultimately decide whether they want to pursue the role or take interviews with your competitors.

So to make sure everything goes smoothly, follow these remote interview tips:

1. Don’t Even Think About Winging It

Tweaking your current interview process for a remote candidate requires planning — so don’t even think about winging it at the last minute.

You’ll need to communicate what’s expected of your team and your candidates beforehand so everyone has time to prepare. 

Consider creating a one-pager template that includes fields for:
  • Whether the interview will take place over the phone or via video call
  • Which video platform you’ll be using (Zoom, Skype, etc.)
  • Who will make the call
  • The date/time of the interview (think about different time zones)
  • Links to the candidate’s resume and list of approved interview questions

You can update the fields in this template for each interview. Then send this form to your team members scheduled to be on the call.

2. Keep Your Candidates In the Loop

If you surprise candidates at the last minute or catch them off guard, they may not be in the right headspace to give thoughtful answers. Keeping them in the dark also takes away their power to prepare ahead of time.

All these negative feelings may stress them and sour their desire to join your team before the interview even occurs.

Candidates will be more at ease during the interview process if you give them a head’s up about what to expect and what’s expected of them.

So after you schedule an interview, email candidates a short overview of the hiring process and what they can expect during each stage.

Image Source

Follow up with details about their remote interview, including:
  • The time and date (and which time zone)
  • Which phone number you’ll be calling from, or
  • Which online meeting platform you’ll be using
  • Whether they should be expected to be on camera
  • Whether they’ll be required to share their screen at any point
  • The names and titles of those who may be joining the interview
  • What they should prepare or send ahead of time (such as samples of work)

Include a brief rundown of how to set up their workspace for the video call, how to test the sound/video, and a few remote interview tips.

3. Ask for Additional Information Before the Interview

While candidates may bring work samples or references during an in-person interview, it’s a mess to email and check these during a video call. 

So if you require samples or a portfolio, have your candidates send this over beforehand. This gives your team time to look over everything and formulate relevant questions prior to meeting up on camera.

If you don’t require examples of previous work, you may want to send candidates a quick survey or fun quiz to fill out about their experience working remotely. 

You can discover each candidate’s take on their:
  • Discipline. How do they handle distractions and deadlines?
  • Work Habits. What time (and time zone) do they prefer working? 
  • Collaboration. Do they prefer working solo or on a team? 
  • Communication. Are they comfortable with daily or weekly Slack check-ins?
  • WFH Tech Experience. Have they used online project management tools, time-keepers, etc.? 

While some may be new to the virtual office, others have been crushing WFH for years. And having this intel before an interview will help guide your questions. 

4. Be the Best Video Caller

Everyone’s had to learn video conferencing best practices on the fly thanks to COVID-19. What we’ve learned along the way is:
  • Dress for success. Wear the professional work attire you would to interview a candidate in-person. This will make you feel more professional and give those same vibes to your candidate.

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free place to hold your interview. Go somewhere less-trafficked and close the door to minimize background noise. Clear out the clutter on your desk and in the background.

  • Locate your light. Lighting from behind will cast your face in silhouette. Try to sit near a sunny window or with a front-facing light source to illuminate your face.

  • Set alerts to silent on your phone and computer to avoid interruptions from messages, emails, etc.

  • Mute your microphone when not speaking to avoid interrupting and reduce background noise for others on the call. If you’re typing notes on the call, muting prevents click-clacking keys in everyone’s ears. 

You’ll also need to practice active listening. These subtle clues show candidates that you’re engaged and paying attention:
  • Speak calmly and clearly, pausing every so often to make sure your candidate doesn’t miss anything due to delays, buffering, or others talking over you.
  • Make eye contact by staring straight into your camera instead of looking at yourself or your candidate.
  • Smile and laugh (when appropriate).
  • Nod your head or give a thumbs up to show agreement.

5. Always Test the Tech

Always test drive the online meeting platform you’ll be using during the interview. Familiarize yourself with the menus, buttons, capabilities, etc. well enough to help others troubleshoot if they encounter issues.

Image Source

Try a practice run with a colleague, friend, or family member to ensure your camera, microphone, and login information are working and correct. Check that you have a strong internet connection/cell signal in the room you plan to use.

Test everything at least a day or two ahead of time so you can make adjustments. And then charge all your equipment the night before.

6. Prepare a Backup Plan for Poor Connections and Technical Difficulties

No matter how much you prepare, technical difficulties always pop up at the worst time. So you’ll want to have a backup plan to move past the hiccup and continue the interview.

Have your candidate’s email and phone number nearby so you can contact them if plans change on your end. Tell them to do the same.

If your candidate’s experiencing bandwidth trouble during the video call, the delays and lags in communication will ruin the interview. And you may unintentionally judge a candidate by their poor connection.

Remain flexible here and switch to a phone call or reschedule. You’ll give each candidate the chance to put their best foot forward and make an excellent first impression.

7. Gather a Team of Interviewers

Having a core team of interviewers provides multiple perspectives on hiring decisions. And since video software allows several employees to jump on a call and screen share remotely, it’s never been easier to pow-wow with potential hires. 

Try to include team members with HR experience and those who will be working directly with the candidate. They can explain the daily job duties, communication rules, etc. while the candidate gets to meet their potential colleagues.

Let everyone know their assigned “roles” beforehand, such as which employees will be observing silently versus asking questions or note-taking. This prevents both people talking over each other and awkward moments of silence.

Send out a personal assessment form to each employee to use during the interview. They’ll record their initial opinions here before sharing them with the team.

Give your team a 15- to 30-minute window post-interview to debrief and discuss while each candidate’s answers are still fresh in their minds.

8. Introduce Your Company Culture and Commitment to DE&I

Remote candidates won’t have the chance to see your office or interact with your team before their interview. So you’ll need to give them a glimpse of your company culture and mission.

When candidates look for signs a remote company is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), they want real-life examples of how you practice the mission statement on your website.
Image Source

So offer up information about your DE&I initiatives and how you plan to expand them further. Talk about DE&I employee training and what you expect from your team members. Discuss your community outreach.

This isn’t to boast about how woke your company is; it’s to show candidates that they’ll be welcomed no matter who they are. And it may naturally weed out candidates who oppose your mission.

9. Send Out Candidate Experience Surveys Post-Interview

When remote interviews end, tell candidates what’s going to happen next. Ask them if they have any questions, and always thank them for their time.

Sending out a candidate experience survey after the interview will help your team act on inclusive hiring practices. This quick survey asks candidates how the process went for them.

It should include quantitative questions (such as, How likely are you to apply for a position at our company in the future?) and qualitative response fields (like, Please describe your interview’s high and low points).

This feedback will let your team know what’s working and what may be turning candidates away (such as an inappropriate comment or question). This valuable research about your hiring process will help you avoid repeating these mistakes. 

Find the Top Remote Candidates to Interview Today

These nine tips for conducting a successful remote interview will help you better prepare for smooth sailing. You’ll represent your company well and get the most out of each meeting. 

Follow these tips, and the interview experience will leave candidates with a positive impression and entice them to complete the next stage of onboarding with your company. For more best practices, be sure to check out our Guide to Hiring Remote.

Ready to find the top remote candidates for your open position? Post a job ad on We Work Remotely now — the largest remote work community in the world! With over 2.5 million monthly visitors, your perfect remote candidate is just around the corner.

← Back to Blog