For your business to thrive, it's critical you set up a process for conducting effective interviews — and, in 2020, it's equally vital you create a comprehensive virtual interview strategy, as well.
As a Program Coordinator on HubSpot's Recruiting Operations Team, I'm familiar with the struggles of creating a cohesive remote interview experience. But, as HubSpot continues to grow globally, I also know how important it is to create a scalable remote candidate interviewing process.
Plus, at HubSpot, we have a strong commitment to global-first and remote inclusion — so further developing our remote interview practices only makes sense.
While there's no "secret sauce" to remote interviewing, we've iterated on a process that helps both candidates and interviewers have strong, purposeful conversations virtually.
Here, I'm going to tell you about the best practices we've learned as a result of listening to both candidate and interviewer feedback so you can learn how to create your own powerful virtual recruitment process in 2020.
How to Conduct Successful Remote Interviews
1. Be human and keep the personal touch.
While it’s a bit harder to make a personal connection when interviewing remotely, putting in the extra effort can be the difference between an average and remarkable candidate experience.
There are many ways to do this, but some efforts our candidates are loving are:
- Providing 15-minute prep calls with recruiters if candidates are nervous about interviewing remotely. We want to set up candidates for success, so having quick sessions to familiarize themselves with Zoom (our video conferencing tool of choice) and have a test run can make all the difference.
- Hold a virtual meet-and-greet before the interview starts, so you can have a pulse check with your candidate, workout any pre-interview jitters, and make sure they are comfortable before handing them off to their first interviewer.
- Over-communicate the interview logistics to the candidate so they know exactly when the interview starts and how the exchange between interviewers will work to ensure a smooth process.
2. Knowledge and resources are power.
Interviewing remotely presents its own set of unique challenges for candidates: how to prepare, what to wear, and how to get an idea of the office, team, or culture they could be joining.
The good news is that there are many ways you can share information and resources with candidates to fill these gaps, such as:
- A one-pager for how to prepare your work space, download your video conferencing software of choice, and practice with it
- This blog post: How to Prepare for Your Video Interview Debut
- Virtual office tours
- Content that gives candidates a glimpse into your culture and lets it shine, like your YouTube channel, your brand's Instagram page, or your business's Glassdoor page
- Team lunches or weekly stand-ups, to give candidates a look at their future team’s culture
3. Remote interviewing can feel very different from in-person, so make it as comfortable as possible.
Without the natural flow and physical reminders of an in-person interview, it’s easy to forget the small things that would make a remote interview just as comfortable as coming into the office.
Here are some small things that you can do to make your candidates feel as comfortable as possible:
- Before starting your interview, offer the candidate a water and restroom break.
- Ideally, take notes on paper so that you’re not typing while the person is talking. If you’ll be taking notes on the computer, call out the fact that you’ll be typing during the interview. In this scenario, it’s also best to mute yourself so that you’re not typing in their ears as they’re speaking, but keep in mind that for them it will feel like they’re talking to a silent crowd.
- Don’t lose the small talk you would normally have with candidates in-person.
- Be overly expressive — interviews are extra stressful when it’s hard to read body language. Nod, smile, and laugh, to help make the situation more comfortable.
- Include a "breather" whenever possible by building in 10 to 15-minute breaks in the interview schedule.
4. Channel your inner technology support specialist.
While most of our interviewers aren’t in tech support roles, it’s easy to forget that we use remote collaboration tools regularly, so we may be (and usually are) more experienced using and troubleshooting issues that can come up during a remote interview.
Technology issues can happen, so don’t panic and stay strong in the face of adversity. Here are some of our tips for working through tech issues:
- When in doubt, leave and rejoin the meeting. If that doesn’t work, we recommend giving the candidate a call (which we list in all of our interview calendar invites).
- If the issue is Wi-Fi connectivity, the first troubleshooting step we recommend is suggesting that the candidate move closer to the wifi router (if able). Second step would be to turn off video and attempt to communicate just over audio. Third and final step would be to switch the call to take place over the phone.
- If you’re spending more than five minutes troubleshooting tech issues, it may be best to reschedule for a later time. Work with your internal stakeholders to make it happen.
- At HubSpot, we use Zoom, so keeping Zoom’s troubleshooting guide open makes it easier to search and troubleshoot on-the-fly. Make sure, whichever video tool you choose, that you have the tool's troubleshooting or FAQ page open just in case.
The way we have approached the adoption, measurement, and evaluation of the remote interviewing process is very HubSpot by nature.
HubSpot pushes its employees to have HEART — be humble and listen, be empathetic towards others, adapt to changing situations, generate remarkable experience for everyone, and be transparent and share what you learn.
I would encourage you to take this a step further and let the culture of your company shine throughout your interview process, whether in-person or virtually.
Additionally, remember your candidates and interviewers can offer critical feedback to help you strengthen your process over time. Continue to collect feedback from both sides, and use it to improve your virtual experience.
Editor's note: This post was originally written in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.