Interviewing Candidates Remotely during COVID-19 – Our Top 5 Tips

Released On 8th Apr 2020

During this challenging time, most businesses will likely find themselves falling into three camps:

  1. Businesses who are in demand as they offer a key service, or supply into an essential supply chain.
  2. Businesses who are almost remaining ‘business as usual’ – able to continue trading and working relatively normally, possibly with some adjustments.
  3. Businesses who have been wiped out by the crisis. Order books at zero (or not far off) and facing the prospect of mothballing, hibernating or perhaps closing altogether to ride out this storm.

For that first group of businesses, recruitment will be very much front and centre of their entire business strategy. Most of the large supermarket retailers have created thousands of jobs over the last month, to service the current stock and service demands, and even the companies who are ‘business as usual’ may still be thinking about future growth.

Businesses who are intending to continue to recruit at this time may be faced with the prospect of interviewing candidates virtually, utilising platforms such as Zoom, Skype or one of the other many online video conferencing programmes available.

And this brings with it its own challenges. Many hirers rely on the mythical ‘gut feeling’ to decide whether a candidate could be the right fit for their business. But what kind of ‘gut feeling’ can you really get from a computer screen?

Here are our five top tips for conducting virtual recruitment interviews:

  • Despite everything we are currently facing, don’t skimp on the clarity of the role. Before conducting the interview, ensure you have a robust and up to date job description, a copy of the candidates’ CV and any collateral you require to help support your decision making.
  • Prepare for the interview. Use an interview question bank or script to guide the interview and give you the answers you need. Don’t just wing it or have a nice chat, you’ll really struggle to get what you need from that person without the preparation.
  • Alongside the interview question bank or script, build a scorecard to remove your unconscious bias from the picture. Scoring on both capability and culture fit gives you the ability to remove your preferences and opinions from the equation and judge the candidate specifically on their capability to perform the role and fit in with your company culture.
  • Build in some questions around outside interests. It’s even more challenging to get to know a candidate through a computer screen, so ask them about what they like to do in their spare time. How are they managing their time right now? What are they reading about or learning about? Avoid specific questions around family, and steer clear of anything that couldn’t be attributed to being of interest due to your company culture or the role.
  • Consider utilising psychometric profiling as a part of your recruitment process. Controversial to some, but if it’s used responsibly and as a piece of the pie of the overall picture – it can be a powerful tool in guiding your decision around team fit.
Really consider how you can tailor the process – and take into consideration that the candidate may be a little uncomfortable in front of a screen. It may take more time and effort to prepare than a face to face interview – but this is an unusual and unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in – and all we can do is learn to adapt.

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