The first post in our Remote Hiring Series covered how to transition to virtual interviews. Now let’s consider the candidate experience. As candidates don’t have the opportunity to visit your office in-person, it’s harder for them to envision themselves working there. That’s why it’s more important than ever to go the extra mile to make meaningful connections that get job-seekers excited about joining the team.
Kicking off an interview
We all know video interviews can be awkward. As such, interviewers need to make a conscious effort to make candidates feel comfortable right from the start. While it may seem obvious, begin the conversation with an introduction. Explain who you are, what you do, why you joined the company, what you’re currently working on, etc. Be thorough. In an in-person interview, you typically have a chance for small talk before and after the official interview as everyone gets settled in a room, prepares to leave, etc. Don’t lose these casual conversations just because things have gone virtual.
The more you share about yourself, the more the candidate will feel comfortable doing the same. This helps build rapport and encourages them to ask questions (which you want them to do!).
Before you even enter the video conference, turn on Do Not Disturb mode for all applicable programs. You don’t want to detract from the relationship you’re building by checking your phone or answering emails during the interview, even if you think you’re doing so subtly. Dings from Slack and pop ups from email can throw a great conversation off-course.
As the conversation continues, show your enthusiasm and personality as much as possible, as you want the candidate to do the same. Be cognizant of eye contact and body language, both your own and the candidate’s. Smiling, nodding, and leaning forward are all positive signs of engagement, while frowning or looking around off-camera are signs that you (or the person you’re speaking to) are losing interest. If you notice the interviewee making gestures or speaking over you, take a pause to recalibrate the conversation.
If technical issues arise during the interview, make sure to continue communicating. If there’s a lull because someone is figuring out how to share their screen or unmute themselves, verbally walk them through how to do so. If the call cuts out, have your phone handy so you can seamlessly pick the conversation back up there.
Conveying company culture
Showcasing company and team culture can be one of the biggest challenges of remote interviewing. Even if the candidate doesn’t bring it up, you should proactively speak to what it’s like working at your company. Culture can sometimes be the deciding factor for job-seekers choosing between multiple opportunities.
Talk about how the team has transitioned to remote work and how you’re finding new ways to collaborate. Highlight any remote team building activities you have going on. Since remote work may only be temporary, touch on the activities your team has done in the past or plans to do once back in the office.
There are also non-verbal ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and the culture that exists there. If your company maintains social media accounts that include employee events, share links to those. It can also be a nice touch to wear company swag during the interview - show your pride!
Above all else, stay genuine when speaking to company culture.
A reminder for recruiters
You are the first touch point for candidates and set the tone for the whole relationship. A little extra effort goes a long way. Take more time to get to know the interviewee and let them get to know you. As the interview process progresses, be sure to check in and share updates every week, and spend extra time walking them through how your company conducts virtual interviews and what each stage entails.
When it comes time to make a decision, candidates will remember who put in the extra effort to get to know them.