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4 Must-dos for Hiring Remotely

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Why does a savvy in-person interview process not work for remote interviews?

First, let’s consider communication fundamental. An essential communication element, which includes hiring, is understanding perspective. “Accurate perception is key if you wish to bolster the competence of your communication,” and scholars tout two key components to develop a better skill at understanding perspective: perception checking and empathy (McCornack & Ortiz, 2019).

These two components are conceptually simple: continually question the accuracy of your perception and be empathetic to the perception of others - yet, they are challenging to master and put into regular practice and often result in stilted or broken communication.

Second, let’s consider the medium. While most of us continue to bolster our communication competencies, or at least have a desire to do so, our efforts are face-to-face, which is ingrained and habitual to us. Within a remote environment, communication tasks, like interviewing, are novel and non-verbal cues (tone, gestures, background) are either absent or simply different than what we usually code and decode when sending and receiving information. It’s important to remember that non-verbal communication makes up most of the data transmitted during interpersonal communication.

Now, let’s acknowledge remote challenges and apply these communication elements to remote interviewing with four must-do steps first introduced by MIT’s Sloan School of Management school.

  1. Be authentic. If, as an interviewer, you usually get straight to the point of the meeting with little or no casual conversation to kick off the meeting, the chances for the interview to be monotonous and dull increases considerably through a video interview. “Zoom calls are dull; 80% of respondents deemed video calls more monotonous than their in-person alternatives” (Laker et al., 2021). The traditional question/answer of back-and-forth interviews styles aid in creating unremarkable conversations. Mix this pattern with the dullness of video interviews and the diminished social and non-verbal cues, and chances are both the interviewer and interviewee will leave unsatisfied. To combat this situation, become a better conversationalist - be engaging and genuine. Candidates that are satisfied and at ease during an interview are more likely to share useful information (Laker et al., 2021).

  2. Be attentive to your surroundings. During traditional in-person interviews, candidates gain a sense simply by the act of parking, walking into the building, and engaging with the front desk staff by visualizing themselves working there. Remotely, this visualization is highly dependent upon the performance of the interviewer. The interviewer’s background, dress choice, lighting, and sound quality all impact the process and the chance to gather useful applicant data. Virtual backgrounds, spotty internet, and poorly lit environments distract during video meetings (Laker et al., 2021). Put a more significant effort into the presentation to promote your brand and your open position.

  3. Prepare and ask candidates to prepare. First, make sure your job description is accurate and appealing. This preparation will help eliminate mismatches. Second, test and polish your video meeting technology. Struggling with glaring tech issues during an interview will spotlight you and your organization's lack of savviness and polish. Additionally, give the candidate every opportunity to shine. Share the video meeting tool you will use with instructions on setting up and testing before the interview.

  4. Address their anxieties head-on. Some candidates will have concerns or at least questions related to in-office or remote situations, such as vaccination or masks mandates, or if the position is remote, will there be equipment provided? These topics are forefront and should be addressed and not left up to the candidate to ask. “ In more than 264 interviews, we observed candidates looking to their interviewer to address questions about pandemic-era remote work arrangements and organizational culture (Laker et al., 2021).

To hire the best, create a memorable and useful interview, by considering the limitations and opportunities of the video medium and being aware of your interviewee’s perspective.

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Laker, B., Godley, W., Patel, C., & Kudret, S. (2021). Four steps to successful virtual hiring. MIT Sloan School of Management.

McCornack, S., & Ortiz, J. (2019). LaunchPad for Choices & Connections 3e (1-Term Access): An Introduction to Communication (Third ed.). Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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