As individuals and companies shift toward workflows and processes that occur primarily or solely in a remote environment, many new challenges present themselves. Those people searching for jobs may find it harder than ever to discern whether companies are compatible with their professional goals, and companies may also find it challenging to get accurate information about candidates during the screening and interview process.
Several key areas will look far different in a remote job market, and it would be good to keep in mind ways to still make the hiring process successful for both applicants and employers.
Sharing Company Culture
As most people and companies understand, hiring on skill, knowledge, and expertise alone can still lead to a poor fit. Company culture is more important than ever, particularly for younger demographics. And those hunting for a position often take their time to diligently research a company to ensure that their culture is also a good match.
Yet culture encapsulates so many elements, from team dynamics to patterns of communication, and many of these are generally recognized through direct observation—a process that’s very limited in remote hiring.
While it may seem like a formidable challenge, companies can still successfully convey a lot about company culture through technology. Consider the platforms they use and how they may inhibit or promote collaboration. You can also observe much about team dynamics, particularly if you’re holding your preliminary meetings and interviews via video conference.
You may also inquire about culture through your recruiter and during interactions with other employees, or even look at online reviews of the employer. Culture is being conveyed to you through every step of your interaction with the company, from initial engagement to hiring (or the conclusion of the interview process). While it may not be as overt as you’d notice in person, analyzing all of your digital interactions can still provide a strong understanding of the existing culture.
Topics During Interviews
Remote interviewing can be tricky. Most of us have come to expect standard questions during in-person interviews, and while many of these questions are still relevant and should be expected, there may be a whole new set of questions specific to remote working. This is especially true if remote work will be a permanent part of your position.
Employers and interviewees alike should prepare questions surrounding the following topics:
- Do you have experience working from home? Did you work remotely full or part time?
- How is your day structured when you’re working from home?
If the candidate needs to be available during certain hours, this should be made clear. If they may structure their time freely, this should also be communicated—although it would be good to get a sense for when they will be devoting time to their duties.
- How proficient are you at working with certain technologies or learning new ones?
Most organizations have already implemented new technologies and platforms to enable remote work; it’s a great idea to get a feel for the candidates’ proficiency with existing ones, capacity to learn new ones, and even ability to introduce new tools they’ve worked with previously.
- How do you prioritize tasks?
- Do you feel comfortable with digital collaboration?
- Do you have all of the tools and resources you’d need to work remotely?
These sample questions can give you an idea of what additional topics may be discussed during a remote interview, although there may be additional ones specific to the company. Employers should think deeply about their expectations for remote workers and structure interview questions that best fit with company dynamics.
Similarly, candidates should also ask questions related to new workflow patterns, such as:
- How do you maintain strong team collaboration?
- What technologies do you use to facilitate collaboration and communication?
- What tools and resources are available to complete digital work?
- Who may I contact when questions arise, and what’s the most appropriate channel (phone call, email, video chat, etc.)?
Questions similar to this can give both the employer and the candidate a better feel for how successful the candidate will be within the existing organizational framework and culture.
Technology and Tips for Video Interviews
Many employers use video platforms for team meetings, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and many others. Some employers go above and beyond this and have adopted an integrated video interviewing platform, such as VidCruiter or MyInterview, which can organize candidate information and screening processes.
No matter which platform or technology is being used, it’s crucial that both parties feel comfortable with it prior to the scheduled interview. For candidates, this means that they should carefully follow any instructions concerning software downloads and tests. You may also be able to search for videos or tutorials prior to the meeting to give you an overview of how it works. Being comfortable with the technology will help you focus on delivering stronger answers.
Other key tips that should be considered prior to the interview itself include:
- Find a quiet space in your home, ideally with a businesslike atmosphere and minimal clutter. The interviewers are getting insight into your actual living space, so care should be taken to present it in its best light.
- Dress professionally, with attention to how it may appear on video. As with a standard in-person interview, you must dress the part and look professional. You may also want to avoid strong patterns as they can be distracting while on video.
- Consider the noise level. You must be respectful of the interviewers’ time and demonstrate that they have your complete attention.
- Test the connection and view prior to the interview. Ensure that nothing is being inadvertently displayed on the picture in the background, get a feel for how your selected attire will look on video, and adjust the lighting and sound, if necessary.
While remote interviewing may be a foreign process for many professionals, it will likely be a mainstay for many industries even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted. Being comfortable with the process, enthusiastic about the meeting, and flexible with the interview are the best actions you can take to ensure that this entire process goes smoothly.