remote interviews
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Hiring a candidate is not only about his skill set. There is a lot that needs to be checked before sending an offer letter to the ideal candidate. One can find an extensive amount of information that’s meant to help a candidate prepare for an interview. However, there is not much material for the hiring managers to navigate through a successful hiring process and filter out the best candidates for the job. 

It becomes even more difficult when you have to fill a technical position. To hire a developer it is essential to look at the requisite skill set and assess the chosen candidate’s cultural, communication, and other soft skills. While there are some bottlenecks with the offline process that we all may have come across, conducting remote interviews comes with its own set of limitations. 

Has The Pandemic Changed The Interview Process?

Irrespective of the pandemic, we were already cruising towards a digitally mature culture where remote interviews were becoming a frequent phenomenon. The pandemic has only accelerated the process. While most of us were not prepared, we all went with the flow and adopted a virtual corporate culture. So let’s discuss the process one can follow to conduct successful remote interviews for developers. 

Before we move ahead, here’s an interesting question to ask during an interview; 

“Would Nelson Mandela have made a great software engineer or a great developer?”

Seems too vague and almost ridiculous, right? But such questions are known as brain benders, and they test an individual’s ability to curate a creative solution and help you understand their problem-solving skills. Larger companies like to derive value from asking these questions and assess whether the interviewee can work as a coworker in the organization. 

Is Conducting Remote Interviews Different From Offline?

Yes, there is a difference between the two, and understanding them is essential before we move on to the actual remote interview procedure. 

In their bid to expand in different geographies, companies want to hire remote employees and harness the potential offered by a global talent pool. Another aspect of taking remote interviews is that they save time and money. Offline interviews require the interviewee and the interviewer to meet at a pre-decided location and make prior arrangements. This takes a long time, and money has to be spent on preparations. 

Imagine the plight of the person who traveled from a different city for an interview without any surety of being selected. The same goes for the interviewer, who has to prepare for the occasion and make other arrangements to ensure a seamless recruitment drive. 

Remote interviews provide a cost-effective and time-efficient substitute to offline interviews. Furthermore, availing video-interviews can further save you from asking the standard “Tell me something about yourself” or “Who are you” questions. You can ask the applicants to send in introductory videos and shortlist the candidates to be taken to the next round of interviews from there.

Setting Up Goals For Remote Interviews

This part of the interview is similar for both remote and offline interviews. The goals of conducting a personal interaction with the candidate include;

  • Will the candidate be able to work on coding if they come on board?
  • Will the candidate be able to discuss the same code and its problems understandably with his/her colleagues?
  • Is the candidate easy to work with?

These goals are customary to keep in mind while interviewing. You can create other objectives that have more specific distinctions according to the position for which you are conducting the interview. 

Moreover, always keep in mind that every person in an interview is bound to make some mistakes. Nervousness gets to the best of us. However, your job must be to analyze the mistakes and decide if they are silly mistakes or reasonable ones.

Preparations To Make Before Remote Interviews

Conducting a successful interview is only as effective as the process you follow for the same. Follow these steps to prepare yourself for the process:

1. Check Your Technical Tools

Technical glitches can quickly derail your interview and send out a wrong message to the candidate. So, to avoid running into an embarrassing technical error always;

  • Have the latest video interview tool – It does not matter if you are using Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or any other communication tool. Just ensure that you have the latest version. 
  • Share links – Every type of communication tool requires the interested parties to share links beforehand. Send your Google Meet or Zoom links to the candidate at least 30 minutes before the interview.
  • Test run the equipment – For the interview, you may be using external equipment like a camera or a microphone or in-built equipment of the laptop. Test run them to make sure they are working fine. Although the virtual meeting software lets you take a test run before joining the meeting, you can do the same with a colleague. Run your screen share also once so that when the time comes, it does not cause trouble

2. Create A Non-Disturbing Environment

You should not be disturbed during an interview. We have seen endless examples of people talking to their colleagues or other representatives being interrupted by their family members, messages, or some other element. As an interviewer, you must mute all your notifications and distractions.

Along with this, do not sit at a place where the light is directly behind you. It will cloud the camera, and the light’s reflection will darken your face while brightening everything else, reducing your visibility to the candidate. Unless you want to make a silhouette out of your image, we suggest that you sit against the light and make sure that it falls onto your face. 

3. Have A Script In Your Hand Or Your Computer

Even with the experience of conducting interviews, it is always good to have a ready script in your hand. It can include your introductory excerpt as well as a few questions you may want to ask. 

Then, depending on the position (in this case, a developer), prepare a list of standard questions that you want to ask. You can have follow-up questions as you move ahead and get answers from the candidate.

4. Help The Candidate By Giving Them A Heads Up

Start by giving the candidate a heads up on the expectations of the interview. You can share an open-list of technical concepts that might pop up during the interview. It will make the process more simple and easy to follow for the candidate, who is also new to this online procedure like you. 

Conducting the Interview

The steps you take while taking an interview are a mix of preparatory aspects and some impromptu topics. While you can prepare yourself to start asking the relevant questions, the further you move in an interview, the scope of being digressed increases. 

To check digression in an interview, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Plan out the entire interview – Always set a time limit for the interview. Start by asking the introductory questions (5 to 10 minutes), take another 5 minutes to discuss the resume, and another 45 minutes (industry standard) for the coding test. Keep the last few minutes for sharing the feedback and instructions. 
  • Start by building trust with the applicant – As we stated before, taking an interview remotely has not become the new normal as of yet. We are getting there, but it will take some time to get used to. To do that, don’t jump the gun and start asking questions right away. Ask the candidate about how they are doing. Keep it semi-formal. Ask them if they have something to drink with them. Then share a little about yourself, the company, the position, and then move on to asking questions. These things are necessary to build trust and ease the candidate into a remote interview process.
  • Express clearly and fastidiously – The most important aspect of taking an interview is understanding the body language, and this goes both ways. So, when either of you is not able to read the body language, your way of speaking and expressions have to be spot on. During the interview, nod or smile to show that you are listening. The point is not to sit still and give an impression that your screen has frozen. The candidate will probably get confused and stop while speaking, which will make them nervous.
  • Give the candidate some space – Again, this has to do with the video interview. You need to give the candidate some space before and after they speak. So, when you have asked a question, do not expect them to start answering right away. Similarly, when they have finished an answer, or you think they have finished it, don’t start talking immediately. Wait for 3-4 seconds before you can ask the next question. This helps with two things. One, you will give the candidate enough space to start and finish a sentence. Second, it allows for the lag to be removed and get you both synced together instead of cutting each other off mid-interview.
  • Talk about the team in-between – During the interview, either in the beginning or spread sporadically, talk about the team your candidate might be working with. This will help them understand what kind of projects your team is working on, and maybe they have something similar to share.
  • Taking the coding test – There are several methods to take the coding test. One way is to use a public open-source platform like GitHub and ask the candidate to either optimize a code solution or create a new module to perform a particular function. Or you can also ask them to debug an existing code. Every type of test has its own set of qualities to help you identify the candidate’s ability to code. If you do not want to use GitHub and help the candidate benefit from the autocomplete sequences of the platform, go with Google Docs. Prepare a Google Doc and outline the problem at the top, asking the candidate to write the code for the stated problem. Even Google uses this method to assess the candidates. Other options to take the coding test is using a collaborative coding platform like Visual Studio Code or Teletype for Atom.
  • Collaborate with the interview team – Having 2 to 3 rounds of a technical interview is normal. But, to ensure a smooth interview process, it is important to have a coordinated conversation among the interviewers.

After the Interview Is Over

Conducting a successful remote interview is not over until and unless you have completed the post-interview steps. 

  • Record your inputs immediately – Once the interview is over, all the interviewers must record their feedback and inputs right away. This will help to analyze the candidate and create a synchronized report. 
  • Communicate the next steps – It is essential that you clearly explain the following steps to the candidate once the interview is over. If there are more rounds to follow, communicate the same and if you need more time to assess their profiles, then too, give them a direct response. You can ask the candidates for a time frame to send a befitting response. In any case, do not leave them in the dark. 

To Sum It Up

Moving forward in time, the majority of the companies will look for ways to create global remote teams and get the work done virtually. In that scenario, conducting remote interviews will be as normal as it is today to run offline interactions. 

So, you must be prepared to go through the entire process while selecting the right candidates to interview. While you must take the interview yourself, Skuad can help you shortlist the candidates who are most likely to fit in your organization

Our team of assessment experts takes a close look at the candidates as per your requirements while helping you hit the right match effectively. Apart from helping you shorten the list of interviewees, we can also assist with onboarding and creating orientation procedures that are synchronous with your company’s policies and values. 

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