Talent Acquisition

How to Interview Candidates Remotely

In many cases, getting every candidate on your recruitment shortlist in for a face-to-face interview just isn’t feasible. Telephone or video interviews can often be a quicker and less complex process, usually giving more flexibility for both the employer and the candidate. Particularly in roles with a large applicant pool, a telephone, or conference call based interview can be a great tool to start your process of narrowing down a shortlist.

Despite this, without proper planning and coordination, interviewing over the phone can add little value, disrupt your evaluation process and potentially lead to you missing out on top-talent for your business.

With this in mind, Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment has collated a series of tips for employers to get the most out of a telephone or video interview.

Robert Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment said:

Going through a full shortlist of candidates can be time-consuming, but a well-conducted telephone or skype interview can make things a lot easier. It’s often useful to take 15 minutes out before the interview to get your notes and surroundings in order, as well as making sure your technology will work!

Have an Objective

To make your telephone or video interviews as efficient as possible, plan ahead and think about exactly what you need to hear from a candidate for them to advance to the next stage of the process. Refer back to your person and job specifications and decide which are the most important factors of a candidate’s suitability or capability. This will help guide the questions you’ll ask during the interview.

Plan Your Questions

The best telephone or video interviews are conversational and free-flowing, giving both the employer and the candidate the flexibility to explore if it is a good fit. Despite this, having a planned structure will eliminate any lapses in the discussion, as well as ultimately allowing you as an employer to get what you need out of the interview. The average telephone interview is around 30 minutes, so it can be useful to have around 5-10 questions planned ahead.

Who’s Calling Who?

Make sure you’ve properly communicated the agreed time and contact details for the interview. There’s not much worse than both parties waiting for one to call the other, which could set a negative tone for the interview. As the employer, it can be a good idea to lead the exchange by agreeing that you’ll call the candidate first.

Prepare Your Environment

Where you conduct a telephone interview can make a big difference. If possible, try to book out a room where you won’t be disturbed – and let your colleagues know that you’re busy whilst the interview takes place. Removing any noise disturbances will ensure that the interview runs smoothly and there are no awkward blips in communication.

Equally, if carrying out a video interview, try to create a neutral environment where the candidate won’t be distracted by anything happening in the background of their screen.

Put the Candidate at Ease

Telephone or Skype interviews can feel awkward at times, it’s a lot harder to pick up on body language cues which can make candidates feel under even more pressure and bring out their nerves. Give the candidate the opportunity to shine by starting with some small-talk and ‘ease-in’ questions which will allow the interview to flow a lot more smoothly.

If possible, leave the trickier questions to the later stages of the interview, where the candidate will have had a better chance to settle into the situation.

About the author: Rob Scott has specialized in technical sales recruitment, particularly engineering and electronics sales recruitment, and has over 12-year operational and commercial management experience.  During his corporate life, Rob won the coveted best-performing manager award 2004 for profitability (out of 315 group managers) and won numerous other group Awards for both achievements and excellence.  Since setting up Aaron Wallis Rob has steered the company to enjoy double-digit growth year-on-year through turbulent economic times by maintaining clients and making a difference.

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