The Big Picture

Hot Tips for Interviewing a Remote Candidate

Lois Shuttleworth
09th June 2022
 < 1 min read

Most of us are now used to holding meetings remotely, many of us too may have experienced remote/virtual interviewing when meeting face-to-face isn’t possible. If you have done this, you will appreciate that meeting and interview techniques are different when speaking remotely compared with face-to-face. So, too, is interviewing for a remote worker with the added component of ensuring that the candidate is suitable to work remotely.

Below are some of the hot tips that we suggest you use when remote interviewing your remote tech team member.

1. Embrace cultural differences

Step one in any interview face-to-face or virtual is to make the candidate feel comfortable however there are other considerations to be aware of when the candidate has a different cultural background to you. 

  • The tone you use is always important to keep in mind. However, in the case of a candidate from a different cultural background, a more formal tone may be expected versus a casual more conversational tone. You may want to research this based on the candidate's cultural background.

  • If you are hiring internationally, you will need to be aware of language or slang that is typical of where you live but not where your candidate lives. If your candidate does look a little confused, take the time to explain or ask the question differently.

  • It is also good to be mindful that in some cultures it may not be usual to speak confidently about achievements. You may find you will need to adjust the question in order to drill down further to assess their skills.

  • Although speaking English may be important for the role, if English is not the candidate's first language, you might find that their accent or pronunciation makes some words difficult to understand. To address this you may need to look beyond how they are saying something, and instead, focus on the content of what they are saying.

2. Read the candidate’s body language

If you’re interviewing a remote candidate, chances are you’re doing the interview remotely. We learn a lot about a person through their body language, however, when conducting a virtual interview, much of that can be lost when it is only their head and shoulders that are visible. However, it is still helpful to be observant of body language even through the screen.

Some of the body language cues to be aware of are:

  • Eye contact and eye movement is an excellent indicator of a candidate’s feelings during a virtual job interview. Making ‘digital’ eye contact for the majority of the conversation is a strong indicator that the candidate is confident, engaged and paying attention while frequently looking away may indicate they are distracted or disengaged. Be aware in using this to judge levels of interest and confidence that from time to time the candidate may be checking notes or may have more than one screen open at the time of the interview.

  • Posture is a good indicator of how interested the candidate is in the conversation. If they are leaning toward the screen showing interest or sitting tall in the chair indicating confidence versus leaning back or slouching. Their posture too may change over the course of the interview providing some insight into how they may feel about a certain line of discussion.

  • Head tilt is also good to take note of. Tilting their head while you speak shows that the candidate is listening and is actively engaged in the discussion. 

  • Smiling is an indicator of how a person feels and is something to take note of. It provides a sense that the person is friendly, a positive person, and would make a good team member.

3. Suitability to work remotely

If your candidate is going to be working for you in a remote location you will want to be confident that they can work well on their own and can handle the challenges that come with remote work.

Some of the sample questions you may want to ask include:

  • Do you have prior experience working remotely?

  • How do you motivate yourself to work?

  • What do you bring to the table that would help you excel as a remote worker?

  • Tell me about a time when you've had to respond to a problem from a communication failure.

  • How would you handle conflict with a colleague?

  • What is your style of working?

  • What do you think will be your biggest challenge as a remote worker?

4. Technical difficulties come with the territory

As with any meeting where remote communications are required technical difficulties can and will happen, so be prepared. Your candidate is nervous so it’s your job to remain calm and positive if something at either end does occur. Suggest you call them back or if technical problems continue, reconvene the interview for another time. And of course, as with any meeting being positive and open in your manner and approach is imperative.

We are lucky to have access to technology that makes it possible for us to connect with people no matter where in the world they live. Having the right tools and the right techniques to conduct virtual meetings and interviews is a must for all organisations making for effective business as well as effective hiring for the best talent.



What is Reboarding?

Returning to the office comes with social and emotional concerns for employees. Your Reboarding strategy plays a critical role in ensuring that your employees' return to work is a positive outcome for them and your business.

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