Job Prospect

Practical Tips to Conduct Productive Remote Interviews During Lockdown

July 28, 2020 0 Comments

Humans are a social animal, so I have been told and to some extent, I do believe that as well. But the level of being social differs from person to person. In my humble opinion, this need for social interaction is also contingent with time. You might too have experienced and noticed that your social interaction might have changed during childhood, teenage, youth and then adult life. I currently am in the phase of adult life and have a wife, children and a fulltime job. This leaves much less time for social interaction with others. The little time I have spare is spent on technology, fitness or other hobbies but nevertheless, priorities are constantly changing due to the responsibilities attached to being an adult having a family. This was at least my idea of me being not so social, however, so came the COVID 19 pandemic and changed everything upside down! I started to have urges to meet my friends, do the activities which include social interaction with others. 

Recruitment process 
I am not going to focus too much on the interview process, if you are interested in reading my opinion you might want to consider reading other blog posts that we have available. However, I still have to include some basic principles of recruiting for the purpose to show the change and the challenges caused by Covid19 pandemic.  

During the recruitment process at either the first or second phase, you end up talking to a person from HR. Normally the first conversation is made on a phone while the second tends to be in person. During this process both the recruiter and the one being recruited (a potential employee) get the chance the evaluate the other partner I.e. the employer evaluates and gets the first impression of applicant and vice versa. As 70-80% of communication is non-verbal and mainly body language the social interaction becomes quite important. This element is quite important if you ask both the participating parties, also considering how to evaluate someone who you really do not know boils down to the first meeting. You might have heard or read the saying; The first impression is the last impression! 

Covid 19 – Lockdown 
So along now comes Covid19 and social distancing along with complete lockdowns. Every business is trying to minimize the impact of this new disease and is trying to do so by following advice and recommendations made by health authorities. One of the most common advice made from several health authorities in Europe has been to avoid having gatherings, and rather use internet-based conferencing. So almost everyone who can, in spite of they being technically capable or not is trying to follow the recommendation. The result though is very different for everyone trying. To be honest, the chances are, if you are a normal worker with an average non-technical job you would not know that much about online conferencing. I see that you disagree with me, yelling at me how ignorant I must be making such a claim, when Skype has been around for ages, Facetime, and not to mention Facebook messenger, and what about Signal, WhatsApp, Viber etc the list just keeps ongoing. Well, I understand your frustration, but please bear with me as I try to make my case. As you might have noticed and guessed, most of these products are target on private use and probably are not even for the business market. Those products which are or at least are worth mentioning a very least is Lync! Now back to the problem description, as you use a product to talk to your family, friends or someone else with whom you have a personal relationship is NOT the same as talking to someone whom you have a business relationship with or might end up getting a business relationship with, do you now see the difference? Let’s use a quick and short example, you might want to have a facetime, or video session with your girlfriend, boyfriend, family member etc. Will such a session force you to be well prepared? What I mean to say, you shall most probably have some general discussion or topic that are important and/or relevant to you. But there is not formalness with it.  

Now consider the scenario where you are trying to land your dream job, which is a position in a big company. Will you just make a call without being properly prepared? And if your answer is yes, you might end up not getting that job. Based on this justification, we can at least agree on the fact that using a tool privately is not the same as using it in a professional context.  

Remote interview 
The saviour for businesses being in need of new resources in the form of recruits and employees, is something called a remote interview, especially during this Covid19 pandemic. This is the better option as compared to interview in person, or is it? Let’s explore some of the key elements of a remote/online interview, both with regards to being an employer and being an applicant 

Being host or organizer  
This definitely can introduce some challenges for the employer if online interviewing and the online meeting has not been a part of the company’s history. There are number of things that need to be considered both before conducting the interview as well as during and after the interview. As previously stated in this post, the applicant who will be interviewed will also form his picture of the potential employer. Hence being the representant of company/business you must be professional and make a professional impression. There are some best practices for online meetings that can and to be honest should be followed. Let’s enlist these in random order and describe each element briefly 

1) Internet Connection Speed 
Being the host or guest participating in the online interview, internet speed does matter. If you have bad WIFI coverage or in general a lot of bandwidth consumption chances are that the quality of your online meeting will suffer. And when this happens, you might say sorry a couple of times, but after that, you are starting to make an impression, which will be quite long-lasting. Representing the business, you might give the idea that the company has or uses sluggish, outdated or malfunctioning systems. Being on the other side of the table you might give the idea that you might not have properly prepared for such an important event namely the interview. This too does not score well with the recruiter. 

2) Background Environment 
Please make sure that you sit in an office, room or a cabin without background noise. Have you ever had a phone call where the seller is trying to sell you something, you are interested in buying but you just can understand half of the conversation due to the background noise. Or you are describing relevant job experience, but in the background you dog is barking, kids are listening to nursery rimes or watching cartoons.  As people do have a lenient approach and might understand your position, this might still weaken your position and give the impression you not being professional enough! 

3) Presentation 
The presentation is also one of the most important things during and online interview. This applies to the presentation of the participants I.e. being in presentable condition as well as the presentation that might be used as material for the meeting. Having a good structure is pivotal to keep you audience engaged and keep on having their attention. Use of monotone speech, choice of a bad theme, or simple choice of colors that might not be easily visible on the screen all are part of the presentation. 

4) Being human 
Even though the interview is being conducted online, remember that we are humans and need to stretch out our legs, visit the toilet or have a need to fetch a glass of water, tea or coffee. But please also bear in mind that even though dirking beverages is permissible eating is strictly off-limits. Imagine have a meeting with someone who already has their mouthful while trying to talk to you. 

5) Correct Equipment 
Use of camera makes sure that all the participants are engaged. However, it is sometimes difficult to remember or easy to forget that you are being watched. Always make sure that your background is presentable while using the camera. Using the camera in the mobile might seem to be a good idea, but if you attending to be the host, remember that you would be using the same pair of hands to take down notes. A camera attached to the computer gives a much more professional image rather that you holding your mobile camera with your arm extended out to provide a good enough picture.

6)  Media Files and Sensitive Data 
Often if not always, a presentation includes information that is considered confidential, I.e. the information is meant to be available for the general public. This information can be a part of the presentation that you present for a candidate who meets you in person, as the person will not be taking the contents with them. While when the same content is presented during an online interview, the guest might take screenshots or pictures. Rather be safe and careful than being sorry. 

7) Presentation Skills 
It is a good idea to have gone through the presentation and interview theme in advance. You do not want to start using functions during the interview, which you are not comfortable using. For example, if you are asked a question about benefits the company offers to employees, and you do not remember and you start searching on your intranet site. During the entire process you expose information unintentionally, or in the other scenario where you have files opened on your computer while you are sharing your screen.  

8) Wrapping it up 
Make sure to have a summary at the end of the interview, as you would in person and answer any questions. Agree upon how you will provide feedback on points, concerns or questions raised during the interview.  

9) General Tips 
For online meetings, it is generally a good practice to make people wait in the lobby before you let them in the meeting room. This has several benefits like for example you have control over who is participating and entering the interview. Besides that, if you have any technical issues these can be resolved before you start people enter the room/meeting. It is also a good practice to test the meeting room and equipment before the meeting starts. If there are several people attending/conducting the interview it would be a good idea to put everyone on mute and allow one person to talk at a time.

Online meeting tools have functions as raising the hand for questions, or chat-based communication. It could also to be wise to inform about the data collection and retention especially with regards to GDPR.