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Saara Saalamo on April 30, 2020

Tips for building a fully remote interview process


Despite the uncertain times we’re going through, many companies are still recruiting. We are now finding ourselves face to face with a whole new challenge: traditional hiring practices like in-person interviews aren’t currently possible, and we don’t know if and when we can even consider them in the future.

Due to recommendations to stay at home and for the health and safety of both recruiters and candidates, the best option is to build a fully remote hiring process

Doing so isn’t just helpful in a COVID-19 world, but also afterwards. We don’t know what the new normal will be, and having the processes in place for remote hiring can only benefit you and your candidates, whether you’re hiring people in your neighborhood or from all over the world.

We spoke with Senior Recruitment Specialist Malin Westman from Volvo Cars to hear her insights about running a remote interviewing process—here are four concrete tips you can implement in your organization. 

Screen candidates with pre-recorded video interviews 

One great candidate screening solution for all types of roles is pre-recorded video interviews. Especially now, video interviews matter more than ever. With pre-recorded interviews, you can easily filter candidates at an early stage in the hiring process. This method is especially useful when you have a large number of applications. You get a better sense of someone’s personality by seeing how they act on video, which helps you narrow down your top candidates.

Video questions and answers can be recorded from anywhere at any time, which also makes things easier for the candidates: they can answer your questions whenever is convenient for them instead of agreeing on a specific time and place.

This solution is helpful for both entry-level roles and more senior positions—let’s go through a couple of examples to illustrate this even further. 

Screening for entry-level roles

When asked about screening candidates with pre-recorded interviews for entry-level positions, Malin Westman from Volvo Cars had a great example in mind.

She explains that for their Volvo Engineering Student Concept (VESC) program, they received around 350 applications. They initially began manually screening candidates to check whether their educational backgrounds were relevant for the role in question. After this first step, they sent video interviews to around 100 top candidates.

“I use RecRight’s pre-recorded video interviews in the screening process before calling candidates and scheduling personal meetings or live interviews. It’s useful when you have a lot of candidates, and it helps make my work more efficient,” Malin explains.

She goes on to add: “I like using video interviews because you get a personal view of candidates, you see how they act and react. It’s not necessarily their responses that are the most important, but how they handle themselves in this situation that says a lot about them as a person.” 

According to Malin, pre-recorded video interviews make the whole screening process a lot smoother. “Together with assessments, video interviews are a really great way to do the screening process. And it’s not only for students or entry-level roles.”

Screening for management and senior level roles 

As mentioned, pre-recorded interviews work just as well for more senior level roles, and Malin Westman has a lot of experience with these as well. In her previous role she used video interviews to screen candidates for positions including sales managers, CEOs, CFOs, process engineers, and production managers.

Malin explains that when hiring for CEO roles, she would receive many applications and it was important for her as a recruitment consultant to properly screen these candidates. According to Malin, it’s crucial to be as clear as possible about each step in the hiring process and communicate the importance of each step to candidates.

“For one CEO role a couple of years ago, I received almost 100 applications and I was getting many calls from candidates. I learned to be clear in communicating that at this stage, I won’t be taking phone calls. If they have quick questions, I asked them to write me an email,” she summarizes. “Then I explained the purpose of the video interview.” Malin adds that she also did candidate assessments in addition to the video interviews, and ended up just meeting eight candidates in the final interviews.

Here at RecRight, we also used pre-recorded video interviews when hiring our new CEO.

Use live interviews as an alternative to in-person interviews

Another way to incorporate video interviews into your hiring process is by replacing your face-to-face interviews with remote meetings. When hiring remotely, you have to replicate the traditional meeting room with a digital environment like Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, and our platform RecRight, which allows you to record the interview and analyze it later.

It’s a good idea to still treat live interviews like in-person interviews. So, just like you normally would, prepare questions ahead of time and try to keep things conversational: this helps you put the candidate at ease. It’s also a good idea to remove all unnecessary distractions: stay in a quiet room, put your phone away, and keep the interview video on full screen at all times.

You could also do a technical trial run before the actual interview to get acquainted with your tool and avoid any technical problems from interrupting the interview. And have a plan B ready in case something does go wrong on either side. 

Create a standardized video interviewing process

When you start doing video interviews, the goal should always be to build a consistent and sustainable recruiting process with your team. This way, it’s easy for new recruiters and hiring managers to get on board with how things are done at your company. It also keeps the process consistent from the candidate’s point of view, and makes for a better candidate experience

Train hiring managers using video 

You can organize remote training sessions, and record all hiring manager training as video clips so they’ll be easier to share in the future. At RecRight, for example, we put together video guides for different steps of the interview process.

Share interview tips, best practices, and interview questions suitable for different roles with everyone in your company who is involved in recruitments.

Malin shares that when hiring students for the VESC program, useful questions included: why they want to work for the company, what they think they can contribute, and how they collaborate with other students.

So, come up with role-specific questions instead of just going for the classic “where do you see yourself in five years” regardless of which position you’re hiring for. This way you gain more valuable information from your candidates, and will understand whether they’re a good fit for that specific position or not.

Communicate within your video interviewing platform

When you’re able to score and rate candidates, and leave comments all in one place, it’s easier to ensure transparency among the hiring team. When the entire process is clear and transparent, recruiters and hiring managers can challenge each other’s decisions and discuss the decisions in more detail. This, in turn, reduces bias and ensures fairness in hiring decisions.

Clarify candidate expectations 

Clear candidate communication is always important, including when hiring fully remotely. Openly share you're doing a fully remote process and explain what tools they’ll need, confirm that their application was received, and share a timeline and overview for the process. Keep your candidates fully informed at every stage of the hiring process, and when in doubt, over-communicate.

“It’s important to regularly communicate with candidates in these circumstances, but that’s always important for me,” explains Malin. “I reach out to all candidates twice during the period after they apply via an automated answer from our system. I send emails to all candidates to say that we’re working, but don’t have an answer yet. In these COVID-19 times, I inform them if some recruitment process is on hold, and when it’ll start again,” she continues. 

It’s also a good idea to explain the purpose of pre-recorded video interviews. Malin explains: “It’s important to present video interviews in the right way to candidates, and explain what the aim of the video interview is. I say ‘This is just for me to get a better grip of who you are.’ If you describe it in a good way from the beginning, candidates will understand the purpose and be more relaxed.”

Even though people are getting more used to remote processes, it’s never a bad idea to make sure that candidates are aware of why things are done in a certain way.

If you want to learn more about creating an agile recruitment process, you can read how we helped our customer JYSK perfect their remote recruitment process

Get the right remote recruitment tools 

Finally, to create a smooth remote recruitment process and a better candidate experience, you need to get the right tools in place.

Interviewing candidates

If you’re considering video interviews, you need to find a video recruitment platform that allows for both pre-recorded and live video interviews—especially if you start getting many applications.

“RecRight is easy to use, and it’s great that you can use both live and pre-recorded video interviews. It feels like a modern tool, and it integrates with our recruitment system,” explains Malin.

If you want to know more about what you can do with RecRight, you can read more about our product here.

Tracking and assessing candidates

The best option is a tool that allows you to perform all required tasks within the same platform. For example, having all the relevant tools for tracking candidates and commenting on their applications and progress within the same system is a factor that can make the process smoother.

Some systems like Smart Recruiters, one of our integration partners, also include candidate assessment and skill testing tools that can often be useful when comparing and contrasting between applications.

Colleague communication

It’s a good idea to use a business messaging platform like Slack for internal communication on the recruitment process, and communicate with colleagues about candidates directly on their video responses.

When using a business messaging platform, it’s also easier to monitor that only the relevant people have access to the information regarding the process, and that confidential information stays confidential. 

Candidate communication

To ensure an awesome candidate experience, don’t forget to add a little something special to your candidate communication. For example, you can send personalized messages and automated messages for general updates through your ATS, or use a virtual recruitment assistant like TalentAdore’s (one of our integration partners) to send messages for you.

Keep the candidate informed and aware of all twists and turns in the process, and their experience of your company will remain positive—even if you end up choosing a different person for a particular role. 

Want to know more? 

If you’re hiring right now, or know about upcoming needs, you should make the most of our extended 30-day free trial and see how easy it is to hire 100% remotely. It’s easy, convenient, and free. 

If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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Saara Saalamo

Marketing Lead