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How to conduct a remote interview successfully

Steve Oliver, Executive Coach and Trainer, SYLO | Beyond HR

Conducting job interviews remotely is now widely accepted and in many cases expected, following a more permanent move towards home and hybrid working. But are remote interviews working well for you and your business? Are your techniques effective? If you are losing out on your first choice of candidates for roles that you are recruiting for, then it may be worth re-examining your remote interviewing style – individually and organisationally – to identify potential improvement points. Find out how.

In today's candidate-driven market where there are more job vacancies than jobseekers, this is an ideal time to reflect, re-adjust and if necessary adopt new disciplines that will enable you to stand out from your competitors and present yourself as an employer that people really want to work for.

Here are some key thoughts to help you re-evaluate and re-structure your remote job interviews.

Correct structure

Have you got the balance, right? The WASP (Welcome, Ask, Supply, Part) mantra where the focus is on Ask, indicates that 75% of the interview should be focused on creating a dialogue with candidates that fully explores their experience, the nature of the opportunity they are looking for and how it fits with the role that is available. During this section, competency-based questions and active listening techniques need to be fully deployed. But what about the Welcome, Supply and Part aspects of the interview? How well prepared and consistent are these? Are any of them overrunning and compromising the 75% of time that should be focussed on Ask?

EQ more important than ever

The IQ element continues to be an area of focus but dialling up the EQ (emotional intelligence) has never been more important. We really need people in the team that can connect with others when predominantly the conversations will be remote. To explore this area, you might need to drill into how they manage challenging situations all the way through to their values and beliefs, understanding their resilience along the way.

Body language is still key!

Don’t give up on your and their body language just because you’re not meeting in person. Consider setting the camera closer to you and use this to draw them in. This closeness leads to openness and is led by the moves you make.

Professional approach

It's essential to turn up for every interview fully prepared and with a consistent approach. Ultimately this is an external meeting and needs to be treated as such. It may sound obvious, but have you and any others involved in the interview dressed correctly, is the backdrop sending the 'right' company message (that bookshelf need tidying?) and are you energised and focused? You need to conclude any previous meetings at least 15 minutes in advance to ensure the candidate gets to see you and your organisation at its best. Are you ready to be inspiring about your business and act as an ambassador for it?

Human approach

This may sound a little counterintuitive but why not send the candidate an overview of you and your business? Even a link to your LinkedIn profile will send a positive signal. As a step to selling yourself and your company it sends a powerful message that you understand the importance of good communication and connecting with people.

Consider asking some key questions as to how the candidate fared in the pandemic - the good, the bad and the ugly things that emerged. What did they learn about themselves and others? Many people did amazing voluntary work or informally supported a neighbour while others got involved I the huge testing effort. What inspiring answers might you get by reaching out to people on a more personal level?

Are you attracting the best candidates?

There’s a huge wealth of attitude and intelligence out there that needs to be tapped into. Recruitment agencies such as Allen Associates continue to diversify their approaches to reach and identify the best candidates. There’s no doubt that many candidates now expect to work in an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment. So, if you haven’t built this into your thinking before, now is an excellent time to start.

Crystallise your thinking

Of course, the HR Managers among you may have interviewed consistently throughout the last couple of years but this won’t necessarily be the case for other team managers within your organisation. What experiences have you had that add to the points I have raised above? It may be worth capturing and sharing these. What help might managers need? Could your Marketing and Communications team get involved and help coach your managers on how to 'sell' the business as well as themselves?

Make every interview count

This is an ideal time to reassess how your remote interviews are working for you. You’re having to push hard to attract the best candidates and you need to ensure everyone is optimising every interview opportunity they have.

About the author

Steve Oliver, Executive Coach and Trainer, SYLO | Beyond HR.

As a qualified ILM (Level 7) Executive Coach and Mentor, I enjoy seeing the changes in people using my relaxed but enthusiastic approach. I have worked across a wide range of sectors (e.g., consultancies, health, software) and levels (e.g., Marketing Manager, Head of Support, VP EMEA) with a clear focus on personal growth. My approach can be role transition based or transformational – tackling issues like self-belief.  Previously I have held Director level roles for over 20 years at the likes of Honda UK and BMW Group as well as a medium-sized consultancy.  I continue to be involved in training development and interactive delivery with SYLO | Beyond HR.

You can contact Steve on 07807 079032 or email him at