How to prepare candidates for telephone and Skype interviews

Remote interviewing techniques are growing in popularity. Almost two thirds (63%) of HR Managers now use video interviews as part of the recruitment process, up from just 14% in 2011.

There are many reasons that this figure is on the rise, including:

  • Speeding up the shortlisting process, so only the strongest candidates are invited to a face-to-face interview
  • Getting to know leftfield candidates and contractors that might bring a new perspective to a role
  • Communicating company values to applicants, and briefing them on items they should prepare for next stage interviews
  • Considering candidates in broader locations for a possible remote working role
  • Cutting the time, cost and carbon footprint of the interview process

As a recruiter, you may be asked to prepare applicants for a video or telephone interview, to support your clients’ recruitment initiatives. While the basic techniques remain the same, there are some unique elements to consider when contractors are not physically in the room with a potential employer.

Here are some things you may wish to consider if you’re getting candidates ready for a remote interview:

Technology

One of the basic challenges impacting candidates’ remote interview performance is technology. Make sure they understand what software the conversation will be conducted through, and have the latest version installed on their mobile or laptop.

Encourage applicants to practice logging in and connecting – if needs be you can run a preparation call through the platform they’ll be using for the interview, in order to get them used to it.

Location

Many employees prefer remote interviews as they’re easier to fit around their current commitments. However, if they’re not going to an office for the occasion, they need to think carefully about where to base themselves.

A local coffee shop might be convenient, for example, but background noise can interfere with the conversation. Equally, if it’s just around the corner from their current job, they run the risk of being seen by a colleague! A quiet, solitary environment is often better suited for Skype and video calls – and many candidates perform better in a place where they feel comfortable, like their home.

Advise applicants to think carefully about where in their home they want to sit. They also need to consider what surface they are going to rest their laptop on and what will be in the background during their interview. Even a well-presented candidate can be let down by a messy home!

If the interview will be conducted via telephone, make sure that your contractors check their signal strength before making the call. There’s nothing worse than a phone conversation that keeps cutting out, as it interrupts the flow of discussion.

Body language and attention

It’s sometimes harder to establish a chemistry with someone when you’re conversing remotely, as you can’t build on the visual cues they give off as easily. When people are talking to a screen, their attention often wanders, and they find themselves losing focus and eye contact.

Ensure your contractors are well briefed on paying attention during video interviews. Get them to look at the camera rather than the screen, and make sure they engage with the interviewer directly at all times.

It’s also worth discussing crib notes. While they may have a few key points to hand for safety, try and dissuade them from constantly looking at a notepad – this can make it seem like they are ill-prepared at best, disinterested at worst.

Take the time to prepare your candidates properly

While telephone and online interviews may be a convenient option for employers, candidates can find them overwhelming and stressful. Therefore, it’s important that you take the time to prepare contractors for the experience – holding practice interviews if needs be, to help them excel over the phone or on camera.

The unfortunate reality is that most recruitment agencies don’t put enough investment into prepping contractors for remote interviews, simply because they don’t have the time. But just as HR teams are using digital tools like video chat to improve the recruitment process, agencies need to think about technologies available to refocus their energy.

For example, reviewing your operational set-up isn’t always a top priority, but it can have a massive impact on the time you have available to spend with clients. Investing in recruitment back office technology automates everyday processes such as formatting and submitting timesheets, approving expense claims, sending invoices and chasing payments – so your team can devote their attention to contractors’ needs.

Book a free ETZ recruitment back office technology demo and see how our solutions can cut the time and effort of managing agency administration tasks.