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A guide to conducting remote interviews

22 October 2020
A guide to conducting remote interviews

The Coronavirus pandemic has placed us in strange and uncertain times, affecting every industry in some way. As we adjust to the ‘new normal’, recruitment has begun to increase again, albeit not to the same levels as pre-covid.

When hiring, it is important to ensure the successful candidate has all the necessary qualifications and desired experience. It is also about the candidate and business getting to know each other on a more personal level, which without face to face interaction, can be more difficult.

The goal of interviews should remain the same: for all parties to leave a positive impression and to ascertain the best candidate for the vacant position. Below are some considerations for conducting a remote interview.

Set expectations

It is important that before the interview commences all parties involved are on the same page about all aspects of the interview. It should be clear as to whether the interview will be just audio or a video interview, the software that will be used and an introductory email introducing all participants of the interview, their role at the interview and setting out an interview agenda.

Prepare technology

There is the perception that by conducting interviews from home, the process becomes more casual. However, this may lead participants to feel less of a need to prepare ahead of the interview. An aspect of preparation that should not be overlooked is technology. The interviewer should provide the interviewee with the opportunity for a test run ahead of the interview to ensure they are familiar with the platform being used to conduct the interview.

It would be naive to think that all remote interviews will be conducted without some aspect of technical difficulties such as wifi dropping out or an issue with the video platform itself. Therefore, it is good practice to have the candidate’s contact number in front of you should the interview need to be completed via phone.

If interviewers require the candidate to show their work or make a presentation during the interview, they should ask them to provide a copy beforehand to ensure that the material can be seen, should there be a technological issue.

Read more: How to manage remote employees effectively


Technological issues and inexperience in conducting remote interviews can both lead to awkward silences and confusion. Therefore, interviewers should have prepared their most important questions ahead of the interview, just as they would for an in-person interview. After the questions have been asked, ample time should be given for responses to be provided. An interviewer should not rush any follow-up questions. They should make sure that a candidate has finished their response before moving on.


If an interview is being conducted by video, participants must ensure that their environment is appropriate. They should make sure that they are not sitting in front of a window or direct light behind as this will make it difficult for them to be seen. Participants should also make sure that they have removed any clutter which may distract them during the interview. In particular, any confidential documentation that can be seen via the camera.

Interviewers should understand that some candidates might not have access to a laptop/computer with a video camera or a quiet space with four walls and this should not be held against them.

Don’t forget the small talk

The walk to the interview room or the escort from the building after the interview provide participants with the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal basis. The interview is where the professional abilities are assessed but these moments before and after, give interviewers the chance to get know what the candidate will be like to work with. Therefore, it is important that this aspect is preserved in remote interviews by giving a moment before the interview commences once the call has begun.

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