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Question: I’m an HR Business Partner for a medical equipment supply company that is scrambling to fill a large number of job openings remotely. Without the benefit of in-person queues – handshakes, personal energy, body language – I don’t feel as confident in my skills to gauge candidate fit through a Zoom box. Do you have any tips for how to improve my remote interviewing skills?
Answer: As the pandemic and its evolving offshoot, the Great Resignation, continue to reshape the modern workplace, remote interviewing is here to stay. Today’s job hunters aren’t just looking for a paycheck. They’re also seeking work that aligns with their new normal – flexibility, well-being, and a workplace culture that aligns with their own values and sensibilities. Interviews that delve into these topics can give both parties valuable information about whether a prospective employee is likely to feel fulfilled and engaged at a particular organization. Here are three tips to add to your remote interviewing toolkit.
Focus on emotional intelligence. When conducting a virtual interview, it can be tempting to give up on the EQ aspect since it seems like a quality that’s best assessed in person. But this can lead to poor decision-making. When honing your interview questions, consider what each one might tell you about a person’s EQ. Here are some examples:
- If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would its top three values be?
- Tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that conflict, and were you able to resolve it?
- If you’ve previously reported to multiple supervisors at the same time, how did you get to know each person’s preferences and juggle conflicting priorities?
Get real about the challenges of the pandemic. We’ve all faced an enormous set of challenges over the past year and a half, and it’s possible to learn a great deal about someone by exploring how they’ve navigated the turbulence of the pandemic. Ask a question like, “What was the greatest challenge you faced during Covid, and how did you overcome it?” Then look for signs that the answer you’re getting is authentic: Does the candidate pause to think about the question, taking a moment to reflect? Does the expression on their face align with the tone of their voice?
Notice reactions to distractions. The ringing doorbell, the barking dog, a child’s crying out are all now a familiar part of the online meeting mix. If this happens, consider it an opportunity to glimpse another side of the candidate. Did they get flustered and lose focus? Did they handle the disruption gracefully, as you’d want them to in front of a client or colleague?
While the physical queues from an in-person interview are lost, there is a certain intimacy that screens can facilitate. Focus less on the need to be in the same physical room and more on taking advantage of the “face to face” benefits of the interview screen.
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