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In the last few years, remote work has steadily been on the rise. In this quickly changing world, working from home (also know as WFH) is a very real part of our lives. Due to COVID-19, conducting remote technical interviews has become the standard.

Embracing the work from anywhere movement is only part of the battle, your company will need to evaluate all of their tech hiring processes at every stage. From sourcing candidates for positions, conducting interviews and assessing their remote employability. Candidates will need to be provided with clear expectations and instructions, alongside removing any unnecessary barriers between the company and the interviewee. 

There’s no clear cut way to conduct remote tech interviews, for many companies, it will take some trial and error to figure out a style that works. With that in mind, there is still a certain structure and a few strategies that you can implement to make remote interviews more efficient. 

Get Clear on What You’re Hiring For in a Remote Technical Interview

First things first, it’s important to get clear on who you’re hiring and what essential part they will play in the remote team. Having a custom decision-making matrix for remote candidates is a great way to make sure that you’re making good hiring decisions. 

Creating an internal scorecard helps you to get clear on what you’re hiring employees for. For each candidate, make a note of each point for that particular role:

  • Main responsibilities
  • Key performance indicators and how to track them
  • The outcomes for the first three months and over a period of a year
  • Core traits and competencies

You can use this scoring system to assess the candidate’s performance for a virtual position, then use the scores to create a job description and remote tech interview process. 

It’s essential that you tie in your company’s mission into the interview process. To create a company culture that remote employees embody, it needs to be incorporated into your hiring process. 

Those additional elements could include: 

  • Strong leadership
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Strong technical knowledge and cognitive ability
  • Clear and consistent communication

Improving the Candidate Experience for a Remote Tech Interview

Hiring for remote positions is a unique experience, especially when you compare that to hiring in person for in-house positions. Fifty-seven percent of job seekers lose interest when recruitment processes are lengthy. That gives you a great opportunity to tailor your remote recruitment experience to make it simple and engaging for your candidate. 

To tailor the experience further, follow a structured plan to maintain consistency across all of your remote tech interviews with different candidates. One key element of this plan should be communicating expectations and the details of the interview clearly. 

What the candidate should know ahead of time

If your company is transitioning into a remote-first structure, it’s likely that you’re using new tools that the candidate may not have. It’s essential to keep the candidate informed about:

  • Who the interview will take place with
  • If the candidate should prepare anything for the interview
  • And if you’re not yet using  CodeLive — our answer to running remote tech interviews on the fly, then you’ll need to answer:
    • Will the interview be conducted via audio or will it be a video conference
    • Will the candidate need to share their screen with you
    • Does the candidate need additional tools and platforms and will they need to download them prior to the interview

To keep the interview fair, it’s important not to blindside candidates prior to the interview. By surprising a candidate, the only KPI you can measure is how they respond to being blindsided. It’s your responsibility to make sure that all communication with the candidate helps them to prepare for the remote technical interview, especially if the position is one that’s normally performed in-house. 

Adapting to Remote Tech Interviews

Traditional interviews may involve a phone interview, followed by a face to face to meet the candidate in person. 

Transitioning your interviewing process to the medium will be a process, you can make it more seamless by adjusting certain elements. 

Use Video to Build Trust

According to Gallup, great leaders need to show compassion, provide stability and hope but most importantly build trust. 

A friendly approach helps to build trust quickly when conducting remote tech interviews. The interview should start by opening the interview by introducing themselves in a friendly manner, followed by an overview of the interview process. Video conferencing works in your favor to observe body language, gestures and facial expressions. Creating a connection through video can be more difficult than in-person, which means you should slightly exaggerate your facial expressions to make your smiles and emotions more pronounced. 

Important note: use signals of affirmation like nodding in agreement, a thumbs up or clearly stating that you understand. 

Keep up the Pace

It’s unproductive to allow remote candidates to veer off-topic or go down a rabbit hole trying to answer a question when you’re not following. The division that a screen provides can make it difficult for candidates to realize they’re diverting off-course.

It’s your responsibility as the interviewer to keep the interview moving forward without being abrupt or dismissive. Use positive body language and a smile to interrupt the candidate and bring the interview back on track. 

Technology Limitations

Slow computers and poor internet connections can be a nightmare during remote technical interviews. This only makes candidates more nervous and stressed when trying to prove their worth and skill set to the company. On CodeLive, you have a built in connectivity checker so you can quickly resolve issues and get back online. 

Make Decisions Based on Evidence

Evaluating a candidate for a remote role requires an assessment of their skills. CodeLive is the place to do this.

  • You can start pair programming freely based on code you copy and paste in Whiteboard Mode.
  • Or start from a pre-set list of technical problems in Template Mode.
  • Report Mode lets you start with the candidate’s submitted CodeCheck code from their screening test, leading to deeper conversations around code optimization.
  • And our latest Canvas Mode allows both interviewer and candidate to draw diagrams together and build complex flow diagrams. 

Practice Makes Perfect

Remote tech interviewing is new for many companies and the employees that they’re hiring. Planning is essential, establishing the roles that your virtual team needs to make it function as an in-house team, if not better. Furthermore, processes need to be tweaked from in-person interviews to account for the new medium.

Remote interviewing allows you to acquire talent from a global pool. Widening a talent funnel is a huge benefit but also requires more patience, planning and accommodating candidates from different time zones.

For more about going remote – check out our Guide to Taking Hiring Remote-First.

John Bailey is VP Product at Codility.