With the vast majority of people who can work from home now doing so, the hiring process at many companies has gone virtual. With a little extra coordination, onsite interviews are taking place via video conferencing and there are plenty of tips about how to make the experience as seamless as possible on both ends. 

But as any hiring manager or recruiter could tell you, the in-person interview is only one piece of the hiring process. Making hiring not just remote-friendly, but on par with (or better than) an in-person experience, requires careful attention and a bit of additional effort at all stages. 

Pre-interview stage

Getting the hiring manager, recruiter, and all other relevant parties on the same page from the start is critical when you can't rely on dropping by someone's desk to give or get the latest information. 

As soon as a new role is approved, consider holding a dedicated meeting where you hash out the following:

  • Interview stages

  • Selling points of the role for passive candidates 

  • Ideal candidate profile

  • Candidate evaluation criteria

  • Salary range and target start date

  • Hiring team roles and responsibilities

Make sure to designate one person as the notetaker and ask them to distribute a Google Doc after the meeting -- that way others can make changes if necessary, and the team has a living "single source of truth" about the role.  

Regular catch-up meetings between the hiring manager and recruiter can also be helpful to schedule from the start, so there's dedicated time to reflect on learnings and communicate changes as the search progresses.  

Interview stage

Besides ensuring all onsite interviews are swapped with video links, here are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when candidates are going through the interview process.

First, figure out the "phone screen." It can be hard to differentiate between the "phone screen" and "onsite" stages when they're both taking place remotely. It's fine for phone screens to continue to be voice calls, moved to video, or skipped entirely -- just make sure that whatever option you choose is clearly communicated to all parties (hiring managers, recruiters, and most importantly, candidates), and that the same format is used for each candidate to mitigate bias. 

Next, overcommunicate in your applicant tracking system (ATS). Make it a best practice for both recruiters and hiring managers to put all communication about candidates in the ATS instead of or in addition to one-off Slacks, emails, or Zooms. This way, there's less chance of misalignment or critical information falling through the cracks. 

Then, offer a virtual office tour. The physical office space often factors into candidates' decisions. In lieu of an office visit, put together a video office tour and share with the candidate before their "onsite" interview.  

Of course, be sure to train interviewers. Conducting a virtual interview can be anxiety-provoking even for seasoned interviewers. Offer training for interviewers about the logistics and rules of thumb for virtual interviews -- while also assuring them that it's largely still just a normal conversation. 

Also be sure to test your technology. The free version of Zoom has a 40-minute limit for meetings with three or more participants, and a host can only have a single meeting running at once. There are inevitably similar limits and loopholes with any technology -- make sure you take tools for a test drive first to be able to prevent potholes later. 

Next, start a "handoff" Slack room. One of the hiring managers at Lola.com started a Slack room where each interviewer let the subsequent interviewer know when they were off the Zoom and the next person was good to join. This enabled seamless transitions between interviewers, and a positive candidate experience. 

And finally, seek feedback. Create a survey or schedule a 15-minute debrief with each candidate to ask about their experience and where improvements could be made. 

Post-interview stage 

Having a deliberate debrief process is best practice regardless of whether hiring is in-person or remote, but becomes even more important when everyone is virtual. 

After a candidate interviews, will the recruiter and hiring manager have a call to discuss next steps? Should the entire interview panel debrief? Should the hiring manager just extend offers or rejections directly? Again, any process works as long as it's consistent among all candidates and understood by everyone involved. 

Written feedback about candidates -- whether captured in a scorecard or someone else -- also becomes crucial in a remote scenario. Put together a quick guide or training on how to record feedback effectively, and hold interviewers accountable for completed scorecards.  

Even when workers return to the office and candidates can visit in person once again, these tips will help your team get and stay aligned, and deliver an excellent candidate experience every time.