Recreating the Candidate Experience through Remote Interviewing

Posted by Nikki St. Martin

As the business landscape rapidly evolves in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, insurers must also adapt their approach to hiring. While most individuals are accustomed to meeting candidates in person, shaking their hands and even conducting interviews over a shared meal, remote interviews are quickly becoming the norm. It’s essential for hiring managers and recruiters to adjust their talent strategies to successfully move forward in this unprecedented time.

Video interviewing is not a new concept. Yet, its use is soaring as companies navigate today’s business circumstances. Reuters reports business apps – such as video conferencing – have grown nearly fivefold, from 1.4 million new users in the first week of 2020 to 6.7 million new users in the first week of March. Now that travel restrictions are in place and most physical office locations are closed, companies must embrace video conferencing technology and help employees get comfortable interviewing from behind a screen.

Whether or not you and your team are accustomed to virtual hiring, there are a few best practices to make sure your remote interviews are as effective as possible.


Focus on making a connection.
One of the concerns we’ve heard around video interviewing is whether or not it can be as personal as a traditional in-person interview. In our team’s experience, video interviews enable you to interact, communicate and evaluate soft skills in similar ways, short of a handshake. Many insurers have shared that this form of interviewing is much more interactive and personally engaging than they had originally anticipated. Although you’re not meeting someone face-to-face, it’s still possible to evaluate their emotional intelligence, leadership capabilities, communication skills and more. While these are typically uncovered during in-person meetings, video interviews are capable of providing the information necessary to extend an offer.

Develop interview guidelines.
Some members of your recruiting team may already be familiar with video conferencing and remote interviews, while others may be brand new to them. Although there are likely varying levels of comfort among individuals involved in the hiring process, create a consistent set of guidelines These should include the following:

  • Log on early and provide time for any troubleshooting prior to the start of the interview. 
  • Select a quiet location with a neutral background.
  • Dress the same as you would for an in-office interview.
  • Put your computer at eye level, even if it means raising it up.
  • Look at the camera, not the computer screen, when addressing the candidate.
  • Pause after a candidate finishes answering a question – this accounts for lag time and helps avoid talking over each other.
  • Practice. Hold team calls over the video conferencing system to get comfortable with its functionality.

desk-2Convey a consistent employer brand.
Although interviews are taking place in home offices, each individual involved in the interview process should be aligned on messaging. Discuss the goals of each interview ahead of time. What are you trying to uncover? What insight are you hoping the candidate walks away with following the interview? Make sure recruiters, as well as the hiring manager and anyone else involved in the process, have reviewed the position description, as well as the candidate’s resume. While they may seem less formal, treat remote interviews the same as you would if they were held on site.

Get creative.
Focusing on the candidate experience is a bit different in today’s environment. While this may no longer mean showing them around the office or saying hello to would-be co-workers, organizations must still build excitement and help candidates see how the company and position are the right fit. Consider creating virtual office tours that provide a feel for the office space and environment. You may also want to schedule shorter back-to-back interviews where candidates can meet multiple individuals from their potential teams. As with any interview situation, maintain momentum and open lines of communication, while keeping candidates informed of next steps and timing throughout the entire process.


Set expectations.
Be as specific as possible about what onboarding will look like, especially if the candidate will start working before your team is physically back in the office. Tell candidates what they can expect as far as orientation and training, as well as how they will be positioned for success. If certain details are still being solidified, let them know. At the same time, discuss their home office set up and expectations around availability. Communication and transparency are key to making sure both parties’ needs are met.

headsetHelp ensure a successful interview.
Many candidates are not accustomed to video interviewing. Additionally, with the number of different video conferencing platforms available, it’s likely they have not used your specific system before. Make sure everyone’s time is respected by working with your IT team to put together clear instructions for joining the video conference. Consider various operating systems, download requirements and log on information. Email these instructions to candidates when scheduling their interviews.

Move forward with confidence.
A completely virtual approach to hiring may be new, yet it should not prevent your team from extending an offer to the right candidate. The industry is still experiencing a significant demand for talent and many insurers are seeing this as an opportunity to hire top candidates at a time when their competitors may be more reluctant. Through a strategic and focused approach, you’ll be able to uncover an individual’s qualities, skills and cultural fit as well as you would in a traditional interview.

This unique business climate will pass in time; however, so might the opportunity to make an ideal hire. By helping your internal team get comfortable with new systems and encouraging them to deliver a consistent message and candidate experience, you’ll be best prepared to move forward with your hiring plans.