How to prepare for a remote job interview? A talk with Weronika Cywińska, Recruitment Manager
Since last year, the word “remote” has been used in all cases, and there are signs that the trend of moving processes to the network will continue in the coming months. The current labor market situation has shown that online interviews meet both employees’ and employers’ needs, broaden the search scope, and enable involving people living in another region or country.
Weronika Cywińska, responsible for recruiting associates, supporting candidates in their career choices, and planning the entire company’s recruitment strategy, talks about the specifics of remote job interviews.
Have recruitment processes changed a lot as a result of the pandemic?
The only change was the form of the job interviews. Out of concern for candidates’ and employees’ comfort and safety, we decided to move this part of the recruitment process to the web. In job adverts for specific positions, we have placed a note that all recruitment is carried out online. It seems that the stress caused by the perspective of a job interview is lower when the candidate has the opportunity to make the connection in the comfort of their own home. A person in familiar surrounding feels safer and more at ease, which positively impacts the video interview process. We’ve had situations where a candidate for a technical position used a computer to show us the equipment in his home workshop and the 3D printer in it. People who receive an invitation to a remote interview are mostly enthusiastic about it.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when not all companies had adapted their processes to the new reality, we received a lot of positive feedback from candidates who were afraid of personal contact. In hindsight, I believe that it was the right decision to go for entirely virtual recruitment from the very beginning. This form of communication is particularly valued by candidates who live far from the cities where we have offices because it opens up new employment opportunities for them. Some people point out that after remote onboarding, they would like to be able to work from the office, which will allow them to understand the company’s operation better and get to know their team.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that we have not reduced the number of employees in our company despite this exceptional situation, but instead, we continue to employ new people.
How do you prepare for a video call and create an environment you have control over?
The comfort and wellbeing of the candidate have a significant impact on the interview. If you’re concerned that the quality of your internet connection may affect your transmission – it’s a good idea to test your connection speed before the meeting. It will also help get a better bandwidth if you turn off programs that slow down the transfer and block distracting notifications. If you have doubts about the quality of your home Wi-Fi and are worried about a broken connection, have a muted phone on hand to contact the recruiter. A smartphone can also be used as a mobile hotspot in an emergency. I have to admit that in all of last year, during which I was doing remote recruiting, I didn’t have a single incident where a technical problem disrupted the interview. There were only temporary difficulties with the camera.
Due to current realities, issues of dress code and surroundings during a broadcast are of secondary importance. The way we work and organize our day has changed. We realize that a broadcast from an apartment can be interrupted at any time by the presence of another household member or the sound of the intercom. Such situations do not affect our perception of the candidate. In times of a pandemic, the concept of empathy has taken on particular importance, and I am convinced that both partners can count on mutual understanding in this regard. We want the people applying to our company to feel comfortable and at ease when contacting us.
How are job interviews run at Apollogic?
People who receive an invitation to an interview do not get one standardized question set. Each recruitment process is different due to the type of position, required qualifications, and candidate profile. Our approach is flexible, however, the recruitment process usually takes place in two stages. After receiving CVs, I contact selected people by phone, asking about their motivation to work for our company, availability, and preferred form of cooperation. During the first telephone contact, I also verify the declared knowledge of a foreign language and the ability to communicate freely. It usually takes the form of a short, casual conversation. At this stage, I often introduce elements of behavioral interview, asking questions to check how the candidate functions in the team or how he/she copes with difficulties. At Apollogic, we expect from the candidates at least communicative knowledge of English. After such an interview, I decide to recommend a candidate to the next, last stage.
I run the interview together with the team leader of a specific team. During such a meeting, I introduce the participants to the schedule and give more details about the agenda. In the e-mail inviting to the meeting, I list who will participate in the interview and what position they hold. The last stage of the recruitment process is also an opportunity to get to know your future team leader and learn more about working in a given role and the specifics of the team’s work. During the interview, we ask about previous professional experience and acquired skills.
Technical interviewing also occurs as a part of the conversation, although there are times when we ask candidates to complete a task, whether recruiting SAP consultants or developers. In this case, we either share the screen during the video interview or send the code to figure out in the Microsoft Teams chat window. Candidates then have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills by performing the assigned task in front of us. Sometimes, before an invitation to a meeting with a team leader, we decide to send the candidate a recruitment task via e-mail, together with a request to complete it within a week and send it back to us for evaluation. I inform the person about this procedure over the phone. During the later meeting, we discuss the task, and the person responsible for the technical interview, analyzing the candidate’s work, lists its advantages, or indicates areas for improvement. At each stage of the recruitment process, we provide the applicants with feedback to appreciate their creativity or suggest what skills are worth improving.
Can candidates reapply for the same job offer after being denied?
It goes without saying that not every job interview results in a job, but everyone has an open path to apply for the same or another position once they have acquired the expected qualifications. It’s also possible to send us a CV without specifying a particular position. We have a database of candidates who have agreed to participate in future recruitments, and I very often refer to such applications looking for people who have the necessary skills at a given time. Sometimes we offer applicants cooperation in completing a given project or team support in fulfilling an assignment for a client. We do not want to lose contact with candidates who at one stage resigned from further participation in the recruitment or decided to accept a different offer. After the trial period in another company we can continue the negotiations. We’re also open to cooperate with freelancers and people with outstanding competencies who can strengthen the teams building our other brands – apoQlar, theBlue and RapidLab.
What are smart questions to ask recruiters?
During interviews, candidates often ask about the office organization, working hours, and remote working opportunities. Usually, while recruiting, I try to anticipate them and inform candidates about the position specifics. People applying to Apollogic will surely be interested in the way we introduce new employees to the company’s operations. Soon in our advertisements with offers, you will find a description of the first day at work. We want to provide candidates with such information even before they start working with us. During the video conference, the team leader tells about the team structure, ongoing projects, work dynamics, tools, and technologies used by the employee hired for this position. Of course, at each stage of the recruitment process, I encourage all candidates to ask both me and the future manager questions. We will be happy to provide more information about the possibility of taking part in a language course, IT training, and initiatives affecting the team’s development direction.
Will the current experiences permanently affect recruitment processes?
If we talk about the IT industry, I would be tempted to say that the trend for running completely remote recruitment processes will last longer on the job market. The change in approach is a response to both the preferences of candidates and the needs of employers. Remote recruitment saves valuable time associated with the need to travel to a meeting and opens up entirely new opportunities for employees to grow professionally in another city or country. What has been standard in international recruitment for years has become a new thing in our circumstances. Still, I believe that in the current reality, the industry has done very well in adapting its processes to the remote model. I think that the transformation that began last year will continue to progress.
- On 02/03/2021