An advantage of remote interviews

There have been plenty of articles and comments about the (dis)advantages of home office vs in-office scenarios over the past two years. One critical aspect of home-office is definitely about creating a personal relationship with people that you never meet in person.

One situation where a personal relationship is quite important is an interview with candidates (be it internal or external). Besides the technical expertise you also want to know whether or not the candidate is a fit for the team. In the past 2+ years, we interviewed dozens of people for positions in the team. I say “we” because we usually are 2-3 internals holding different positions in the team (dev, ops, product owner, …) interviewing the new candidate. And in the past 2+ years we did all those interviews remotely via video-conferencing.

It took me 2 years until I realized remote interviews have another advantage.

just me

For me, it was never a question whether we do the interviews remotely or not as the situation didn’t offer any alternative. I also never complained about not meeting the person well … in-person. Of course, it would have been very nice to meet new people directly – just to feel the personal vibes. But the obvious advantage to easily interview people independent from their physical location is not the only one. It took me two years until I realized remote interviews have another advantage: There is no seating order / seating arrangement!

Imagine the last interview-situation with one candidate and 2+ interviewers. As soon as it is not a 1 to 1 interview anymore it quickly feels like a tribunal. Worst situation: a rectangular table with the interviewers on one side and the candidate on the other. Multiple 1-to-1-interiews might be more comfortable. But it is also interesting for the candidate to see the way how the interviewers interact with each other. And sometimes someone from HR just wants to attend.

So, what is the advantage of doing an Interview remotely via video conferencing? Well – it totally removes the seating / placement! What does that mean? Now all members in the situation are equally distributed. An “observer” (HR) can / should(!) turn off the camera and hide from the conversation. Depending on the software (s)he can also focus on certain people during the conversation. Last but not least – and maybe most important: The interviewer is in his/her own chosen safe place and has control over the situation. Ways more control than in a classical interview situation.

And – from my experience – it helps the candidate relax. And you want to experience a relaxed candidate in order to be able to meaningfully assess whether he or she fits into the team or not. Also, a relaxed candidate will surely perform more authentic and honest.

In the end I’m glad I realized this advantage of remote interviews!