Hiring International Candidates: Virtual Interview Best Practices
Leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve are increasingly looking to the global talent pool for the best people to beef up their teams. This means a sharp increase in conducting job interviews virtually.
Even though it’s becoming more common, virtual interviews can still be intimidating for all parties. But once you get past that initial discomfort, assessing candidates can be done accurately even over the internet. Let’s dive into the best practices for the interviewer side of a virtual interview, including setup, questions to ask, and how to vet them.
Get your setup in order
There are plenty of articles out there teaching candidates how to ace their remote interviews. The meat of the advice is to exude professionalism. Interviewers should do the same: conduct interviews in a quiet environment without distracting background noise, look decent, and make sure you have a solid internet connection.
Use the same platform for all candidate interviews, and make sure it has recording capabilities if you want to review the interviews later. If you’re recording the interview, make sure you do so with the candidate’s explicit permission, of course.
Some of our favorite tools for conducting online interviews
Regularly test your software to make sure it’s functioning well and makes it easy for candidates to show up. Test your setup hours in advance and check your sound, internet connection, and video quality.
If you jump into a call without testing everything, you risk causing delays that will either cut the interview short or make it run over time. Either way, you’re looking at some extra stress and further delays down the line.
Pay attention to communication skills—both theirs and yours
As you virtually interact with your international candidate, pay attention to how they respond to requests, how well they communicate their needs, and the kinds of questions they ask. These factors indicate how well the candidate will communicate with your team in person.
When it comes to virtual interviews, video is a must. Since you can’t meet in person, video allows you to make eye contact with your candidates and see their expressions when asking and answering questions.
While you’re at it, keep an eye on your own communication skills too. In a word, be someone they enjoy talking to. The candidate is assessing you and your company as much as you’re assessing them, after all.
When you’re interviewing international candidates, language barriers are almost certainly going to crop up. Speak clearly and concisely to make sure you're making yourself understood.
Ask the right questions
As with an in-person interview, you must choose the right questions to get proper insight about how your candidates work. Here are some questions you should ask to reveal the best candidates for your team.
Interview questions that reveal who candidates are
These interview questions will help you discover who the candidate is and what they value. They’re great for evaluating behaviors, self-awareness, desire to learn, and other things.
- Name three people whose careers you have impacted positively and briefly explain how you helped them advance.
- How would someone who doesn’t like you describe you?
- What would you like to learn in the next stage of your career?
Find out how candidates work with these interview questions
Some interview questions are particularly good at offering insight into work habits, whether candidates take initiative, how they handle conflict, and how they operate in teams. Your candidates’ answers will give you key information about how well their working habits will fit into your company.
- Tell me about an independent project you completed, or a task you took the lead on.
- When is the last time you experienced a misunderstanding at work? How did you resolve it?
- Do you prefer to work closely with a team or autonomously?
- How do you best communicate with your colleagues?
- What collaboration/project management/productivity tools do you use?
- How do you ensure you hit deadlines?
- What’s the most useful feedback you ever received? How did you implement/react to it?
- What kind of environment do you thrive in?
- Walk me through your perfect workday.
- What do you value most in a manager?
Questions about their expectations of your company
These questions focus on the candidate’s role in your company, and how well your ideals align. Since you’re recruiting someone internationally, it’s important to iron out expectations before they step into your office and all the relocation expenses have been paid.
- Why do you want to work here?
- What is the first problem you expect to have in this job?
- Are you willing to travel for work? How often and how far?
- How would you react to an emergency outside of your regular working hours?
Give candidates a test task
A paid test task is a great way to see how the candidate interacts with your team on a project. You’ll be able to observe communication skills, teamwork, time management, and other key behaviors such as whether they ask for help when they need it or not.
Be sure the task is useful for your business, but not vital. For example, ask someone how they would fix a bug or add a new feature, but don’t give them access to your live database or put them on a time-sensitive fix.
It’s always important that you give your candidates a realistic and honest view of what their life would be like at your company. But with international candidates, this becomes an absolute necessity.
Of course, there’s a slight catch. People with a genuinely realistic idea of what the job is like—the good stuff and the bad—are more likely to reject your job offer. But they’re also more likely to stick around if they do accept because their expectations will be aligned with reality. So realistic job previews = better retention.
Bring them to meet the team in person
This isn’t always an option for interviewing an international candidate, but it could be a good move for your team depending on time and budget. Bringing someone to meet your team in person is useful, but if you’ve gone through all the steps above, you should already have a good idea of how well the candidate would do in the role.
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