How to Interview Out-of-Area Applicants
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How to Interview Out-of-Area Applicants

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: Many of the best candidates for my open position are outside of our local area. I don’t want to overlook good talent but don’t have the budget to bring them in for an interview. Is there another option?

A: Technology can save the day! There is a growing trend for screening remote applicants: video interviews.

The typical interview process is to review resumes and select the top candidates before doing screening interviews by phone. From the phone screens, final candidates are selected to be interviewed face to face.

Well, here is where technology can make a difference. Rather than doing phone interviews, many organizations are asking candidates use their smartphones to create a short video in which they respond to four or five questions the organization provides. This method reduces the time recruiters spend on phone interviews, the video can be viewed multiple times, and multiple people can view it and share their feedback. 

Be sure your remote-interview process is fair and equitable. Let the applicant know that he or she will be considered equally to any candidate you meet face to face. 

This approach can work for both local and remote candidates. For more in-depth interviews with out-of-area applicants, you can use two-way technology platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook. There are also standalone platforms designed for this process, but they are more costly.

As in any recruitment, you need to be sure your remote-interview process is fair and equitable. Let the applicant know that he or she will be considered equally to any candidate you meet face to face.

You also need to get comfortable with the technology you’ve chosen to use. In addition to testing that it works on your network, it’s a good idea to do a dry run: Practice where you sit (you want to be positioned in the center of the screen) and where you look (at the camera). Your goal is to make the candidate comfortable, so smile and start with small talk.

Make sure you ask the same questions you ask in in-person interviews, and evaluate the applicants against the same standard. If, after your interviews are completed, one or more of the out-of-area applicants is in the final running, you may want to consider bringing them in for a final interview.

If used appropriately, technology tools can be a way to bring more talent to your organization.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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