Top Tips for Interviewing Candidates Remotely

Top Tips for Interviewing Candidates Remotely

COVID-19 has caused a major shift in the working landscape, causing thousands of employees to work from home. Indeed, businesses have embraced a flexible working life to encourage a smooth transition to full-time remote working. 

With this being said, the function of businesses needs to reconvene as usual. Businesses still need to interview and onboard candidates. Although, for the safety of both candidates and employees, this will be done remotely.

Besides getting over a few technical glitches and frozen faces on video conferencing calls, businesses need to consider how they can appropriately interview candidates in the most effective and efficient way. Whether it’s establishing clear communication channels, being extra prepared for the interviews or keeping in close contact with candidates throughout the remote interview stages, there’s a few things businesses should implement when interviewing remotely. To help, we have compiled a list of the top tips for remote interviews.

Establish appropriate communication channels 

When interviewing candidates face-to-face, employees will be able to quickly gauge the individual’s personality based on first impressions. Unfortunately, remote interviews can form a barrier and prevent companies from gaining an understanding as to whether this candidate is desirable for the job role itself. Social cues such as body language and facial expressions are hindered during remote interviews, which can typically make or break a candidate under normal face-to-face interviews, making the remote hiring process that bit more difficult to narrow down.

Consequently, establishing a clear line of communication is integral for a successful remote interview. A company should consider the different types of remote tools they should use to hire candidates at the different interview stages. For example, a phone interview could be a great hiring communication tool at the first stage, to quickly narrow the candidate pool down. For the later stages of the interviewing process, technological tools that facilitate video conferences with multiple people may be your best option. Platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft teams are useful for this, as you will be able to see the candidates facial expressions and hand gestures as well as having a few members of your team on the call too to help interview the candidate. 

Wondering how to conduct a remote interview?

Be prepared and plan your interview meticulously

As with anything, planning is key to a successful interview. Structuring your interview with the main objective and key questions is important for remote interviews. Not being able to see the candidates and freely speak to them in an unscripted and naturalistic way can be hard for both college and candidates alike. Consequently, having a template of questions to ask can ensure that the conversation runs smoothly and avoids awkward delays, whilst still being able to assess whether the individual has the necessary skillset and experience to fill the job role. 

Top tip: start with the more simple and friendly questions to allow the candidate to open up and feel at ease. This will allow you to establish a rapport and bridge that gap that is prototypical of remote interviewing. 

At this stage, it is also really important to be prepared with who you want in the interview too. Now that you have to onboard remotely, you have to be selective about who can join the call/ meeting with you. It’s no longer the case that one of your colleagues joins mid-interview. Most platforms facilitate 4 people max (unless you pay for pro), so pick the best colleagues based on the job role. 

In light of this, the interview team should be prepared about who is asking what questions and in what order. It can be very easy to talk over one another when on conference lines, which can cause confusion and disrupt the flow of communication. Make sure you all have a structure and attempt to stick to it as much as possible. Obviously, there will be deviations, but having a structure in place can help facilitate a smooth remote interview process. 

Keep in contact with your candidates 

Working, interviewing, or even living remotely has its challenges. It can be very isolating (pardon the pun) to be stuck at home. This is only exacerbated by the current job market, which carries with it much uncertainty for candidates. 

Consequently, it is important for you as an employer to stay in contact with your candidates and update them about the interviewing process. Let them know when they should expect a callback, or when the next stage of the interviews will be held. Keeping them in the dark can sometimes cause more damage than necessary, planting a seed of doubt in their minds – a damaging proposition if that candidate was someone you really liked! 

Be communicative and provide feedback. If there is a delay for any reason, check in with your candidate to let them know you are interested but need some more time and give them a realistic time frame.

Top tips for on boarding new starters remotely

Top tips for on boarding new starters remotely

Be prepared


In light of this, it may be useful to create a pre-onboarding process for your new starter, presenting them with a digital welcome package that can be easily circulated via email or host on a shared digital drive. Do this a few weeks before they are due to start. This may seem self-explanatory, however, there is a large proportion of companies that do not have these facilities in place. While 63% of employers have staff working remotely due to COVID-19, only 43% have remote company policies in place. In order to facilitate the changing work landscape, you should prioritize creating one. 

The welcome packages should cover your companies policies and guidelines, so they know what is expected from them within their new role, allowing them to digest key information about your business. You should also set out an itinerary for them for the first few weeks, with each day broken down and structured into morning and afternoon tasks. 

The welcome packages should also contain a main point of contact. If your company facilitates a ‘work buddy’ or mentoring process, make sure to include this within the welcome package too, so that they can reach out to the prospective person prior to starting. 

The pre-onboarding stage is also a key opportunity to ensure all the tech requirements are in place. If the employee requires a work laptop, phone or various office equipment, make sure to send this over with ample time to set up their remote workplace. Given the nature of the government guidelines concerning COVID-19, deliveries may take longer than usual, so preparing in advance safeguards you from delayed delivery slots. 



Set up all the necessary technology 

Once the pre-onboarding process is complete, it is essential that your new starter has the necessary technological requirements expected to do the job role itself. 

A desk, chair and computer is a prerequisite for most office employees when they join a new company. However, those candidates working remotely may not have this in their home. The pre-onboarding process should clarify what the new starter has and doesn’t have, which is then the responsibility of the employer to complete an ergonomic check and accommodate their technological needs. 

It may be useful to set a budget for each remote worker when setting up a new home office. Present them with a list of office essentials.

Additionally, if you have a dedicated software specific to your company, make sure the candidate has access to a person who can set this up for them, as well as assist them in navigating the software. This can be organised as a set of meetings or in the shape of a dedicated online portal. Zoom / ringcentral or Microsoft team meetings are useful platforms to do this, as they have a function where you can share your desktop screen. It’s also free, saving your company money! 


Set up an onboarding buddy/ mentor 

As aforementioned, if your company facilitates a ‘mentoring’ style of learning, then this can be an extremely useful way of onboarding a client remotely. In addition to providing extensive knowledge of the company, mentors can assist in facilitating the integration of a new starter within the company. They can act as a first-line of communication and can help with providing answers to the new employees’ questions. 

Unlike office culture, working from home can be lonely and in some cases (pardon the pun) an isolating experience. A work buddy / mentor can act as that friendly face and help the new starter be immersed within the business culture. 


Set up a clear line of communication 

By now, for those employees working remotely, your company will have established a line of communication to keep each worker connected. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been integral platforms for a number of businesses to stay in touch and maintain usual business practice expected within the usual office environment. 

While a new starter should have received a  number of a specific person (i.e., HR manager) to contact during the onboarding process, other means of communication with a range of individuals within the company should be provided too. Setting up video conference calls with key members of the business is a priority during the onboarding process, as a way of decreasing any feelings of isolation. This will also help them understand the company ethos and gain a better feel of the company – understanding their brand values and how their role fits into the wider business strategies. They can also help build relationships with colleagues during various skype / zoom / microsoft teams conference calls. 

It is always good business practice to schedule check ins with the new starter on a regular basis. A tip would be to get a member of the team / manager / buddy to pencil time aside to communicate with the employees, to ensure they are clear on the tasks at hand. This also provides a perfect opportunity to assign tasks and give feedback on the work the new starter has completed. 


Make a memorable and lasting first impression as a business 

While it is essential that an employee makes a great first impression, it is just as important for this to be reciprocated by the company.  Indeed, 11 percent of individuals have changed their minds on a job role after being onboarded. Sending a warm welcome is essential to encourage and motivate your employers that they have made the right decision working for your company. Let them know how excited you are for them to join the company and reinforce this with regular contact from a multitude of individuals. 


Over 17% of employees quit after their job after the first week. Therefore, it’s important to make the employee feel relaxed and at ease when joining your company

Set up training programs 

Finally, make sure you set up a training program that will facilitate remote working. 

It is important that induction training is varied to keep your new starter entertained and motivated. Endless days of compliance training, for example, will not be motivating! Ensure that your company’s employee value proposition is central to your training and do your best to bring it to life and make it relevant to the individual. 

Make your training adaptable to the remote workplace. This could involve introductory videos about your business, team diagrams and short introductions to key personnel. The top tip would be to keep it varied and entertaining – refraining from a stagnant onboarding process. 


Final thoughts…

Employers on a global scale are now seeing the huge benefits of a remote workforce. Despite the current pandemic forcing employees to stay within the confinement of their own home, it is predicted that nearly 40% of employees will continue remote work even after the pandemic is over. And we can see why! Companies are saving money exponentially on business premises and can recruit on a national scale – particularly those employees who have had previous experience working from home. They do not need to focus on candidates in the locality, as remote work facilitates onboarding on a global scale. 

However, the trick is to ensure that your company is prepared for this. Being prepared and ready for remote working is essential to the functioning of your business. Follow these tips and you will be on the right tracks to onboarding amazing talent for your workplace. This is an investment that will surely pay off!

Communication Tips for IT Professionals, Programmers, & Developers

Concise communication can help technical teams clearly relay complex information, a crucial collaborative element as the workforce shifts online.

To enhance effective communication in-house, employers across industries are increasingly seeking soft skills during the recruiting and hiring process. In the remote work era, organisations are often compartmentalised, siloed into specific departments with minimal overlap between teams, however, developers, programmers, and IT professionals routinely must collaborate across the business structure to achieve common objectives.

Effective communication requires a host of considerations including the ability to clearly and concisely relay technical information. Mastering the art of brevity in communication is a helpful way to further boost one’s soft skill set.

“Soft skills are critically important for all professionals, especially those in a supportive function. IT professionals and programmers tend to be linear thinkers and goal-focused, but also, they have their own vernacular and their own technical language, pun not intended, that may not be easily understood by the people that they’re working with or serving,” said Cheryl Dixon, communications executive and adjunct professor, Columbia University.

To learn more about ways to deliver crisp, compact language we sought advice from a number of organizations across the communications and tech sector. Here are seven tips to help technical members of the workforce streamline collaboration and boost their soft skills.

Define key terms

As teams continue to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations are leveraging a spectrum of communication tools such as Teams, SlackZoom, and more. These tools lack the richness inherent in face-to-face communication further increasing the risk of indeterminacy. That said, one of the most imperative aspects of succinct communication is reducing the risk of miscommunication.

“Define your terms. Miscommunications often occur when people think that they’re talking about the same thing, but are talking about different things. By defining your terms, it can help ensure that everybody is on the same page when they’re talking about something,” said Max Boyd, data science lead at Kaskada.

Similarly, by defining key terms, you are able to more succinctly carry on a conversation without long explanatory parentheticals peppered into discourse. Additionally, if terms are defined on Slack, for example, the end-user now also has a ledger and reference point if they need clarification down the road.

Be concise, not quick

Remember there is a difference between brevity and expeditiousness; haste may eventually require further remediation. Remember, with concise communication, each word carries tremendous weight, so make them count and consider their impact in advance. As mentioned, limited messenger platforms are prone to misinterpretations. Concise communication may require more forethought than a traditional in-person conversation.

“‘Concise’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘quick.’ Taking a little bit of extra time to read and clarify what you wrote before hitting send—and understanding your objectives—will cost you a bit of time in the short term, but will pay back large returns on investment in terms of time spent reading and talking,” Boyd said.

Ask questions

At times, concise communication functions optimally with redundancy built-in. To do so, it’s imperative to routinely check in with your audience during the conversation. Before taking the next step, first make sure everyone is one the same page. Similar to defining terms, regular inquiry and mindfulness can decrease the risk of confusion.

“Ask questions to check in for understanding. When working with IT partners, people might feel intimidated or feel foolish if they don’t understand some of the technology — so they may not ask the questions they need to. So, checking in for understanding and comprehension as you go along is going to be key,” Dixon said.

Remember to take pause

Effective communication involves active listening and planning. Rather than waiting for your turn to talk or present a set of ideas, it’s important to listen carefully, keeping in mind the ideas presented during fluid conversations. Before stating a particular point, take pause to ensure you’re approaching the next step in a way that takes into account the other person’s points, while also moving toward the common objective.

Put the audience in the picture

In the age of daily video conferences and Zoom Fatigue, it’s imperative to engage the audience. An actively involved, attentive audience is more likely to be aware of the points being discussed and retain this information moving forward. Maintaining the listener’s attention will reduce the risk of needing to backtrack later in the conversation. Illustrating the various ways in which the ideas presented will directly impact a person is an easy way to accomplish engagement.

“Humans are innately biased towards ideas and activities that have a direct impact on them,” said Patrick Ward, director of marketing at Rootstrap.

“Rather than communicating every aspect of a particular issue, a better strategy is to identify the other person’s motivations and share information that is specifically relevant to that motivation and nothing else,” Ward continued. “This is not dishonest, and the other person is not awful for not caring: It’s simply a case that humans, especially within the tech industry, have an enormous cognitive overload and therefore must prioritise what they focus their attention on at any given point in time.”

Incorporate abstract concepts and metaphors

Programming, development, and IT are hinged on discernible, duplicatable processes and strategies. While this concrete realm of standard operating procedures may not readily lend itself to the use of abstractions, the use of these devices and metaphors may help others understand complex material. The use of everyday examples can help technical teams break down complex information into more digestible portions. These concise communicative segments can illustrate a larger framework in a more approachable way.

“While a non-engineer might not understand what a SQL database is, we might still communicate salient points about the size or structure of our data by using concepts familiar to anyone who has used Excel. Similarly, we might compare full-stack feature development to the construction of a physical house, or we might compare a code review conversation to the process of editing a Google Document,” said Lusen Mendel, Karat director of Developer Relations.

Think about your communication profile

Overall, organisations are a patchwork of departments brimming with various personality types. As a result, concise communication will need to be tailored for a particular audience. The communicative equation that works for one person may not necessarily work with another.

CEO of Avantra John Appleby brought up the DISC personality assessment tool. This system looks at communication in terms of Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, and Steadiness. These tests build a communication profile of sorts, enabling enhanced collaboration between different DISC “types.”

“If you’re having a conversation with someone who demonstrates ‘C’ style communication traits, be super precise in your ask, set clear expectations and lay out the deadlines. But, remember, this doesn’t define personality. It’s simply someone’s default communication style. A comfortable exchange would be one that’s structured and backed by facts,” Appleby said.


Our expert IT recruitment consultants are here to take the pressure off you when recruiting someone new, permanent or contract. We liaise with candidates with the utmost care to ensure that their candidate experience is a positive one. Call us on 0207 788 6600 and let us help you Recruit Someone Worth Recruiting.


3 Tips for Speaking Less and Saying More

Brevity is a lost art in this age of data overload, but there are three tips you can master in order to improve your communication skills.

People are inundated with information, and their brains have reached a saturation point. If you want to get someone’s attention, you must be brief, according to Joe McCormack.

There are three tendencies that keep most people from being brief:

  1. The tendency of overexplaining
  2. The tendency of under preparing
  3. The tendency to completely miss the point

“If we can overcome those tendencies we can get to the point and we have so much to gain,” said McCormack, who is the author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less.

People spend about 8 hours a day consuming media. “By that I mean it could be television, radio, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. It’s a constant consumption of information. We’re drinking from a proverbial fire hose. So when you look at the world around you, the mind is really, really burdened,” McCormack said.

This means that people have low attention spans, and their brains are weakening because they’re consuming so much information. As a result, everyone must adapt to that and learn how to be brief, he said.

It’s possible to overcome the three tendencies that keep people from being brief. And people will hear your message if you say less. They will be able to focus on your point and the message.

Tendency #1: Over explaining

Many people overexplain. To overcome this, think about all of the things you can talk about on a topic. Trim the less essential information, and keep only the essential components.

People speak 150 words a minute, but people can process 750 words a minute. This means if your presentation isn’t on target, people’s minds have 600 leftover words floating around their brain, and typically they will start to think about other things. “You’re hearing what he’s saying but you’re thinking other things. You’re thinking ‘he’s an idiot, where did he go to school?'” McCormack said, calling those 600 words the “elusive 600.”

Tendency #2: Under preparing

“To be concise and clear, it’s a balance of being clear and concise. You can be too brief,” McCormack said, quoting the French philosopher Blaise Pascal, who said, “I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time.”

If you don’t prepare, you cannot be brief, because you don’t know what the key points are. This is useful in job interviews, for instance, when you’re asked to tell a little about yourself, and why you want to work at a company. One way to prepare is to create a mind map, which is a visible outline on paper to help organize your thoughts. Assemble your thoughts in advance and be prepared, he said.

Tendency #3: Completely missing the point

“You’re at work, and it’s late in the afternoon, and somebody knocks on your door and they say, ‘have you got a minute?’ Nobody is so busy that they don’t have a minute. And the person starts talking and talking and talking and you start thinking, ‘what is their point?’ And they don’t even know. They think the more they talk the point will emerge. At some point your elusive 600 occurs and you get annoyed,” he said.

“That point is a headline,” he said. “Think and speak in headlines.”

If the same person had walked into the room and said, “the project that I’m working on, it’s behind schedule but I have a fix for it,” then the person listening would pay more attention and actually hear the trimmed down version of the information,” he said.

It’s essential to start your communication, whether it’s an email, a conversation, a speech or a meeting, with a headline. Sum up the topic concisely. If it’s an email, don’t write “update” in the subject line. Put the headline in the subject line, he said.

McCormack’s 3 suggestions

McCormack offered three suggestions to improve brevity:

  1. Map your message first
  2. Lead with a headline
  3. Trim away excess detail

“If I say 150 words a minute, and you can hear 750 words a minute, the less I say, the more you hear. The more you say, the less they’re going to hear,” he said.


Our expert IT recruitment consultants are here to take the pressure off you when recruiting someone new, permanent or contract. We liaise with candidates with the utmost care to ensure that their candidate experience is a positive one. Call us on 0207 788 6600 and let us help you Recruit Someone Worth Recruiting.


Top 3 IT Manager Interview Questions

Top 3 IT Manager Interview Questions

IT Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Want to learn the most essential IT Manager interview questions? This article aims to give you an overview of what the IT manager role entails and what you should be asking candidates when applying to become one, in order to assess whether they are the right fit for your company. Equally, if you are wanting to become an IT manager, this article gives insight into the types of questions will be asked during the interview process.   

What is an IT manager? 

IT teams are no longer workers consigned out of sight, out of mind in a company’s lower floors. Technology has taken over and assumed a greater part in the business world and as such, IT workers are now more important than ever. This has placed a greater responsibility on their leaders – the IT manager.

Not only do they IT managers have to ensure they’re capable of fixing a wide variety of tech problems, but they must also make sure the same is true of their team. This is not just fixing phones and laptops, it’s upgrading software, connecting whole departments to apps like  Microsoft Teams, making sure they can connect with international clients and partners. This is just a tiny segment of what’s now involved within the job role. 

Given the huge responsibility placed on the IT managers themselves, it is now more important than ever that when businesses hire candidates for the job role, they assess whether the individual has the exact skill set required of an IT manager. In order to assist businesses with the recruitment process, we have collated a top 3 list of interview questions to ask IT managers. 

  1. Explain the steps for recommending new software for an organisation as an IT manager

This is a very important IT manager interview question.

An IT manager conducts reviews of the current software used by an organisation and how it’s used. 

They are also responsible for coordinating, planning and leading computer-related activities in an organisation. They help determine the IT needs of an organisation and are responsible for implementing computer systems to fulfil the organisations information systems requirements. 

Consequently, this question is extremely important for businesses who are interviewing a new IT manager to assess their experience in evaluating IT systems and services, their understanding of when upgrades or changes are feasible and their commitment to staying abreast of the latest business software. 

2. Why is it important to create a training program for staff when new systems are integrated? 

As aforementioned, IT managers work in close proximity to IT teams who develop new systems and software. Each service or system requires a training program for their staff members that shows them how to use the new technology correctly. 

The prime motivator for employee training is to improve productivity and performance. It is extremely advantageous from an employers perspective to provide employers with the expertise they need to fulfil their role and make a positive impact on your business to help the company avoid delays in service and save time. You can also track the training your employees have taken, which, through insightful reports, you know if your employees are up to date with their training regimes. 

For this question, employers have the ability to acknowledge a candidate’s experience designing training programs for new systems as well as their aptness to coordinate with clients to train employees. An IT manager should be comfortable with setting up training programs and regimes, regardless of the size. They should also understand the vast benefits associated with said training from a company perspective – highlighting any internal weaknesses, consistency within the teams as well as a positive team dynamic – all of which translate into productive and efficient output. 

3. How did you allocate budgets for past projects? 

This question is integral for employers when interviewing an IT manager candidate. 

A solid budget service serves as a road map for a business owner to ensure they are on track to meet their goals as they navigate through each month, quarter and year. This curbs unbridled spending – saving the company money and keeps stakeholders on the same page. 

Within their job description, it is an IT managers responsibility to review the requirements for the projects and allocate funds appropriately so they do not overspend and equally distribute money to the necessary departments for the project to function appropriately. 

An employer should analyse the candidates knowledge about defining what a project budget actually entails. They should reflect on their experiences dealing with budget allocation – providing specific examples backed with sufficient justification as to why they managed the budget in this manner. It is important that the ideal candidate shows efficiency at answering how they manage budgets in line with the budgetary constraints in place, otherwise they could cost the company money and time! 

For more information regarding IT managers, view our job searchers now. Our updated salary guide also highlights their current average salary across the country for August.