Recruiting remotely – can it work?

10 tips for successful remote recruitment.

Late in 2014, after 18 years of working internationally, my husband and I decided one of us needed to think about heading home to New Zealand, given aging parents.

I thought that, given my New Zealand and international experience as a chief executive of IT, marketing, sales, and training companies, I’d have the greatest chance of finding interest. But, after approaching a few of the larger agencies in New Zealand, it became clear that I that I needed to be here and not approaching from Europe.

From the agencies that bothered to reply, I learned that potential clients would insist on meeting in person (not via Skype, and not just for the final interview). I was surprised by this. New Zealand is remote from many of the larger contractor/employment bases and we are known for our innovation and adaptability, yet apparently few use modern technologies to recruit.

While in the US and Europe, I successfully recruited remotely for personnel around the world for many years. Certainly, there are definite advantages to actually meeting a person, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker anymore.

I managed to get an interview through an agency and I was encouraged when the client was happy to interview me over Skype.

With the 12-hour time difference, I made sure I was awake and ready for the interview. Unfortunately, the client wasn’t so well prepared. They hadn’t tested the system earlier and ended up having bandwidth issues with using two-way video on Skype. So the interview was conducted using one-way video to stabilise the connection, which was not ideal.

While I found the humour in the situation at the time, the client should have been prepared and treated it like any interview situation. If the contractor is expected to turn up on time and be prepared, then so should the employing company, regardless of the environment in which the interview takes place.

Recruiting and interviewing remotely can work really well if you prepare and understand how to accommodate the fact that you are not in the same room. This is both a skill-set and a process if you want to find the best talent for your organisation here or overseas. Here are some tips that you can apply to ensure a really effective interview process.

10 tips for successful remote recruitment

  1. Make a conscious decision. Can you and your process adapt to a remote interview situation? If so, how will you manage this? If you are looking for a remotely-based worker, a remote interview process may give you a good indication of how you might ultimately work with them.

  1. If using a recruitment agency, advise the agency that you are open to remote interview processes (and to what stage). Choose an agency that guarantees to respond to all applicants personally. It is important that they reflect your company's attitude and your value of people.

  1. Decide if just a telephone conversation will do or if you must see the applicant in person or via video conference.  Do not make this a one-way experience. If you have the opportunity to see the interviewee, make sure they can see you.

  1. Define the technology required for the process and advise the candidate. Ensure yourself that the technology is in place and working for a remote interview – before the interview is scheduled to commence.

  1. Remember and accommodate time differences, both for yourself and the applicant.

  1. Show the same courtesy to your remote applicant as you would to one in an in-person process. Be on-time, be prepared, and have skilled people on your panel who can effectively interact with people presenting remotely - people who can pick-up body language and reactions via the likes of video conferencing.

  1. Craft questions that test the functional and the remote working skills of the applicant. This may mean there are additional questions for the remote person.

  1. Adapt any tasks that you require of a local applicant post first interview to also be required and do-able by your remote applicant.

  1. We do not challenge the “it is better in person” concept (for either party) but if/when that is not possible/practical, can you arrange a compromise whereby the applicant is in a location with some of your trusted people on the other end?

  1. Do have the courtesy to follow up after the interview. This is really important but even more so when you have connected remotely. Business is all about relationships, manners and how you treat people. Ensure your remote practices reflect your company's values, and that your business does not get negative social media exposure as a result.

This is far from an exhaustive list – merely an overview of considerations for interviewing remote applicants.

Annette Dow of training company Binary Resource is running series of seminars and workshops in city centres around New Zealand from February to May on “Building & Maintaining your Remotely-based Work Environment and Teams” and “The Long Distance Manager” and “The Remote Worker”

To find out more visit

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