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Coronavirus is spurring remote hiring. Here's how to nail your job interview from afar


As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip economies across the globe, few industries have been left untouched by the fallout, and that's having huge implications not only for the workforce but also the recruitment process. 

Some companies have moved to freeze hiring until the economic impact of the virus is made clear, but many others are continuing to recruit in a bid to prevent a business slowdown.

Indeed, in some instances the virus has sparked new demand for professions related to infectious diseases, according to jobs site Glassdoor, which has recorded a more than doubling of job postings with keywords related to coronavirus this month, particularly within the government, healthcare, biotech and pharmaceuticals. 

However, measures aimed at containing the outbreak, such as social distancing and work from home policies, have required companies to get creative with their recruitment processes, and many are turning to virtual methods, such as video conference calls. 

Tech giants Google, Amazon and Facebook, as well as recruiters PageGroup and Robert Walters, are among the global companies to announce a move to online job interviews for the duration of the outbreak. Video conferencing apps, including WeChat Work, Zoom and Slack, have risen nearly fivefold since the start of the year.

"In an effort to reduce some of the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses, companies are turning to technology to maintain business continuity during this time of uncertainty," Glassdoor's community manager, Jo Cresswell, told CNBC Make It

The move is not unprecedented. In addition to a general uptick in video interviews over recent years, thanks to advances in technology, previous periods of economic and social duress have prompted a spike in remote hiring, for instance during the 2008 global financial crisis.

"We saw rapid growth of interviewing technology during the last recession, which is why I'm not surprised we're starting to see a spike in interest from hiring teams during the coronavirus outbreak," noted Peter Baskin, chief product officer of remote recruitment platform Modern Hire.

It does, however, mark a new era for interviewers and interviewees. Many who are used to in-person interviews will have to switch to virtual screening processes for the first time and figure out new ways to best convey themselves and their companies online. 

CNBC Make It spoke to the the experts from Glassdoor and Modern Hire to find out their top tips for getting the virtual job interview right.

Advice for candidates

Test your tech — Make sure your internet connection and video conferencing program are both working well prior to your interview.

Dress appropriately — Dressing for success is no less important for remote interviews. Dress smartly, like you would for an in-person interview, and ensure your surroundings are tidy. 

Be prepared — Do your homework just as you would for any other interview, rehearsing your responses to key interview questions and preparing your own questions for the interviewer.

Be personable — Make eye-contact, smile often and generally engage with the interviewer to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role.

Remove distractions — Ensure you're fully engaged with the interviewer by removing all distractions, including your smartphone.

Follow-up — Send a follow-up note to your interviewer, thanking them for their time.

Advice for interviewers

Be prepared — Familiarize yourself and other interviewers with the candidate's resume and the job description to give the virtual interview the formality of an in-person one. Likewise, keep the candidate informed on who they'll be interviewing with so they can prepare questions of their own. And, of course, check your tech. 

Have a strategy — Think carefully about the skills and attributes you're looking for in a candidate and design questions that dig into each one.

Communicate openly — Keep candidates well-informed at each stage of the interview process. Without being able to give them a warm, in-person reception, it's especially important to show them their time and efforts are valued.

Remove distractions — Be respectful to the candidate and position yourself away from distractions, including your smartphone, as you would in an in-person interview. 

Reinforce employer brand — Ensure interviewers at all stages of the recruitment process convey a consistent message about the company's mission and values. 

Give the candidate time — Pause to ensure the candidate is done with their response, before moving onto the next question to account for time lags and lack of usual social cues.

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