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Hiring the Right Person without an In-Person Interview

Hiring the Right Person without an In-Person Interview

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management, American Public University

Why is hiring candidates without actually interviewing them in person a trend now?

For one, the labor market is tight. Employers are having a difficult time finding qualified candidates.

They are also hiring via online means due to location restrictions. So if you are trying to apply for a position across the country, some employers will screen you virtually instead of making you fly out to them.

To stay ahead of the competition, employers have to quickly find the best candidates. Part of that process is to remove some of the red tape that has plagued interviewing cycles in the past.

How Job Candidates Feel about the Lack of a Personal Interview

The verdict on hiring without a personal interview is mixed. Some of the negative opinions from interviewees include:

  • A lack of comfort in accepting a position without seeing a hiring manager. I can understand how this issue can be a concern. Some statistics show that most employees leave a company due to their relationship with management. Therefore, a good union is critical for many employees and is a chief reason why some resign.
  • Fears that the job is not legitimate. Without actually meeting a hiring official, a candidate might have concerns about what is not being shown.
  • The idea that the company is trying to weed out certain individuals or groups from the applicant pool. Unfortunately, there are still companies that seek to eliminate individuals due to traits not related to the position. In fact, some candidates feel as though they are victims of ageism, sexism or racism.

How Hiring without an In-Person Interview Can Be Successfully Accomplished

Going through a rigorous on-site hiring process does not always guarantee success. If a company wants to make potential hires jump through hoops by meeting with various individuals, why not have some of the interviews take place remotely?

I have hired individuals through phone interviews who have been successful on the job. How can it work? Like online teaching, I do not do anything differently in both instances. I make sure I am prepared and I follow these steps:

  • Review the application/resume thoroughly before the interview. Many candidates complain about hiring managers and HR personnel asking for information that is already on their submissions. It gives the impression that the submitted material was not read.
  • Know what you are looking for and determine which qualities are necessary versus those that are just desired. Be prepared to discuss with candidates precisely what you are seeking.
  • Ask questions that are relevant to the position. Some hiring teams believe that a list of generic questions can be used for all candidates. You can achieve the same goal by developing customized questions that will elicit specific information on how well each candidate will do in the vacant position.
  • Make sure all participants in the hiring process are prepared for the interview and not assigned the interview at the last moment. Know who should ask certain questions and why that individual was selected. Meet before the interview to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page.

Regardless of the job level, some or all of the hiring process can be completed by phone or by Skype if the hiring participants are adequately prepared and trained. After all, we have adopted technology for many services (i.e., online learning) that once could only be completed by person-to-person interaction. The only difference is the way the interview is conducted.

Hiring departments should invest the time to ensure that they have the proper procedures in place for all participants to follow. If the hiring staff has the necessary tools to be successful, companies should be able to determine which candidates would be the appropriate fit for vacant positions.

Be Sure to Anticipate What Job Candidates Will Want to Know in Interviews

In addition to making sure that company representatives are prepared, it is equally important to anticipate the candidates’ questions and concerns because some of them might not be comfortable with the format. The question then becomes what would be the best way to make them feel at ease? One way would be to start with an icebreaker question that is of interest to them before beginning the actual interview questions.

Also, it is essential to be prepared to fulfill some candidates’ requests. For example, a candidate might want a face-to-face meeting with the actual hiring manager or to see the physical layout of the workplace.

If the person is a serious contender for the job, why not honor the request? It becomes an opportunity for two people to meet to see if there is a connection.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a systematic approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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