A remote interview may place a technological barrier between the interviewer and the candidate, and employers may not be able to pick up on certain things such as body language, that are apparent during face-to-face meetings. As such, it is key to avoid forming stereotypes and jumping to conclusions, experts from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) advise. 

Organisations have had to adjust their hiring process during this period of working from home and social distancing, with face-to-face interviews shifting to remote interviews, mainly conducted over the phone or via a video conferencing platform.

Regardless, the ability to conduct a fair job interview remains crucial and hiring managers and employers are expected to abide by the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. [Refer to TAFEP’s website for a comprehensive list of recommendations as a guide.] 

While much of the preparation for the interview will be the same as if you were interviewing in person, there are some additional considerations to ensure the remote interviews are fair.

Here are some ways to ensure a level playing field and mitigate the impact of a technological barrier.

Accommodate possible technological disruptions

A technological disadvantage could arise as not all applicants are technology-savvy or own modern laptops featuring reliable webcams. Do not assume that all candidates are familiar with and comfortable with a remote interview – video interviews can be stressful for some candidates who are not comfortable with using technology and/or being on camera and feel self-conscious. Moreover, they may not have a disturbance-free environment that is ideal for interviews.

Technical issues should not impact the outcome of the interview. Ensure that all candidates receive comprehensive instructions on how to set the interview up at their end and provide them ample time to do so. During the interview, make sure that every candidate has the same amount of time and freedom to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and experience. This takes into account the time spent managing any technical issues that may arise.

As this may be a new process for many, communicate any expectations early and any new processes that the candidate should follow. Doing this provides all candidates with a fair opportunity to put their best foot forward.

If your interview process typically includes a task-oriented test to assess the skills and abilities of the candidate, find a way around this by assessing these same abilities remotely, for example through a role play.

Avoid forming stereotypes and jumping to conclusions

A remote interview may place a technological barrier between the interviewer and the candidate, and employers may not be able to pick up on certain things that are apparent during face-to-face meetings. For example, not being able to shake the applicant’s hand or get a full sense of his or her body language can potentially create a tendency to judge a candidate by his or her appearance or surroundings. It may also lead one to eliminate the candidate prematurely due to the lack of personal connection and direct eye contact that are present during an in-person interview.

In such situations, the importance of creating a fair hiring environment is amplified. Ensure you have a list of job-related selection criteria that is applied consistently for all candidates, and interview questions that are directly related to the selection criteria. To make a fair assessment, the interviewer should also understand the skills, knowledge and characteristics required for the job role.

While hiring remotely will be a very different experience from hiring in person, it is your responsibility to ensure that all candidates are provided with a fair interview. As remote working becomes a norm, the move to a remote hiring process will become increasingly common. Companies will need to embrace this digital way of working in order to meet their hiring needs.

TAFEP provides information and resources to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit tafep.sg to find out more.


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