The pandemic led many employers from all industries to rely on the remote interview process to find suitable candidates. On top of that, it is crucial to know that remote hiring isn’t going to completely disappear anytime soon either. This means that preparation for conducting online interviews is as important as it would be for a face-to-face interview. Employers within the life science, pharma and biotech industries should stay up to date with the latest remote hiring practices in order to attract top talent.
The Challenges of the Remote Interview Process
Life science employers are still dealing with pandemic-related challenges during their remote hiring process. Dr. Kuldeep Kumar Singh, the Global Head of Market Access Operations at Market Access Transformation, has extensive experience working within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. According to him, “People are more change- and risk-averse than in pre-pandemic times, so that [has] impacted prospects’ willingness to change employers.” Dr Kumar Singh says that employers hiring remotely have a smaller pool of experienced applicants.
In the life science consultancy space — specifically payer access consultancies, such as Market Access Transformation, which helps support pharmaceutical companies in getting fast and robust payer inputs for drug development — Dr. Kumar Singh says that they’ve “found it challenging to recruit senior-level, experienced professionals because they don’t want to make a move in this time of market and economic uncertainty.”
Despite the many advantages, the remote interview process comes with its own set of challenges which life science employers must be prepared to tackle. According to Dr. Kumar Singh, learning how to find and match the right candidates involves communicating the “bigger picture to the candidates — don’t talk exclusively about a specific role, but explain what the future might look like within an organization from both a business and career perspective.”
So, how can you ensure your remote interview process runs smoothly? Read on for best practices for conducting an efficient, seamless and successful remote interview for your organization to find the best candidates.
1. Pick the Right Video Conferencing Software
Choosing the right video conferencing software is the very first step towards ensuring a smooth remote interview process. The pandemic definitely increased the popularity of video conferencing software, such as:
Many new businesses emerged within the web conferencing market as well due to the demand for these remote communication tools. Most popular video conferencing software allows for basic audio and video meetings alongside features such as chat boxes, screen sharing and general recording. Some enhanced features can be integration of marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Be sure to run through the different platforms to decide which software has the best features that can assist your business. Most video conferencing tools have various types of plans, hence it is important to determine which features are necessary for your interview process.
When making a decision, think of how many people will be involved in the remote interview process. As you should know how many users need access to the software. If you are giving interviewees a pre-hire assessment as a screening process, then be aware of the features that can help make this task run efficiently. Lastly, make sure to have a mandatory technical testing procedure of the chosen video conferencing tool before the virtual interviews start. A strong internet connection to sustain the video streaming process is absolutely essential.
2. Perfect Your Remote Interview Conduct
A remote interview process should mirror an actual in-person interview. It is critical to bring the same level of punctuality, professionalism and preparation to an online interview. Both employee and employer should bring the same level of respect for each other’s time and commitment for attending the remote interview.
Treat it no differently than a normal interview because, technically, you are still having a face-to-face interaction in a business context. An employer’s professional conduct and behaviour will represent the company brand to potential future employees. From a virtual standpoint, good professional conduct includes:
- Being punctual: try to be ready at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time
- Dressing formally or in business appropriate attire
- Staying mindful of your background to avoid any possible distractions during the interview
- Good eye contact: practice looking into the camera/webcam, not your own reflection on the screen so the speaker feels properly acknowledged
- Maintain proper body language: slouching or bad posture can give an impression that you are disinterested in the conversation, so make sure you’re attentive and sitting up straight
3. Assess Soft Skills, Hard Skills & Culture Fit
The assessment of hard skills can be done through a job screening, pre-evaluation, and looking at previous work experience and certifications/designations. However, understanding a candidate’s soft skills through the remote interview process might be more of a challenge. Dr. Kumar Singh says that “in the absence of face-to-face interaction, it was harder to evaluate softer skills and whether candidates were a cultural fit” for their organization.
Although the goal of the remote interview process is to mimic a real-life interview, there will still be certain aspects that an online experience simply cannot replicate. Most times an in person face-to-face meeting can give us a deeper understanding of someone’s personality traits. But how can we possibly compensate for this lack of substance in our interactions during an online interview?
In order to effectively assess soft skills, we must try our best to ensure the interview is highly personable. Try to make the interview “conversational” instead of a “question and answer” session,which might come off as robotic. This way you get an idea of how the interviewee actually communicates instead of receiving a memorized and scripted answer. Be sure to ask many questions related to behavioral attributes such as:
- Do you enjoy working in a team environment?
- Are you a self-starter?
- How do you handle constructive criticism?
- Describe a situation where you dealt with a stressful work matter under the absence of upper management?
- What are some examples of times you have taken a leadership role?
- What are three characteristics that describe your work ethic?
Hiring for Company Culture
Asking open-ended questions gives candidates the opportunity to express themselves. This gives the interviewer an understanding of a candidates quick thinking skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and creativity. Get the gist of a candidate’s:
- Personality traits
- Future goals
Describe the company’s vision, values, structure, work style and people in the most vivid way possible. Afterall, the interviewee should understand what they are signing up for. You can come up with a list of terms, values and goals which describe your culture or specific soft skills needed. Make sure to convey that you would like to see these specific skills within your employees. Pay particular attention to whether the candidates have any of these qualities or shared similar terms in their answers. Although the virtual experience makes it more difficult to read body language, you can focus on assessing facial expressions. Look for the needed enthusiasm towards certain job duties.
4. Address Pandemic Related Questions
The remote interview process has become a normal hiring procedure due to the pandemic itself. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many new protocols in place related to public safety. Hence, candidates are probably curious about how your workplace upholds COVID-19 safety protocols and how your business has financially weathered such turbulent times.
Be sure to communicate:
- How well your organization dealt with the effects of the pandemic
- What changes you might have made for the workplace dynamic during this time
- How COVID-19 impacts job security
- Remote, hybrid or in-person work processes
Life science employers must be ready to answer various COVID-19 related questions from candidates. They can also ask candidates how they coped with pandemic-related challenges in their own careers.
The Future of Remote Interviews
The remote interview process is a modern approach that likely is here to stay, even after the pandemic subsides. The advantages for conducting virtual interviews include shortening the hiring timeline, cost-effectiveness and expansion of the pool of candidates.
Many life science employers are now able to conduct a greater number of virtual interviews with various candidates across the world in a very short period of time. These are worthwhile benefits which can save businesses time and money. Hence, the importance of continuously practicing good remote interview processes is essential for life science employers.
Are you interested in finding well-qualified candidates within our global talent pool of life science professionals? Here is a simplified step-by-step guide that can help you get started with Xtalks Job Search, a valuable resource that can get your talent search started for the remote interview process. If you have a question about Xtalks Job Search, speak to a customer support representative directly via LiveChat or drop us a message here.