Remote Tech Interview Prep: The Checklist
Conducting successful remote tech interviews requires careful preparation and attention to detail. In this article, we provide a comprehensive checklist to help you navigate the unique challenges of remote interviews.
From setting clear expectations and briefing your interview team to testing technology and creating a backup plan, each step is essential for a smooth process. During the interview, effective communication, inclusive participation, and incorporating live coding questions will help you assess candidates accurately. Finally, timely follow-up and commitment to feedback are crucial for maintaining a positive candidate experience.
By following this checklist, you can optimize your remote tech interviews and hire top technical talent.
Send detailed instructions and expectations via email
You need to set clear expectations and give your candidate all necessary information. This is the case for any interview, but it’s even more relevant for a remote interview. Developers should know what to expect.
Remember to include information such as: date, time (specify time zone), format (video, audio, coding editor), online interview tool (log in information), participants (names, roles), expected duration, etc.
Choose and brief your interview team
It’s generally wise to collect multiple perspectives when interviewing a developer. Candidates appreciate meeting team members, as well as their hiring manager and/or HR contact.
However, when interviewing remotely, it’s best to include key players only. This will simplify communication. Remember to assign roles to each person involved (including who should speak when, who should take notes, etc.). Anyone who isn’t talking should remember to mute their mic to avoid background noise.
Check your technology and prepare your space
Whether you’re working from home yourself or interviewing from the office, you need to test and prepare.
First, prepare your space (whether this means booking a quiet meeting room, warning the kids/partner/etc. and closing the door, or removing any unprofessional objects from sight).
Then, prepare your tech: is your internet connection/phone reception strong? Is all of the necessary equipment working? If you’ve chosen an online tool, is it up and running? Conduct a trial run and give yourself time to troubleshoot.
Review the job description, prepare your pitch and questions
Are you able to present (briefly and seamlessly) your company and the open role? Have you prepared a list of general questions and relevant coding questions (ideally based on a technical assessment taken prior to the interview). Yep? Then you’re good to go!
Prepare a back-up plan
You can plan the best remote tech interview possible, with video interaction, multiple participants that are prepped and ready, a live coding editor with syntax highlighting, etc. – there’s still a chance that on the day, everything goes to pot.
You need a back-up plan. Make sure that you’re able to do the interview as a one-to-one phone call if necessary (and warn your candidate that this is a possibility).
Keep your verbal and nonverbal communication in check
Distanced communication, video calls especially, isn’t easy. Try to avoid fidgeting, looking at your own or the candidate’s image, and any unnecessary talking overlaps (even if it’s to express your agreement!).
Instead, remain calm and natural, look directly at the camera, deliberately pause before and after speaking and show visual signs of active listening (a simple nod or a smile will reassure the candidate that you’re still there and that you’re not just a frozen screen!).
Introduce and include all interview participants
Remember to introduce everyone taking part in the interview. Whether you’re in the same place or in different remote locations, one person should lead the interview and play the role of coordinator.
It’s especially important when interviewing remotely to “pass the mic”. During remote interviews, it’s not as easy to jump in on the conversation. Make sure you leave room for others to chime in.
Include live coding questions
Including live coding doesn’t have to be stressful for your candidate. It’s simply a basis for technical conversation, a way for developers to showcase their skills and thought process.
Undoubtedly, the prospect of thinking and coding live, in the presence of an interviewer, can induce stress. Nevertheless, live coding interviews offer a remarkable opportunity to showcase skills and provide invaluable insights. These tests enable recruiters and hiring managers to observe a candidate’s coding proficiency, logical reasoning, and ability to articulate their problem-solving approach.
Why not incorporate live coding sessions into your developer assessment process? Not only do these interactive sessions allow interviewers to witness a candidate’s performance in real-time, but they also assess their communication and collaboration skills within a team, particularly in collective interviews.
Typically, live coding is facilitated through screen sharing using online interview tools like CoderPad Interview. The applicant receives a brief and is then observed as they tackle the given task. Unlike timed exams, this exercise emphasizes constructive dialogue rather than providing a correct answer in the shortest possible time.
Interviewers may be interested in seeing what kind of questions the interviewee will ask to comprehend the problem before diving into its resolution. Furthermore, they appreciate when candidates openly communicate any challenges they face during the session.
Ultimately, the goal of a programming interview is not to generate or evaluate a flawlessly crafted and meticulously organized piece of code. Rather, live coding serves as a means for both parties to gain mutual understanding in a dynamic and conversational setting.
For example, here’s an interview question presented in the CoderPad sandbox:
Follow up and stick to your commitments
Of course, this is sensible interview etiquette for any role, but programmers are particularly sensitive to timely feedback – ghosting is a major pet peeve! In fact, according to CodinGame’s annual tech hiring survey, one in two developers say it’s what annoys them most about the recruitment process. So, make sure you follow up, give relevant feedback and explain the next steps. If you promise to do so before a certain date, keep that promise!