According to a June 2020 Stanford University study, 42% of the American workforce switched to remote working on a full-time basis in the wake of pandemic-triggered shutdowns, prompting many organizations to reconsider their in-person recruiting and hiring practices, including how to attract more diverse qualified talent for remote roles.

Now, as more organizations consider making the shift to remote work permanent it is imperative employers approach hiring in-demand tech talent differently for candidates living outside of traditional tech hubs. Just as with in-person interviews, virtual interviews for remote software engineering roles must be fair, predictive, and pleasant. If you consider the huge shortage of skilled software engineers, a well-rounded interview process for remote candidates takes on even more importance.

Here are five ways to improve remote interviewing experiences for candidates.

1. Institute interviewer accountability. Create guidelines for interviewers, as part of the hiring process for remote developers. These should include procedures for interview length, content, communication, and write-ups. Beyond that, interviews should be recorded so that other interviewers can go over them and provide feedback. According to a 2020 survey of engineering leaders conducted by Harris Insights, nearly 6 in 10 companies that are very satisfied with their engineering hires monitor the performance of interviewers, compared with just 43% among those that are less satisfied.

2. Lay out competencies. To ensure you make the best hires for remote engineering roles, be sure to pair competencies with those jobs, clearly communicate those competencies to job candidates, assess competencies one at a time rather than as a cluster and inform all interviewers of the required competencies.

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3. Standardize measurement. To reduce bias, well-crafted scoring rubrics should be incorporated into interview write-ups. Structured scoring rubrics help level the playing field by giving interviewers a standard format to share their objective observations regarding the candidate’s competencies.

4. Provide flexibility. When you’re hiring remote developers, keep in mind that they could be anywhere in the U.S. or other countries. And increasingly, during a time when workers may be balancing kids with remote school and other obligations, many of the best candidates prefer to interview outside of regular business hours. You should be prepared to conduct interviews that align with a candidate’s time zone or preference, even if that means an interview must be done outside of usual business hours.

5. Check the tech. Hiring remote workers typically requires conducting virtual interviews. As you know, technical glitches can complicate the process and happen frequently. Therefore, the interviewer and candidate should test their audio and visual capabilities as well as internet connectivity beforehand. Also, both parties should be in well-lit quiet settings so that facial cues and body language are easily detected, and there is minimal noise disruption. In addition, make sure the candidate is able to access the interview and/or coding environment prior to the interview. This will give them time to get comfortable and adjust preferences in advance so they aren’t taking time away from completing skills assessments or interview time.

The Bottom Line

No interview is without its hiccups. But by establishing clear guidelines and being well-prepared, virtual interviews for remote engineering roles can go smoothly — and can go a long way toward smoother workforce operations. Forward-looking organizations that embrace remote work not only enhance internal work culture but also may find that their ability to attract a diverse pool of qualified technical talent will increase.