3 Strategies to Hiring Confidently without In-person Interviews

Learn best practices from talent leaders at Confluent and InVision


More so than most corporate functions, recruiters and hiring managers rely on in-person interactions to assess the emotional intelligence and soft skills of their candidates. However, as more and more business is being done remotely, recruiters need to shift their strategies to deliver the insights managers need to be confident in their hiring decisions. 

Searchlight sat down with Lynn Carter of Confluent and Jackie Velasquez-Ross of InVision to talk about how their businesses have adjusted to our new reality and the investments they’re making to future proof their hiring processes. Here is what we learned.

Main Takeaways:

  • Define your hiring criteria upfront and invest in a structured hiring process that improves organizational decision-making, drives higher conversion rates, lowers implicit bias, and increases equity. 
  • Your hiring process is your best opportunity to show your candidates what working for your organization will be like and that they’ll be set up for success. Strive to add casual touchpoints between employees and candidates. Build inclusive hiring panels. 
  • Building deeper working relationships with hiring managers and becoming a true business partner will develop the trust and confidence necessary to make key hiring decisions sight unseen. 

Structured Recruiting 

The best recruiting teams have long relied on building well defined hiring processes that allowed organizations to scale while maintaining a high bar for excellence. With hiring becoming a 100% remote practice structured recruiting has gone from a best practice to table stakes. 

“Structured interviews are important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s equitable. If you have a plan to interview against, what you’re really doing is asking your team to apply that plan to every candidate. Why you do that is, you want to know as much as you can about this person and you want to have a lot of different topics to cover to understand how their experiences can apply. You also provide a richer experience to the candidate so that they don’t 5 of the same questions asked in a row. And you’ll be able to compare each candidate with like-data and not allow that “gut feel” to determine the hire. Instead, it’s based on criteria that’s been determined before the person ever showed up and applied to each person that addresses the bias we all have.” - Lynn Carter

Working with hiring managers to understand the exact requirements and responsibilities of a role is more important than ever. Before a job description is ever published the team needs to be aligned on the “criteria”: experience, skills, and competencies necessary to succeed in the role. To ensure that at the end of the interview process the team can make the right call, standardized questions and interview rubrics should be shared with the interviewers, so that each candidate is judged by the same criteria. 

With the number of applicants for new roles on the rise and hiring managers not being able to meet candidates in person, having clear decision-making criteria is critical for all recruiting teams. 

Employee Experience

The hidden benefit of a structured recruiting process is that it also helps deliver a strong candidate experience. If every interviewer knows the competencies they should be interviewing for and the criteria by which they will be judging each candidate, the interviewee will quickly get an accurate sense of what the role entails while seeing the strong organization of the company they’ll be joining. 

Starting a new role is a risky decision and on-boarding is a stressful process under the best of circumstances. Today, to make sure that top candidates feel like they’re ready to make the leap, requires instilling confidence that your organization is prepared to support 100% remote employees, set them up for success, all while recognizing the unprecedented challenge of the current moment. 

“I want to see people who look like me because I want to feel like I have a place there, people who I can relate to and aspire to be. It’s therefore so important to have diverse panels that include people at the intersectionalities of our beautiful world. At InVision, one way we do that is by doing a 30-45 minutes interview on something we call InVision Principles. You can train anyone in the company - it could be a recruiter, a CEO, a product manager - make sure to have a diverse slate of people who are trained to do this one specific interview so that it becomes very easy to create a very diverse panel.” - Jackie Velasquez-Ross

What this looks like starts with the first phone screens and into meetings. While it’s always been important to build a human connection with candidates to understand their motivations and decision-making criteria, it is now also important to allow them to bring their whole selves into the interview process. Try to insert some casualness into the process - interviewing is stressful! This might mean being more flexible about scheduling or letting a candidate hold a baby as they talk to their presentation. Showing candidates that they will be seen and treated as whole human beings, not just as employees, is a huge part of the interview process. 

Business Partners 

Taking on a new role in an uncertain time is hard, but so is making a critical hiring decision without ever having a chance to meet a candidate in person. To enable managers to make these decisions confidently requires becoming a true business partner. 

For talent and people leaders this means aligning recruiters with specific teams gives them the time necessary to become subject matter experts in the types of recruiting and hiring they lead. Whether an organization is receiving a deluge of new applications or only a trickle, having strong phone screens that only bring in candidates that align with the criteria defined in intake conversations helps build the culture of trust and will help make final decisions easier to execute. 

Finally, building structured recruiting criteria and decision-making rubric upfront will ensure that managers can objectively review their candidate pool at the end of an interview cycle and feel confident about their decision. While you rarely find someone who satisfies every attribute, seeing that a candidate fulfills 70%-80% of the predetermined skills and experiences can help the hiring manager make a tough call where otherwise they would lack the data they needed the move forward. 


While change remains the only constant in our work today, it is heartening to see that the best practices that were true in January of 2020 are still true today. If you didn't have a chance to join our webinar live, please watch it on demand and look out for future posts and thought leadership roundtables from Searchlight in the future!

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