Virtual Interviewing Tips
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
One of the major changes we’ve seen over the last 4 months, is virtual interviews being introduced into the hiring process more and more. In-person meetings have become a challenge, so we've put together some tips to help ensure a successful interview experience.
Between state and company policies, it has become increasingly difficult to bring candidates onsite for face-to-face interviews. Instead of the hiring process grinding to a complete halt, video interviews are becoming more normal. One of the benefits of so many people working remotely these days is that we’ve all become more familiar with video-conferencing tools, so that certainly helps. Still, challenges exist, and it can be tricky trying to demonstrate your organizational culture and work environment without being onsite. It can be done though when the proper steps are followed, and the right questions are asked.
Download our free Virtual Interviewing Guide
First and foremost, ENSURE THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION IS COMFORTABLE WITH A VIRTUAL HIRING PROCESS. Here is a quick checklist to consider before moving forward
□ You and your organization’s leadership team are okay with making hiring decisions and presenting an offer to a candidate without meeting them in-person.
□ Are all hiring managers on board with this process
□ Define the expectations of what a candidate needs to exhibit during this process in order for decision makers to be comfortable that there is a solid fit. If this differs from your typical interview and hiring process, make sure to emphasize the changes that are made.
Next, DEVELOP & CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR VIRTUAL HIRING PROCESS, highlighting the changes from your existing process. This will help ensure that all parties involved in interviewing understand the new process. Points to consider include:
Phone interviews – how many and who will be involved in that process?
Number of video interviews per candidate and who will participate. Will this be done separately or as a group video chat?
To help ensure the right decision is made, consider additional steps to further qualify candidates. This can include cultural and competency-based assessment tools, tailored and comprehensive reference checks, and follow up video interviews to address any potential concerns from previous conversations, the assessment results, and/or references.
If your company and/or state policies allow, you can also follow up with a brief in-person meeting as the last step. If an on-site meeting at your facility is not possible, you can consider meeting at a park or restaurant where proper ‘distancing’ can be maintained.
After defining your process, EXPLAIN & MANAGE EXPECTATIONS UPFRONT. Frequent communication with everyone on your interviewing team, as well as each candidate, is one of the biggest keys to success. This ensures a positive and productive experience for all involved, as well as helping to elevate your ‘employer brand.’ It also gives you the opportunity to gauge how productive the interviews were and whether the team was able to gain the necessary information and insight to make a hiring decision. If not, evaluate what changes need to be made in the future. Remember that this virtual process is new to everyone, so once you get to the point of reaching a decision and making an offer, follow up with all the stakeholders to inform them of your intent.There may be a bit of an adjustment period for people to get used to this unfamiliar method of hiring.
Initial Set Up
Before embarking on your first video interview, there are some important steps to take ahead of time. These are some tips to consider regarding the systems, environment, and behavior.
To set your organization up for success, it is important to evaluate and select a videoconferencing system that works best for your team. You may have already used or have access to these tools. Some examples include; Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet or Hangouts, which all can be used for free. There are also upgrades available for these tools at a monthly cost, as well as pay services such as GoToMeeting, Webex , and others.
Prep your environment ahead of time. It is very important to test your camera, microphone, and volume to help avoid a technical hiccup when it’s time for your video meeting. You will also want to take notice of what’s in the background, the lighting, and the positioning of your camera. People will definitely notice what’s behind you, so make sure it isn’t distracting. Some systems offer virtual backgrounds for your use (Tip: if you choose to use this feature, make sure that what would actually show behind you is presentable just in case the virtual background has a glitch). When considering your background, it should be professional, organized, and interesting but not to the point of being a distraction. If possible, using something that showcases the environment the candidate would be working in at your company is great, as well as showing a bit of your personality with photos or other office décor. Lighting is also important and you should try to avoid having lights or windows directly behind you. This could create severe shadows or washout the picture.
Pay attention to your behavior during the video call. If this is new to you and/or the candidate, it may be strange at first, but try to act naturally. It may sound simple, but just say and do the same things you would if the candidate was physically there. Try to maintain eye contact by having your camera close to the screen you are viewing, assuming it is not built into your device. Aside from that, go through the typical introductions and exchange of pleasantries, dress as you normally would, smile, use gestures, etc. As mentioned above, doing a test run and having your environment prepped ahead of time will definitely help eliminate any concerns.
Showcase Your Environment & Culture
As in any interview process, it is important to remember that it isn’t just the candidate who is selling themselves. Organizations are doing the same in order to attract top talent (at least they should be). This becomes even more critical in a virtual hiring process. Since candidates don’t have the opportunity to meet in-person and see your environment firsthand, it is much more difficult to convey the company culture and build relationships. You can download our Virtual Interviewing Guide for additional tips.
Just remember, while environment and culture certainly play a major role in a candidate accepting an offer, personal relationships that are built throughout the hiring process are crucial too. This becomes magnified in a virtual hiring process, because the more a person is able to get to know you, the more they’ll be able to see themselves as a part of your organization. When they don't have the chance to meet you in-person; open, consistent communication and the building of a deeper relationship could be the differentiator in landing the talent you need.