Before COVID-19, phone and video interviews were reserved for initial candidate screenings and special circumstances – making a hiring decision without ever formally meeting the candidate was a rare occurrence. You may even attest that the in-person interview is one of most important step in the hiring process, as it can make a difference between a good hire and a great hire. Now, employers must embrace virtual interviewing to keep their workplaces safe and put applicants at ease.
While many in-person job interview tips for employers still apply when conducting video interviews, there are a few best practices for virtual interviews. By following these six virtual interview tips, you will maintain a positive candidate experience and find your ideal hire (no handshaking required).
1. Prepare as you would for an in-person interview.
Just because you aren’t in the same room as your candidate, doesn’t mean you should treat a virtual interview any less seriously than a traditional one. Take time to read and re-read the job description and candidate’s resume, and write down specific questions to ask the applicant. Lastly, dress appropriately – wear what you would if you were holding the interview in an office setting.
2. Tee up your tech.
If you’re conducting a video interview, ensure the collaboration tools you’ll be using are ready to go. Familiarize yourself with the conferencing software and check that you have the most up-to-date version.
Don’t forget to test your internet connection and your video and audio quality before the interview – logging in five or 10 minutes early will give you time to troubleshoot and resolve any technical difficulties. If you have an operations or IT team on staff, don’t be afraid to tap them for help getting everything up and running.
3. Check in with the candidate prior.
If virtual interviewing is new and scary to you, imagine how job seekers must feel! One of the best virtual interview tips is to connect with the candidate a day or two before the interview to address their concerns and confirm they are set for the big event. Verify that they are comfortable with your video platform of choice and have an updated version, the right access code, conference line, and any other relevant information.Remind them to double-check their video and audio quality and to sit in a well-lit, quiet area. Taking the extra step to check in will also help you provide a positive candidate experience that sticks in the applicant’s mind (even if they don’t get the job).
4. Coordinate with your team.
If you are conducting a panel interview, or are planning for multiple stakeholders to participate from remote locations, get everyone on the same page ahead of time. Make sure all interviewers have the correct interview date and time on their calendars, adjusting for different time zones.
Provide everyone with the candidate’s resume to review in advance and give each person a specific competency to dig deeper into during the interview. Also, ensure your team knows what the open position entails and whom the candidate will report to if hired. Plan to debrief after the interview (virtually, of course) and set expectations for how interviewers should provide feedback.
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5. Stay focused. When you’re not sitting around a conference table or at your desk with the interviewee right in front of you, distractions are everywhere – especially if you’re working from home. Do your best to hold the interview in a quiet spot and close all unnecessary windows and tabs on your computer. It’s easy to start checking emails or get lost in a text when you’re in a virtual meeting, and you’ll want to give the job seeker your undivided attention. When speaking with the candidate, maintain eye contact and smile.
On the flip side, remember that your candidate is also staving off distractions – they may not have a designated workspace. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to cut them a little slack if their dog starts barking in the background, for example. After all, job hunting during a pandemic is not your everyday occurrence!
6. Supplement the interview with assessments.
One of our best virtual interview tips for hiring managers involves online assessments. If you don’t feel like you’re able to obtain a holistic view of your candidate through a virtual interview, bring assessments into your hiring process. Career, personality, and skills tests can fill in any gaps left by an untraditional interview and help you gauge culture fit. There are plenty of free career assessments available, but remember to give every candidate the same test to maintain an objective opinion.
These are just a few best practices for virtual interviews, and we will likely learn more “dos and don’ts” as businesses begin to open back up and navigate remote hiring. For more interview tips for hiring managers, check out The Official iHire Interview Guide for Employers.
If you’re a job seeker looking for virtual interviewing tips, head over to our Career Advice section to learn how to prepare for a video interview.