If you are like many companies making adjustments to prioritize the health and safety of your employees and communities amid the coronavirus crisis, you may be considering transitioning from in-person candidate interviews to virtual interviews. Whether your company is familiar with video interviews and has established videoconferencing capabilities or is in the process of quickly adapting to new video technologies, many of the same approaches and considerations that you bring to in-person interviews will serve you well while conducting video interviews.
Preparing for a virtual interview is an important part of the process. As FlexJobs staff writer Christine Bernier Lienke points out (5 Ways to Prepare to Conduct a Virtual Job Interview), being thoroughly prepared and considering every aspect of virtual job interviews can help you find the best candidates and make the interview experience a smooth one for everyone.
Here are some tips to help you conduct a seamless virtual job interview:
Create a process for how video interviews will be conducted and communicate clearly and thoroughly with your hiring team and candidates.
As your policies and procedures change in the face of coronavirus, make sure you and your interviewers are all on the same page about how you’re going to manage and run your virtual interviews, says LinkedIn Talent blogger Bruce Anderson (7 Tips for Conducting a Seamless Virtual Job Interview). Also, it is important to explain to your candidates how your virtual job interviews are going to be conducted and address any questions they might have in advance of their interviews.
Line up the necessary technology and give it a test run.
If you haven’t used videoconferencing tools before, there are many reliable options on the market: Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex Meetings, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Meet are some of the most widely used platforms. To minimize technical hiccups and maximize candidate experience, do a video test run before your interviews. Make sure your signal strength is adequate and the camera and microphone both work and are set up so the candidate can easily see and hear you. Small Business Trends staff writer Rob Starr (10 Tips for Conducting a Successful Video Interview with Job Candidates) suggests recording a practice call with a co-worker and reviewing your body language, tone of voice and background lighting.
Choose a clean, quiet and well-lit space for your interviews.
Set up your interviews in a space that is clean and free of anything distracting in the background. Also, make sure the space is well-lit and try to manage outside light. Too much or too little light coming through windows can make it difficult for the candidate to see you, which can diminish the sense of connection you are trying to create.
Allow for the possibility of disruption in the candidate’s space.
Try to be understanding if some activity in the candidate’s space disrupts the interview. If a dog barks, a child cries or the phone rings, candidates should not be penalized. Life is sometimes hard to contain, particularly when spouses and partners may be working from home and children may have had school cancelled, which is more likely during this coronavirus crisis.
Start with an introduction and a compelling overview of your company.
Most candidates are usually a little nervous at the beginning of an interview, and a remote interview likely adds an extra level of anticipation, so open the interview by introducing yourself and your business. Since your candidates won’t be seeing your workspace or other employees in person, give them a brief overview of your company and try to convey a little about your culture by highlighting your company’s mission, vision and values.
Ensure that your video demeanor is professional but not intimidating.
Use a speaking style and facial expressions that convey interest and demonstrate that you’re listening to help create a good virtual job interview flow. Also look directly into the camera to help the candidate feel more connected to you.
Avoid multitasking and distractions.
Turn off your phone or any apps with notifications that might distract you. Also, let candidates know if you are taking notes during the interview so they don’t think you’re checking emails or doing other tasks not related to the interview.
Conclude your virtual interviews the same as you would an in-person interview.
Whether you normally explain the next steps or simply thank candidates for their participation, your regular process for concluding interviews will apply to your video interviews. You may want to reiterate that the health and safety of candidates and employees is a key factor in your decision to conduct virtual interviews.
While video conferencing can be a substantial change to your recruiting process, it can be an effective way to keep candidates engaged and move them through the hiring pipeline smoothly and safely. A well-executed video interview allows you to keep your hiring process moving forward while creating a positive candidate experience that demonstrates your agility, flexibility and concern for the health and safety of your candidates and employees.