As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to reshape and redefine how we live and work, many companies are being challenged to reconsider how they operate. Employees may be working from home, but that doesn’t mean hiring and other important business operations can stop.
While in-person job interviews might seem like a crucial step in the hiring process, they aren’t possible in this moment of social distancing and self-quarantine. Luckily, when done right, video interviews can be just as effective, allowing you to accurately evaluate talent and ensure you hire the right person for your job. Let’s explore how to conduct a successful video interview.
1. Plan and practice presentation
As your policies and procedures change in the face of coronavirus, you should quickly let all candidates know that all your job interviews are going to be done by videoconferencing. Underscore that this is being done to protect their health (and yours).
Before the interview, practice to make sure everything is set up okay as it’s highly likely that you’ll need to make adjustments. Avoid using a tablet or phone as they don’t have the capabilities of a computer or laptop. You should also do a test call beforehand to make sure your microphone is at the right volume. If you plan on sharing your screen, try that feature and make sure you can use it effortlessly by the time of the actual interview.
Practicing to make sure you’re comfortable with the format will ultimately make you appear comfortable and professional during the interview.
2. Set Expectations
Once you have confirmed an interview time, let the candidate know what format the interview will follow, who they’ll be speaking with, and what topics or questions will be covered. Providing these details ahead of time allows a candidate to put their best foot forward and ensures everyone is operating from a shared understanding.
It’s also a good practice to set clear guidelines for the call itself. What software or application will be used to conduct the interview? Will the candidate need log-in credentials, a meeting number, or will you be initiating the call? Be sure to include these details in your communications so that you don’t leave the candidate in the dark.
3. Be aware of your environment
The candidate will be assessing your business from what they can see, which means that you need to prep the room (or at least the bit they’ll be able to see).
Try to conduct an interview in a clean and quiet location with little or no distractions in the background. Consider the lighting in the room. If you have a window in the background consider closing the shade to prevent backlighting that would put your face in a shadow and make it difficult for the candidate to see you, so test prior to the interview.
4. Practice a compelling (virtual-only) company culture pitch
One of the challenges with video interviews is that your candidates are not going to have a chance to walk around your office space and campus and get a firsthand glimpse of your company culture. To compensate for that, spend extra time preparing a compelling culture pitch. There’s a humongous opportunity to differentiate yourself as a recruiter by telling a compelling story, focusing on your company’s mission and vision and how that ties to the candidate’s values.
5. Appear as professional and personable as you would in person
It’s important to signal to every candidate that the video interview they’re about to have is every bit as important and serious as an in-person interview would be. So, dress appropriately. Make sure the ringer is turned off on your phone as are the notifications on your email.
Once the interview starts, remember to smile. Make and sustain eye contact. Speak clearly. Nod when the candidate talks to show that you’re tracking.
And take notes — not only about what the candidate says and how they behave but about the process. Jot down reminders about what is working and what is not.
Whether your interview is in person or over video, it’s best practice to follow up with candidates afterward. Especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, job seekers are more stressed than ever before, and not hearing back from an interview can amplify that stress.
As a candidate, you should conclude by thanking the interviewer for their time. Send a follow-up thank you email later that day (or the next day if your interview was in the evening). This message may help build a stronger connection with your potential employer and help you progress to the next step.