Top tips to conduct an effective virtual interview

How to Conduct an Effective Virtual Interview

As companies everywhere are forced to make adjustments and prioritise the health and safety of their employees and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are reassessing how they conduct candidate job interviews. In many cases, this means changing from in-person interviews to virtual ones.

For some recruiters, virtual or video interviews are familiar and their companies have established video conferencing capabilities. But for many others, this is all brand new and companies are being forced to quickly adapt to new technologies and adjust from traditional ways of working.

Whether you’re a video-interviewing veteran or a virtual novice, we hope the tips below will help. The good news is that many of the same approaches and considerations that you bring when interviewing candidates face to face will serve you well while conducting video interviews.

An important thing to remember is to keep everyone ‘in the loop’. If all your job interviews are going to be done by video conferencing, you should quickly let all candidates know that. Emphasise that this is being done to protect their health (and yours). As your business policies and procedures change in the face of coronavirus, make sure you and your teammates are all on the same page about how you’re going to conduct interviews moving forward.

Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your interviews go off without a hitch.

Our 5 top tips on conducting a virtual interview

1. Line up the necessary technology and test it

The last thing you want is to join a virtual interview and discover that your audio isn’t working or that you don’t know how to share your screen. This is why it’s so important to do a test run ahead of the actual interview.

If you haven’t used videoconferencing tools before, don’t worry. There are a lot of 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. The beauty of a virtual interview is that you can record the session so you can re-watch the session or share it with another decision-maker if they are unable to attend the live session.

Make sure you know how to work all the necessary features and do a sound and video quality test to ensure things are functioning properly.

  • Choose the right video conferencing tool
  • Make sure you know how the software works
  • Test everything beforehand

2. Find a quiet space with no distractions

Even though the interview is happening virtually, it still deserves the same level of respect and professionalism that you would commit to any other job interview.

Make sure you find a spot that is clean and free of anything distracting in the background. Pick a quiet space that will allow you and your candidate to communicate clearly and, as much as possible, without interruption.

Find a well-lit room where you can control the amount of outside light. Both too much light coming through the windows or too little can make you difficult to see, and that can get in the way of connecting with your candidate.

  • Prepare the best location beforehand
  • Choose somewhere with good light that’s quiet and clear
  • NO distractions

3. Be direct and honest

Despite your preparation, technical glitches can still occur. If that does happen, don’t hesitate to disclose it to the candidate.

If the video freezes or the audio skips out and you’re unable to hear that person’s response, ask them to repeat it.

It’s far better to be upfront and get the information that you need, rather than politely nodding because you’re too embarrassed to admit that you missed something.

As an added precaution, give them a backup phone number to reach you and ask them to share the same with you.

  • Communicate clearly with the candidate about the process
  • Accept technological limitations and deal with problems openly
  • Treat this like a normal interview

4. Remember your body language

As mentioned previously, it might be happening virtually, but this is still a job interview—which means you need to behave as professionally as you normally would.

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. Remember, this person can still see you so dress appropriately, and 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 and nod when the candidate talks to show that you’re listening to what they are saying.

  • Be PROFESSIONAL!
  • Speak clearly and keep eye contact
  • Remember they can see you too

5. Follow up with a thank-you message, a request for feedback, and any next steps

After your virtual interview follow up with a thank-you note to the candidate for being adaptable and for giving up their valuable time to speak with you.

If you haven’t done many video interviews, you might also want to ask the candidate for feedback about the process — How did it go? What worked? What could still use some tweaking? This will give you a chance to elevate your candidate experience.

Use your post-interview note to tell your candidate about next steps. Let them know if they’re no longer in consideration or to let them know they’re a finalist and may still need an additional interview, assessment, or background check.

  • Thank them and maybe ask for feedback
  • Communicate all your post interview information
  • Learn from your mistakes or successes for next time

Finally remember to sell yourself

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 get a firsthand glimpse of your company culture. To compensate for that, spend extra time preparing a compelling culture pitch. Use the opportunity to differentiate yourself as a recruiter by telling a compelling story as well as focusing on your company’s mission and vision and how that ties to the candidate’s values.

To get a little extra support in painting your company’s culture, consider if there are any visual materials you can share with candidates during or after the interview. The chances are you have a library of employee testimonials or social media posts capturing meaningful moments in the day-to-day work life of your employees.

Virtual interviews allow you to keep hiring talent

While videoconferencing can be a substantial switch to your recruiting process and may make showcasing your company culture a bit more difficult, it can also be an effective way to keep candidates engaged and move them through the hiring process, quickly and safely. If the technology still seems a bit confusing then please feel free to contact us for a chat.

A well-executed video interview should still allow you to deliver a great candidate experience by showing the agility, flexibility, and empathy that are the hallmarks of a strong company culture.

Good luck!

Other pages of interest

For more useful information, news and resources feel free to look around our website and in particular our Client pages including Client JourneyCase StudiesResources and our regularly updated Blog.

We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Corby and Kettering. We help people find their perfect job and match suitable jobseekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – SalesMarketingAccountancy & FinanceHR and Office