Many of us are now working remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue the hiring process, video interviews are a must and will become the norm in the future. They offer far greater flexibility (consider the time and planning involved in conducting an “In-person” interview) a great insight into how a candidate can adapt to different communication formats and engage key stakeholders while weeding out those professional interviewees who can pull the wool over your eyes.
However, they are not without their pitfalls and practice makes perfect. The fundamentals of interviewing still hold true for video interviews but there are several nuances to be aware of. As such Butler Ross has outlined our top tips in preparing for and conducting successful video interviews. An unpolished process can come across as unprofessional and even damage your brand.
Outline the process
First and foremost, put a formal plan together with your entire hiring team. How will the interview process change now that it’s being conducted remotely, will you need to prepare a slide presentation to share on screen? Are there any steps candidates need to complete ahead of time to prepare, what is your backup plan if the internet connection (either yours or the candidates) becomes an issue? In times like these, aim to over communicate. When the majority of your team is remote, you don’t have the luxury of popping over to their desk to ask for clarification.
Choose, install and test
Regardless of which interview software you select, it’s important to understand and have experience with the nuances before conducting an interview. Do some research beforehand to find out if the candidate needs to have certain log-in credentials, or download any software in order to join the conversation. Make sure to provide all of this information to candidates long before the interview so they can test out the software.
Additionally, hold a few test interviews with your team members to ensure everyone understands how to set up video and audio functions, mute themselves, share their screen and chat during the interview.
Notify candidates as soon as possible
Video interviews, when done correctly, are as effective as in-person interviews.
Nonetheless, it’s still a change candidate also need to prepare for. Provide them with clear directions on the equipment they’ll need to join the interview such as internet access, software or video conferencing applications and a quiet space. Emphasise that the change is out of concern for their health and safety, along with that of your employees. Additionally, communicate expectations as you would for an onsite interview so the candidate is well-prepared.
Set up a good interviewing space
Designate a quiet, well-lit space for conducting interviews. The video quality is a huge factor of interview quality; if the candidate has trouble hearing or seeing you, they’re going to have trouble connecting with your company.
Conducting the interview
Log on early
Don’t let your candidate wait around wondering if they’ve got the right time or joined the right meeting. Show up to the video interview five minutes early and switch off your video functionality while you wait. This will ensure you’re on time to the meeting, but you can continue to work in the meantime. Your candidates will appreciate your punctuality and preparedness.
Silence your phone and mute notifications
Give candidates your full attention and turn off the rest of the world when conducting video interviews. Remember, this is a time to both assess a candidate’s fit for the role and sell your company as a potential employer, so treat them with the same respect you expect from them.
Even if you are no longer in the office, dress professionally. Showing up in attire that is not typical office attire for your organisation, will signal to the candidate that the conversation isn’t important, you can always change after the interview. Dressing as you would in the office gives the candidate a sense of your culture and makes a video interview feel more in line with an onsite interview.
Be considerate and compassionate
Give your candidate the respect they deserve by minimising background noises and distractions. However, life happens, especially at home and there may be interruptions. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the candidate’s flexibility in moving the interview to a video conference and ask them for their patience if things pop up. Additionally, don’t fault candidates if the same happens from their end.
Be conscious of your body language
Treat a video interview like you would an in-person one. Just because there’s a screen between you and the candidate does not mean that common courtesies are off the table. Over 50% of communication is nonverbal, and another 40% is conveyed through tone of voice; your words amount to less than 10%. In short, the way you present yourself is extremely important. Make eye contact, sit up straight and nod to show you’re following along with what the candidate is saying. Also don’t forget to smile!
Highlight your company culture
Candidates can’t experience your company culture first hand during a video interview, so make it a point to highlight your culture throughout the conversation. Emphasise your core values, company mission and talk about how your office is structured and the intention behind it. Paint a clear picture of what it’s like to work at your company. Above all, infuse your culture into the interview by embodying your core values and treating the candidate as you would a colleague.
Review past interview notes
Ahead of a video interview, review your notes from previous conversations with the candidate so the next one is as productive as possible. Take notes on what the candidate says, how engaged they seem and their general demeanour during every interview. Note that it’s important to inform the interviewee that you’re taking notes to reference later and that you’re still paying full attention to the conversation. They can’t tell what you’re writing, and to them, it may seem like you’re not paying attention.
Ask consistent questions
Regardless of interview format, it’s vital that you ask all candidates a consistent set of questions. Continue to use the questions you’ve outlined for in-person and onsite interviews. That way, if interruptions happen, as they’re likely to during video interviews you’re better prepared to evaluate and compare candidates based on the merit of their responses. Additionally, use an interview scorecard to remain unbiased in your evaluations.
Have a backup plan
No matter how many times you test your video interview software, problems can still occur. In the event that video or audio functions aren’t working, internet access becomes unstable or surroundings are no longer conducive to an interview, have a failsafe in place. Whether you default to a phone call or switch to FaceTime, ensure you have an alternative method for conducting the interview.
Set up a feedback process
Take the opportunity to learn from each interview by asking candidates to complete a feedback survey afterwards. Keep the survey simple and ask general questions about how candidates felt the conversation went, if the software worked well and if there is anything that could be done to improve the video interview experience. Use the information from these surveys to enhance the process as you go.
To try and help we have conducted some research and identified some of the best used software for video interviews. All are effective and down to personal choice. Our single bit of advice here is to pick one that the candidates you are interviewing can easily access. From experience Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams tick this box.
Google Hangouts Meet https://gsuite.google.com/signup/basic/welcome
Cisco WebEx Meetings https://www.webex.com/
Video Interviewing like anything takes practice. But used well will be an incredibly effective tool in speeding up the recruitment process and identifying the best talent. I hope this helps you along the journey as we all adapt.