A Guide to Online & Virtual Interviewing
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean the end of hiring.
In fact, one advantage of everyone working from home is that many candidates are freely available, without the usual distractions of travelling, meetings, or having to discreetly leave work to attend an interview. So if you still need that skills gap filled, now could be the perfect time to take advantage of an available talent pool and potentially speed up your hiring process.
It isn’t only the interviewee that needs to prepare, however. Even if you’re used to conducting video interviews at your office, running one from your home office will be pretty different from that private room with professional equipment!
Here is our guide to help you conduct professional video interviews, especially when working remotely.
1. Technology – download it and share
Video conferencing tools such as MS Teams and Zoom have experienced a huge surge in demand as everybody scrambles to connect teams working remotely. There are a variety of tools you can use and the choice will depend on what your company may prefer, or whether your interview is one-to-one or a group.
Once you have decided on the tool – download the software to your laptop and the app to your phone. You never know when you’ll need backup. Then you will be able to create your interview appointment in your calendar and share the details of how the interviewee can access the call.
2. Test, test, test
Prior to the interview, you need to ensure that, as far as possible, technology won’t fail you. Ensure your laptop and your phone are both fully charged. Ideally, you should conduct the interview using the webcam on your laptop, if you have one. This is steadier than holding your phone and will appear more professional. It also frees up your hands to gesticulate more normally. However, should that fail you could always have something simple like a What’s App call to follow up with.
Tools such as Zoom and MS Teams provide you with the opportunity to test your computer’s microphone. Your PC’s sound settings may also do this too.
Consider the impression you want to give and position your webcam at a background that fits. Ideally, it should be plain and without distractions. Consider what might be in view on the walls or on your desk. Zoom even has virtual backgrounds to choose from.
Ideally, sit where you have enough natural light so you don’t appear as a shadow. If you need to use lights, position them above or in front of you, not behind.
Try to conduct the interview when you won’t have any distractions or noise around you, from children to the washing machine!
4. Practice and position
If you’re not used to appearing on camera, it’s worth having a practice run with a friend or colleague. It’s amazing how differently some people respond to being on a screen! This will also help with positioning and your environment.
You should have your head and shoulders squarely in view, and not appear either too close or too far away.
6. Eye contact and pause
When conducting the interview, remember to look into the camera when you talk, not the interviewee’s face on your screen. This will appear like you are looking directly at them, rather than looking off to the side.
Technology and virtual connections can create lag, so ensure you pause after each statement or question to give the interviewee a chance to respond. It’s very easy to end up talking over each other and, especially on voice-activated tools such as Zoom, this can create real confusion as to who is meant to be speaking. If it is a panel interview, plan between you the order in which you will talk as much as possible to avoid this.
7. Mitigate risks
Ensure you have an alternative contact number or email address prior to the interview in case you do get cut off from each other. If noise or interruptions become a problem, apologise, put the video on mute, and try to quickly resolve them. Failing that, if technology really lets you both down, book a re-run for as soon as possible. You don’t want doubt to set into your favoured candidate.
If the interview goes well and you would usually introduce your preferred candidate to the team or key stakeholders as a next step, you can still do this. Again, choose the right video tool for the purpose and proceed as normal. It’s important to maintain the positivity and motivation between you and your chosen candidate should you want to hire them.
A client was recently hired after conducting a video interview; they are pleased they pressed ahead and secured the talent they needed:
“We weren’t totally comfortable at first about conducting an Online interview, especially as we usually ask the interviewee to complete a test in front of us. We sent it to the candidate prior to the interview instead and conducted the feedback via a group video call. In hindsight, we could have conducted the test on the call. It wasn’t difficult and we’re pleased to say we hired the perfect candidate!”
Head of Marketing – FMCG Brand