Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to adopt and adapt to new ways of working. For those involved in recruitment, one of the many changes has been the dramatic rise in the conduct of online interviews. And, like working-from-home, it's a change that we suspect will likely continue beyond the pandemic (at least compared to the frequency of online interviews in pre-pandemic times), After all, online interviews are generally much more convenient for employers, candidates and recruiters alike.
So given the rise and likely continued use of online interviews, what are some tips for doing them well? (A couple of notes before we begin: (1) while some of the tips below can apply to both employers and candidates alike, we're looking at tips predominantly from the employer's perspective here, and (2) we're predominantly talking here about conducting "live" online interviews using technologies such as ZOOM or TEAMS, rather than candidate's submitting video recordings of responses to questions):
- Sort out the technology: If you're not a frequent user of online meeting technology, have a few "test runs" to get more comfortable with it before scheduling video interviews. Be sure that your computer applications are up to date and that your internet connection is adequate, stable etc...
- Schedule the interview in advance and keep to time: You don't just knock on a candidate's door and expect them to be prepared for an interview, so don't just call a candidate and expect them to go straight to an online interview. Be fair and be professional, and make use of the built-in scheduling tools supported by most of the applications.
- Be sure your candidate has login details well in advance of the interview and schedule them as separate meetings (to prevent the next candidate entering into an interview with another candidate that has run over time. Yes we've heard it happen!). As you would with an in-person interview, be sure to stick to the scheduled times as best you can.
- Minimise distractions: Put your phone on silent, advise others that your are in interviews and unavailable for a period of time. Be aware of your surrounds - will you be able to hear one another clearly, what's going on in the background etc...? Also be sure to close your email and other windows on your computer, to prevent annoying popups etc...
- When there are multiple people involved in the interview, it can be helpful for those not speaking to mute themselves. Discuss protocols at the start of the interview and explain the process to the candidate.
- Look at the camera. If you've been in an online meeting in which someone doesn't look at the camera, you may appreciate how off-putting it can be. Be particularly mindful if you are using multiple screens/monitors etc.., in which case your camera may not be aligned with your primary viewing screen.
- Have a backup plan in case the technology fails. As a minimum, be sure to have the candidate's mobile number handy so that you can at least chat with them if the video fails.
- Make an extra effort to build rapport. Recognising that not everyone will be equally confident with video interviews, do your best to help the candidate feel comfortable before launching into the questions. Perhaps ask them if they've had much experience with video interviews/meetings, check that they are free of distractions and comfortable, make them aware of the format and timing for the interview, ask them a gentle opening question to settle them in etc...
- As you would in an in-person interview, be mindful of the candidate's body language and personal presentation etc... Be mindful of your own presentation and body language also - as much as you are evaluating the candidate, they are likely also evaluating you as a potential employer! (Bonus tip in terms of personal presentation: Wear a shirt! Yes, we had a candidate "attend" a video interview with no shirt on. Needless to say his application did not progress!)
- Work through the questions as you normally would. Yes, video interviews can feel a bit odd at first, but at the end of the day there's not a lot you can't do in a video interview that you would do in an in-person interview. Move through the questions, seek clarification as required, and assess candidate responses against the key criteria for the role. Be sure to allocate enough time for an effective interview. Unless it's an initial screening call, thorough video interviews require about the same time as an in-person interview.
- If other people are involved in the interview (either online or in-person), be sure that the candidate has fully exited the meeting before you start to discuss their suitability.
We hope you find the tips helpful. Let us know if you have any of your own video interviewing tips/experiences you'd like to share.