From working from home and doing all meetings online, the onset of COVID-19 forced companies globally to adapt fast. While many business operation changes will revert to normal at some stage, if there’s one that will endure post-pandemic, it’s virtual job interviews.
Conducting interviews via video has made it easy for employers to recruit swiftly and safely – and it’s a trend that’s going nowhere. According to a study commissioned by video interview and assessment provider, HireVue, 54% of companies said virtual interviews resulted in a speedier recruitment process, while 41% say it helped them identify the best candidates.
What’s more, at the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, an incredible 82% of organisations were conducting job interviews virtually.
While assessing potential candidates from the confines of a computer screen may never beat that in-person interaction, there are many advantages of remote interviewing.
In-person interviews are more costly and time-consuming, and video conferencing calls can really quicken the recruitment process. Furthermore, remote hiring eliminates in-person interview stress (for both parties!) while offering flexibility too.
When you conduct remote interviews well, you make smarter hiring choices, it’s that simple. And to help you master the art, our guide to hiring when you can’t meet face-to-face will help empower both you and your candidates, so you all get the best out of the experience.
1 Set the scene for your candidates beforehand
Whether recruiting for temporary, permanent, contract jobs or labourer jobs, the key to a successful remote interview is setting the scene for the candidate. Tech whizzes and corporate professionals will be super-accustomed to Zoom meetings, but blue-collar workers perhaps less so.
Therefore, why not check with each candidate beforehand that they are comfortable with and capable of attending a virtual interview, emailing them instructions and tips on how to prepare if necessary?
At the start of each remote interview, it may be beneficial to explain to them what will unfold during the call – a potentially unfamiliar process for them. This will arm candidates with clarity and confidence to perform their best, which, in turn, helps you make an informed hiring decision.
2 Schedule sensibly
Just because you’re conducting them online, reconsider scheduling your virtual job interviews back-to-back in large blocks. Like you would with an in-person interview, allow time beforehand to prepare and review CVs, and allow time after to digest the experience, making notes that will you’re your decision-making process.
3 Observe body language
OK, so you may only be able to see the candidate from the chest-up in a tiny Teams box, but that makes it all the more important for you to be on-the-ball when it comes to observing body language; yours and the candidates.
Without being able to see their full set of mannerisms, pay attention to their facial expressions and tone of voice. Engage in and maintain eye contact by looking directly at the camera as much as possible, rather at their (or your own!) image in the box.
4 Listen, listen, listen
As we’ve established, non-verbal cues are harder to identify than in-person. With virtual job interviews you need to work that bit harder to keep your focus and remain engaged.
Whenever the candidate is speaking, it helps to consciously and actively listen to what they’re saying, not just trying to remember your next question without glancing at your notepad.
Given that their questions to your answers will largely be governing your decision, be present and pay close attention to what they are really trying to communicate to you.
5 Keep conversation flowing and create an emotional connection
Virtual calls can be prone to delays resulting in the potential to talk over each other. To minimise this risk, consider leaving a few-seconds pause before and after your sentences. Team interviews elevate the chance of who-goes-first moments, so perhaps keep it one-on-one during first round interviews.
It’s just as important (if not more) to create the same emotional connection as you would in person. Try doing this with warm-hearted small talk before the interview even begins. Perhaps you can pick up on a shared personal interest from their CV? This will make the candidate feel at ease and engaged in the process.
6 Brush up on your remote interview etiquette
Never forget that as their potential employer, you’re effectively being interviewed too. Whether seeking permanent placement or contract recruitment, all candidates desire to work with companies that align with their values.
It’s in your interest to showcase the same level of professionalism as if you were meeting in person. Minimise distractions by locking your office door and turning off device alerts. Look presentable and choose a neutral background where you are well lit. Perhaps avoid recording the interview, this could make the candidate even more nervous than they already are!
When the interview is underway, try discussing topics that would allow both parties to not just explore whether the candidate can perform the job well, but if they will be happy and fulfilled in the role, while fitting into the company culture.
7 Harness the power of screen sharing
One great advantage of video conferencing technology is the ability to screen share. This is your opportunity to enrich the interview experience by sharing vital information, slides or presentations about the job in hand and your workplace itself.
Screen sharing could also give the candidate the chance to perform a task or solve a problem, which will help you make a more informed recruiting decision.
8 Be judgemental…in the right way
You will likely be interviewing candidates in their homes; a window into their personal life that would ordinarily remain unseen. Perhaps their lighting isn’t great, maybe there’s noise coming from their neighbours, you may even dislike the décor!
Try not to let these distracting factors cloud or influence your judgement when making hiring choices. Instead, focus on their background, skills, performance and culture-fit potential.
9 Prepare a rock-solid Plan B
Your internet connection fails. Your candidate loses the meeting password. Your laptop won’t boot-up. What do you do? As much as we rely on technology, it can be problematic at the worst of times, so it’s beneficial to bullet-proof your remote interviewing process with a reliable Plan B.
If it’s a tech failure from your end, be apologetic and ensure you have their phone number and email address on hand so you can contact them immediately. Perhaps you can do a phone interview or maybe you can reschedule?
If it’s an issue on the candidate’s end, be understanding and forgiving, it may be their first time using a platform like Zoom or Teams. Allow them time to reconnect to the call, giving advice where necessary.
10 Close like a – literal - boss
It’s coming to the end of your remote interview. Now is the time to close in style. Hopefully it’s been a productive, two-way exchange, but if there’s any information you’re missing from your candidate, this is your opportunity to ask any further questions. Likewise, prompt them to ask you anything more they would like to know as well.
Try giving them peace of mind by explaining what happens next so they are clear on your hiring processes. Lastly, you want them to leave with a positive view on your company. Round up with a warm, friendly closing, being gracious and thanking them for their time, too.
11 Approach your virtual hiring strategy with optimism
According to a survey by virtual meetings solutions provider, PGI, over 65% of candidates preferred using video during the interview process. It saves them the hassle of commuting and parking too, so it’s likely candidates will respond to your invitation to a remote interview positively.
When you’re polishing and perfecting a virtual hiring program for your business, approach it with optimism and careful planning. That way you can anticipate any potential pitfalls along the way, while presenting an open, encouraging experience for candidates to best showcase their talents.
Follow all our above tips on how to conduct successful remote job interviews and you’ll be well on your way to making the smartest hires.
Help the candidate prepare by making sure they’re able to use virtual conferencing tech and are clear on your remote interview process.
Allow yourself time before and after each remote interview to prepare and then digest.
Maintain eye contact and observe their expressions and tone of voice.
Listen attentively to every word the candidate is saying.
Ensure conversation flows well and create an emotional connection.
Establish a professional setting for conducting your remote interviews, giving the opportunity for the candidate to shine.
Use screen-sharing if necessary to enrich the interview experience.
Don’t let irrelevant details like background noise or candidate setting influence your judgement.
Have a solid back-up plan to overcome any tech failures.
Round-up your virtual job interview warmly, ensuring all parties have no further questions.
Be optimistic about creating an effective remote interviewing strategy.
Do you need help with hiring? Then contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group to receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.