For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our working lives upside down. With remote working now the norm and a newly invigorated focus on digital tools that enable communication and engagement; many once face-to-face HR processes have also had to pivot to this new, online normal too.
COVID-19 has devastated both the personal and professional lives of many and unemployment claims surged by 70% in April 2020 alone. As candidates looking for work flood the market, those businesses that are actively recruiting have turned to virtual interviews as a means of growing their team.
Interviews are typically a very personal affair between candidates and interviewers. And yet, for recruiters and candidates alike, virtual interviews can seem a little less natural and more casual than in-person interviews.
While video interviews take place in real-time so are as similar to an in-person interview as possible, it can be difficult to read a person’s body language and pick up on non-verbal cues in order to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role.
Nevertheless, if you are conducting virtual interviews, many of the same approaches and considerations that you bring when interviewing candidates face-to-face will serve you well while conducting video interviews.
Here are 6 handy tips to ensure an effective virtual interview with your next candidate.
Like any interview, making sure you have fully prepared ahead of time is crucial. Check over a candidate’s CV, research the candidates, review exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate, prepare relevant questions and discuss the role ahead of time with their line manager.
Just like you would expect your candidate to prepare for an interview, it is just as important that you, as an interviewer, show up prepared too.
Test your tech
This should go without saying before any important meeting. While we have all become accustomed to a new, remote way of working; technology does have its slip-ups from time to time.
Whether that is a slow internet connection, no microphone connected or your video stream not quite as crystal clear as you’d like; make sure the tools you are planning to use for a virtual interview are working as expected.
Make sure you let your candidate know what technology you will be using for the interview, too. This will give them time to prepare and test their own equipment ahead of time. Not only will this calm their nerves, but it will allow you to get right into the interview without having to worry about any technical issues.
Create a distraction-free zone
Whether you are conducting an interview from home or in the office, ensure the room you choose is free of distraction and people milling around in the background.
While many of us continue to work from home, you won’t be able to completely remove every distraction. You really cannot help the construction noise from your neighbour’s extension, dogs barking outside or a siren blaring past but do what you can to minimise anything that will distract you or your candidate.
Try to keep your background as neutral as possible – a blank wall works well – and steady your laptop and webcam on a flat surface.
Turn off your notifications, silence your phone and close your email application for the duration of the interview to avoid any unwanted distractions.
Prepare a compelling culture pitch
Usually, candidates can get a feel for your culture and working environment when they come into the office for a face-to-face interview. But in the times of virtual interviews, their only experience of your business is only with perhaps one or two members of staff. They don’t get to fully experience the office space and colleagues they could be working with.
To showcase your culture, spend some time preparing materials that demonstrate your company mission, your values and what it is like to work there. Share employee insights and links to your company social media channels that exemplify the spirit of your company.
Remember your body language
We’ve all become accustomed to informal video calls, Zoom chats and social gatherings on FaceTime but when conducting a virtual interview, it is important to remember your body language and maintain professionalism at all times.
They can feel more casual than in-person interviews, but it is important to treat virtual interviews in the same way you would if it was taking place in the office.
Virtual interviews mean your body language is restricted largely to your face and shoulders. Your usual body language and gestures will likely be off camera and could be distracting when confined to a small screen.
Sit up straight, don’t slouch, maintain eye contact, look directly at your camera without getting too close – and smile genuinely!
Clarify next steps
Maintain transparency and share what your virtual recruitment process looks like. For some candidates, virtual interviews will be unknown territory so be sure to clarify what happens next if they have been successful at this stage. Will there be another round of interviews? Skills-tests?
In the absence of face-to-face interviews and personal interaction, open channels of communication will help to foster a personal connection between you and the candidate. Remember, this is likely the first interaction they will have with a representative from your company so it is important to get off on the right foot and make a good impression.