For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our working lives upside down. In April 2020 alone, unemployment claims surged by 70%. As candidates looking for work flood the market, businesses that are actively recruiting have turned to virtual interviews as a means of growing their team safely.
What’s the difference between face-to-face and virtual interviews?
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 occur in real-time and are as similar to an in-person interview as possible, it can be challenging to read a person’s body language and pick up on non-verbal cues 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.
With that in mind, here are eight handy tips to ensure an effective virtual interview with your next candidate.
1. Preparation is crucial for a smooth virtual interview
Like any interview, making sure you have fully prepared ahead of time is crucial. Check over a candidate’s CV, research the candidates, review precisely what skills and experience you’re looking for, prepare relevant questions and discuss the role ahead of time with their line manager.
Give your candidates sufficient time to prepare too. This means that everybody will come to the virtual interview as at ease as possible and will present their best self.
2. Test your tech to prevent an awkward situation from arising
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 being as crystal clear as you’d like, make sure the tools you plan 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 beforehand. 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.
3. Make sure the virtual interview is distraction-free
Whether you are conducting an interview from home or in the office, ensure the room you choose is free of distractions, be it people or pets milling around in the background or loud noises from elsewhere on the property.
While many of us continue to work from home, you won’t be able to obliterate every distraction. For example, 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 during the virtual interview.
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 for the duration of the interview to avoid any unwanted distractions.
4. Prepare a compelling culture pitch to deliver during the online interview
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 with one or two members of staff. As a result, they don’t get to experience the office space or meet the 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 business.
5. Ensure your candidate has sufficient time to respond to questions
The thing about virtual interviews is that silences seem a lot longer than in face-to-face meetings. This means that you might feel the need to fill a silence, or a candidate begins to panic if they think they have taken too long to consider a question.
As the interviewer, you must put your candidates at ease so they feel comfortable enough to think through and present the best answer to your questions.
6. Body language is essential when conducting an interview online
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 crucial to treat online interviews the same way you would if held in the office.
Virtual interviews mean your body language is restricted largely to your face and shoulders. Your everyday body language and gestures will likely be off-camera and could be distracting when confined to a small screen, so it’s worth bearing this in mind as much as possible.
Sit up straight, don’t slouch, maintain eye contact, look directly at your camera without getting too close – and smile genuinely!
7. Dress as you would for an in-person interview
It may be tempting to dress a little more casually for an interview that takes place online, but you mustn’t do this. You represent your entire company, so creating a professional atmosphere is essential, especially as it’s the only impression your candidate will have of the business.
8. Clarify next steps
Maintain transparency and share what the rest of your virtual recruitment process looks like. For some candidates, virtual interviews will be unknown territory, so be sure to explain the process and the next steps. For example, will there be another round of interviews? Skills-tests?
Knowing how many stages there are may even help keep a candidate engaged and prevent them from accepting an offer elsewhere. A straightforward, clear interview process and strong employer branding really can make all the difference.
A candidate should leave an interview knowing exactly when they will have an answer, how they will hear, what additional information you may require and anything else essential for the smoothest process.
How Natural HR can help with your virtual interview processes
In the absence of face-to-face interviews and personal interaction, open communication channels have never been so important to foster a personal connection between you and your candidates.
Remember, this is likely the first interaction they will have with a representative from your company, so it is crucial to get off on the right foot and make a good impression.
Our recruitment and applicant tracking software can create a seamless process that improves the HR team’s efficiency and makes a fantastic impression on candidates as you’ll demonstrate a highly organised environment.
The software allows you to minimise time to hire, automate candidate communication and effectively demonstrate your company culture. Why not book a demo or get in touch to discuss how we can help streamline your HR department’s hiring process?