Virtual job interviewing

In many ways, working during coronavirus feels like a bad dystopian movie plot. Human interaction is forbidden and “all the old ways are gone” (cue John Williams soundtrack). But, what if (spoiler alert) some of the “old ways” are gone because they weren’t that great to start with.   

Case in point: One of the workplace’s most praised rituals—the in-person job interview. Making candidates don their best attire and come into your office is a long-standing tradition. But, when organizations try virtual job interviews, they’re often surprised at how easy and effective they are. 

Advantages for organizations and candidates   

With the advent of easy and affordable video conferencing technology, virtual interviews provide most of the benefits of in-person interviews with less complexity.

Virtual interviews are:

  • Easy to setup: Coordinating times is easier when participants can take calls from any location or time zone.
  • Sharable and comparable: Virtual meetings can be recorded, transcribed, shared, and compared easily—increasing opportunities for team involvement and fairness in hiring decisions. 
  • Less stressful for the candidates: Applicants can do the interview from a familiar environment without worrying about transportation issues and other logistics—allowing them to focus on the interview itself.
  • Attractive to passive candidates: Passive candidates—who may not have space for the in-person interview rigamarole—are more likely to say “yes” to the more convenient online interview.
  • Cost-effective: Bringing out-of-town candidates to your office (when you can do that again) is expensive. Virtual interviews make it unnecessary.

Tips for making virtual interviews successful

Conducting an online interview is pretty similar to conducting an in-person interview, with a few slight adjustments. Check out the following tips to help your virtual interview go smoothly.

Before the interview:

  • Don’t skimp on preparation: Just because this interview is online doesn’t mean you can wing it. Create an interview plan, review the candidate’s qualifications in advance, etc. 
  • Let the candidate know what to expect: Give the candidate information they need to be successful during the interview—from how to download/use the meeting software to how the interview process will work. 
  • Test the tech: Set up the technology in advance and then test it again before the interview. Make sure you know how to use all the features and functions.
  • Plan for glitches: We’ve all been in the situation when the technology goes on the fritz right in the middle of an important meeting. Avoid wasted time and panic, by having a backup plan (like a non-video conference line) in place and share that plan with the candidate.

During the interview:

  • Minimize the number of interviewers: Having a large panel of interviewers can get chaotic on a screen. Limit the number of people who talk to the candidate (even if others are listening). 
  • Stay focused: Just because you’re not in the room with the candidate doesn’t mean you can multitask or allow interruptions. Be sure to be in a quiet professional environment.
  • Try to keep eye contact: Candidates can’t tell what you’re doing if you’re looking down at your notes or looking at another person in the room. Put reference materials (i.e., resumes, notes, interview questions) near to the camera, so you look at them without breaking eye contact for too long.
  • Give the candidate extra time to respond: Online lag times can sometimes make it seem like the candidate is taking longer than normal to respond. Be sure to allow for lag time before asking a follow-up question.
  • Tell the candidate what’s next: At the end of the call, make sure the candidate is clear on what to expect going forward and how you will communicate with them (e.g., email, text, phone call, video chat) in the future.

The future (of interviewing) is now

Although Coronavirus does seem dystopian at times (it’s Contagion, right?), it’s forcing many organizations to try tradition-busting processes for the first time. Not all of these tactics will work, but virtual interviews might be here to stay. 

At Salo, match consultants in finance, accounting, and HR with the organizations that need their expertise. That means we facilitate hundreds of job interviews each year. Let us know if we can help your organization with its next challenge.