This article is written as part of a 3-part series featuring guest articles from Indeed and Frontier e-HR.
An in-person interview is usually the final step of the recruitment process, but COVID-19 has made many people wary of face-to-face meetings that aren’t absolutely necessary. Conducting in-person interviews are not worth putting employees and candidates alike at risk of contracting COVID-19. As a result, many employers are turning to virtual interviews to complete their recruitment processes virtually.
The following are steps you can take to effectively prepare for a virtual interview:
1. Give the interviewee time to prepare
It’s important to give your candidates time to prepare for the virtual interview rather than scheduling a meeting for the same day. Giving candidates the opportunity to prepare ensures they are confident and at their best when you do hold the interview. This is also a professional courtesy and demonstrates your professionalism and thoughtfulness in terms of the interview process.
2. Develop a standardised rating system
Just like in-person interviews, develop a standardised system to rate each candidate’s qualifications for the position. Use this rating system to keep track of how each candidate performs during the virtual interview process. Once you have completed all virtual interviews, use your rating system to determine the most promising applicants.
3. Choose a quiet and distraction-free location to conduct your interviews
GConduct your virtual interviews in a place that is quiet and free from distractions so you can give your full attention. If you need to conduct your interviews from home, choose a quiet room and let your housemates or family know you will be holding an interview so they can stay as quiet as possible. Your space should have a neutral background so the candidate is not distracted by your environment. Try to keep the environment as professional as possible to mimic the setting of an in-person interview.
4. Prepare for the interview by outlining questions
Prepare questions that you’ll need to ask during the virtual interview. Review the candidate’s information, including their CV, cover letter and any additional documentation they provided. Use this information to develop questions you want to ask related to their specific experience and qualifications. Have a list of several job-related questions that you ask every candidate as part of your standardised rating system.
5. Test your connection
One major difference between in-person interviews and virtual interviews is that virtual interviews are dependent on your and the candidate’s internet connection. With a good connection, you ensure that you don’t miss any part of the interview and that your video is clear. Before the interview, test your connection several times. Make sure your microphone and webcam function correctly. You can also perform a practice interview with a colleague to ensure your technology works.
6. Send the candidate a virtual interview invitation via email
Send each candidate an invitation for the virtual interview to stay organised. The invitation should include the day and time that the interview will be held and all the information needed to access the software you’ll use for the interview. Be very clear about the format of the virtual video interview, so candidates know what is expected of them. For example, if the candidate will need an access code to log in to the interview, list this information in a prominent place in the email. Include how long you anticipate the interview will last and add any additional documentation or information you want the candidate to have to hand during the interview.
How to conduct a virtual interview
Here are steps to take when conducting a virtual interview with a candidate:
1. Dress professionally
Even though you may be conducting the interview from home or another remote location, it’s important to dress professionally to create a businesslike atmosphere. This conveys your commitment to professionalism and shows that you take the interview process seriously even when conducting interviews remotely. This may help a candidate feel more confident about your business.
2. Conduct the virtual interview as you would an in-person interview
Virtual interviews can seem more casual than in-person interviews, but it’s important that you treat remote interviews just as you would those that you hold in your office. Use professional language, including body language, and remain focused. Turn off your phone and computer notifications to avoid distractions. Give the candidate your undivided attention and make direct eye contact by looking at your computer’s camera instead of the screen.
3. Ask your prepared questions
Use the list of questions you prepared to stay on track. For each question, make a note of the candidate’s answer so you can review them later.
4. Give the interviewee time to answer
At times, there may be a lag when using a computer or phone to conduct an interview. To account for this lag, provide the candidate with plenty of time to respond. If the candidate cuts out during their response, ask them to repeat their answer to ensure you hear everything the interviewee has to say.
5. Discuss your company’s culture and values
Holding virtual interviews can make it challenging for candidates to get an idea of what your company culture and office environment are like. Inform each candidate of what they can expect in terms of your company’s culture and the values your company follows. You can also describe the workplace environment to give the interviewee a better idea of what to expect if you hire them.
6. Provide information on what the candidate can expect going forward
At the end of each virtual interview, inform the interviewee of what they can expect going forward. Let them know when you plan to choose a candidate for the position, how you will inform candidates on whether or not they got the job and if you require additional information from the candidate for consideration. You should also let candidates know how your company plans on addressing the coronavirus situation going forward and what candidates can expect throughout the recruitment process.