As we adjust to a new “normal,” businesses’ needs and demands will continue to grow. In the business world, the show must go on, and for some businesses, delaying hiring efforts until after the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved is not a viable option.
With nearly all of Americans impacted by a shelter in place order, businesses have shifted away from face-to-face interviews and are using phone calls and virtual interviews to screen candidates.
Phone calls are great for a discovery interview, but there is only so much information that can be gleaned from this screening method. To truly vet a candidate, it is important to be able to sit down and have a conversation with them one-on-one. Today, video conferencing software and virtual interviews serve as a safe digital alternative to traditional face-to-face interviews.
Many people have never conducted a virtual interview, so it is natural to have questions on the platform’s best practices.
Below are 7 pointers on how to conduct a successful virtual interview:
1. Free Tools to Use
Because of the ease of use and convenience, many businesses are finding that virtual interviews are a great tool to speed up your interview process!
If you have Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Teams can be used for video conferencing. By selecting the calendar tab and following the prompts under the “Meet Now” button, you can invite members of your team to a video conference or schedule one for the future.
Another popular option is Zoom Conferencing. Although this program does require payment to access its full capabilities, there is a limited version of the program that is free to use. After creating an account, you can select the meeting icon and schedule your video call.
Once you have completed all the steps, you will be given a virtual meeting room code. Simply copy and paste the meeting details into the body of your email or calendar invite, and you are all set.
Regardless of which side of the table you sit on in an interview, this is new territory for all of us and we are learning together.
2. Do a Practice Run
By now, we’ve all heard at least one horror story about user errors in video conferencing. When it comes to maintaining your professionalism, it is very important that you log on to the platform before your meeting to acclimate yourself with the virtual space and test your video and audio equipment.
An interview uninterrupted by technical difficulties is key to ensuring your message will be heard.
3. Find a Clean Space
A background full of clutter can make for a distracting (and unprofessional) interview. Make sure there is good lighting in your home office and your camera is free from any glares or fingerprint marks. Where possible, find a quiet space with a clean, solid backdrop as opposed to a shot that looks out over your living room or kitchen.
4. How to Present Yourself for the Interview
When someone is not in the room with you, it is easy to lose sight of the formal nature of an interview. Even though you are not face-to-face, it is still imperative as an employer you are presenting yourself the same way you would as if an applicant were coming into the office.
Dress up for the call, do your hair and look presentable. Just because you are not in the physical building doesn’t mean you aren’t representing your employer or yourself.
5. Have an Outline
Regardless of the tools used to interview, it is always important to be prepared. Make sure to have your interview outlined ahead of time and have the questions you wish to ask an applicant lined up. Additionally, take some time to paint a picture of your management style, the personalities on your team, the dynamic of your company’s culture, amenities and more. If your applicant is prepared and serious about your position, they will ask you about these things.
Applicants are interviewing to try to better understand what it is like to work at your company, so it is important to paint that picture as best you can on your virtual interview.
6. Make Eye Contact
If you are not used to it, the thought of being in front of a camera can be intimidating. Even if you are in unfamiliar territory when interviewing virtually, it is important to appear relaxed and personable to the applicant on the other end of the video call. This means making eye contact with your applicant.
Depending on your device, this can sometimes mean you’re looking at a camera lens and not where the person’s eyes are on screen. Although it may feel awkward, it is important to take note of what looks natural when you are testing out your equipment.
During a face-to-face interview, you might look at their resume and take notes, but for a virtual interview, it is important that you look at the screen as much as possible.
7. Be Understanding
The shelter in place orders precipitated by the COVID-19 virus have reshaped the interview landscape. This is new territory for all of us, and we are learning together. Regardless of which side of the table you sit on in an interview, it is important to be patient and understanding of others if they are having technical issues.
Similarly, it is also imperative to understand that someone’s eye contact, facial reactions, hand movements, etc. may be off on a virtual interview because they are still trying to figure out the sweet spot for their camera’s position, or there is a delay due to slower internet speeds.
By acting naturally and framing the interview as a conversation, they will start to warm up by the end of the call and show you who they really are and where they can bring value to your team.
Good luck and happy interviewing!