By the looks of it, the coronavirus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Because of the pandemic and newfound protocols, many businesses are taking their teams remote and relying on technology for certain processes, such as interviews. For some employers, virtual interviews are a whole new world. If you’re one of those employers, don’t stress! I’ve got plenty of virtual interviewing tips to go around.
Virtual interview tips
According to one survey, 86% of organizations are conducting virtual interviews during COVID-19. That’s right, folks: 86%. With the majority of companies taking their interview process virtually, you may decide to hop on the bandwagon and do the same. But before you begin virtually interviewing any candidates, you need to keep a few things in mind. To conduct seamless online interviews and become a virtual interview master, follow these seven tips.
1. Plan ahead
When it comes to online interviews, you may be wondering where do I even start? and how will this all work? Both good questions. As with any other type of interview, you need to plan ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll be unprepared (and nobody wants that).
Before you dive into doing online interviews, do some research and come up with a solid plan on how you will conduct them. Which videoconferencing platform will you use? Who all will be at the virtual interview? How will you communicate your plan to candidates and employees? Obviously, there are a lot of things that go into making a virtual interview seamless.
2. Get your technology in order
Picture this: You sit down at your desk. You have your notes and interview questions prepared. You start the virtual interview with your candidate . . . and BAM! You lose your video connection. What do you do?
The truth is, things don’t always go according to plan, especially when new technology is involved. That’s why it pays off to have a plan B. And a plan C. And so on.
Create a backup plan just in case the unexpected occurs during an online interview. You should have a way to communicate with your candidate if one of you loses connection (e.g., phone call or text). And, you should have a backup videoconferencing platform in case you experience issues.
Also think about how you can troubleshoot technical problems (e.g., using a different web browser). The best way to do this is to . . .
3. Give things a test run
There are a number of things that can go wrong when interviewing a candidate online instead of in-person. To help prevent this, conduct test runs to make sure your virtual interviews go off without a hitch. By practicing and preparing for the worst, you’ll know what issues to look out for and how to steer clear of them altogether.
After you create a plan and decide on a videoconferencing tool, take your virtual interview process for a test drive. Ask a teammate to act as the candidate and practice connecting to the video call. Verify that you can hear and see each other on the call. Consider also working through certain scenarios, like not being able to hear each other.
Giving your technology a test run can help you find glitches and issues and come up with solutions to resolve them. It can also help you spot errors in your virtual interview plan.
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4. Provide candidates with detailed instructions
After you get all of the technological kinks worked out, come up with step-by-step instructions for your candidates to follow for the interview. You want your candidates to know exactly what they need to do and where they need to go (virtually, of course). The last thing you want is to leave your candidates in the dark.
Make your instructions crystal clear and include the following:
- Date and time of the virtual interview
- Names and titles of each person the candidate will meet
- Name of the videoconferencing tool or platform (e.g., Zoom)
- Meeting room details (e.g., if a password is needed)
- Link to the virtual meeting room (if possible)
- Phone number to contact the interviewer
- Any other helpful tips (e.g., works best with Chrome browser)
Your instructions should detail the exact steps the candidate needs to take to access the virtual interview room. Consider having one of your teammates test out the instructions to ensure they’re foolproof.
Send the directions to your candidate a few days before the virtual meeting. That way, they have plenty of time to review the instructions and ask any questions.
5. Choose a distraction-free environment
When it comes to virtual interviews, there are things you have to worry about that you wouldn’t even normally think about during an on-site interview. For instance, think about your environment.
For in-person interviews, you’re probably used to going to a meeting room and taking care of business there. But for a virtual interview, you may have to do a little extra work to ensure your environment is distraction free and professional. If you’re working from home, find a spot in your house that is well lit (so the candidate can actually see your face), quiet, clean, and free of possible interruptions.
6. Be professional
Regardless if you’re interviewing a candidate in-person or via videoconference, you need to be professional and behave how you normally would during any interview.
How you act during your virtual interview will be one of the first impressions a candidate gets of you and your company, so you need to make it count. Dress appropriately. Be welcoming. Smile. Nod to show that you’re listening to what the candidate has to say. And for Pete’s sake, make sure your cell phone ringer is off.
In short, take the online interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview.
7. Practice, practice, practice
Practice makes perfect, right? Right! If you want to conduct a seamless virtual interview, prepare and practice.
To make sure things flow smoothly during your online interviews, practice things like your:
- Introduction (Hello, my name is Mike. Nice to meet you!)
- Pitch about your company (aka why it’s a great place to work)
- Interview questions to ask candidates
You should also consider practicing things like small talk (to help break the ice) and introducing other teammates if it’s a group interview. The more you practice, the smoother your virtual interview will be.
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