Video interviews are a great way to connect with candidates who are planning to relocate to a new city, who are unable to travel for an interview or simply as a way to make contact on shorter notice than an in-person interview allows for. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while many offices are closed and employees are working from home, video interviews have all but replaced in-person interviews. A survey in late April 2020 found that 86% of organizations were conducting interviews remotely.
Of course, with most organizations primarily conducting in-person interviews prior to this sudden change, the transition has not been an easy one. Virtual interviews have their own etiquette and social conventions just as in-person interviews do.
With the extra challenges that come with conducting interviews virtually, you need to nail the tiny details to set your job candidates at ease and find the perfect person for the job. Here are seven tips to help your remote interviews go off without a hitch.
Get your technology set up before the interview starts
Setting up a web-cam or dealing with shoddy internet distracts from the interview process and is rude to your interviewee. Some accidents are inevitable, of course, but to ensure the process goes smoothly, set up all necessary equipment and technology before the interview. If you don’t often conduct remote interviews, it’s also a good idea to have a quick trial run with a colleague first, to make sure that everything will work as planned.
Prepare some questions in advance
It is very easy to lose your train of thought while participating in a video call. Many people deal with heightened nerves from this type of interview since meeting in-person naturally allows for a more relaxed interaction. With this in mind, it can be a challenge to remember the interview questions that were clear in our mind before we sat down to speak with someone. The best way to counteract this problem is to make a list of questions or discussion topics in advance. That way, if you lose your train of thought or become disoriented, you can refer back to your notes to reorient yourself. Try to avoid relying too heavily on notes if possible, but having a list of questions to refer to as a backup plan is a good idea.
Make a human connection
When conducting a remote interview, it can be tempting to skip past the pleasantries that occur during nearly all of our face-to-face interactions. But small talk and relaxed introductions set candidates at ease and dispel the nerves that might be elevated by the extra difficulties of a video interview. Don’t force it-- just try to establish a genuine connection with the person you’re speaking with, the same way you would if you’d just met them in-person.
Use your facial expressions to show attentiveness
It can be difficult to pick up on small changes in tone of voice or mood via video. Those things may seem unimportant, but they are actually vital components of clear communication and therefore a successful interview.
Remember the number one rule of body language etiquette for video calls: look primarily into your webcam, not at your own image on the screen. Looking into the webcam gives the illusion of eye contact and helps make your interviewee more comfortable. Make sure any visual cues you’re giving, like hand gestures, are clearly visible within the video frame. And lastly, use your own facial expressions and body language to show you are listening attentively.
Ask follow up questions and clarifications
One of the greatest challenges in replicating the in-person interview experience virtually is making sure the candidate doesn’t feel like they’re simply answering a list of questions. Some conversational nuances are lost when an interview is conducted virtually, and if a candidate gets the sense that their answers aren’t met with attention, they can become more nervous or uncomfortable.
To give a virtual interview some of the conversational sense of an in-person interview, ask follow-up questions when the candidate answers questions. You can also comment on or react to certain portions of their answer. Regardless, the point is to show, with your further questions and comments, that you are engaged and listening closely to their answers.
Interrupting is always somewhat impolite, but it can be a natural byproduct of an engaging back-and-forth or speaking with someone you connect well with. Still, try to avoid interrupting during a virtual interview as much as possible. It can be difficult to hear when another person is trying to get your attention over video or phone, so interruptions often result in awkward pauses or overlapping speech.
Because accidental interruptions happen more often when conversing virtually, pay close attention to your candidate’s cues that indicate when they are pausing or finishing speaking.
Be empathetic and forgiving
This goes for both yourself and the candidate you’re interviewing. Conducting virtual interviews can be a messy process, with unexpected interruptions, technology failures, and awkward moments. It will be easier if you prepare to the best of your ability, and then let go of any hiccups that occur. Try to keep in mind that being interviewed virtually is also stressful in its own way, and be gracious with mistakes.
With these tips for remote interview etiquette, you’ll set your interviewees at ease and appear confident and professional.
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