Best Practices for Virtual Interviews


An in-person interview is usually the final step of the hiring 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 hiring processes virtually. Conducting virtual interviews ensures your hiring efforts don’t suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Why should you consider virtual interviews?

Conducting virtual interviews follows social distancing policies, which are recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19. The goal of limiting in-person contact with others is to “flatten the curve,” or slow the rate of infections so that health care facilities can adequately provide for those who are ill. By holding virtual interviews, you can contribute to the reduction of the spreading of COVID-19 and keep you, your employees, and the candidate safe.

Another reason to consider holding virtual interviews is to ensure you meet with all candidates, especially those who have excellent qualifications. Some individuals may be hesitant to attend an in-person interview and pass on or postpone the interview. This can result in you missing out on an ideal candidate.


Benefits of holding virtual interviews over in-person interviews

The primary benefit of holding a virtual interview during this time is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep yourself, your employees and potential candidates safe. However, there are other benefits that come with conducting interviews virtually. Virtual interviews are a convenient interview method because they require much less preparation for both the interviewee and the interviewer. Holding virtual interviews can help candidates feel more comfortable, allowing them to offer more natural answers. Virtual interviewing allows you to accommodate a variety of schedules. For example, if a candidate currently has a full-time job, they may be unable to travel to your workplace for an interview during normal working hours. Virtual interviews can allow you to speak with candidates all over the world. This is especially important if you are looking to hire for remote positions or a position that is not in your home office.


How to prepare for a virtual interview

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 with in-person interviews, develop a standardised system in which you 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

Conduct your virtual interviews in a place that is quiet and free from distractions to give your full attention. If you need to conduct your interviews from home, choose a quiet room and let your housemates 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 you need to ask during the virtual interview. Review the candidate’s information, including their resume, 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 lasting and add any additional documentation or information you want the candidate to have on 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 you conduct, 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 hiring process.


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