Running Your Business

How to Conduct a Virtual Interview That’s Successful and Enjoyable

  • Employers will want to prepare ahead of virtual interviews to ensure they go off without a hitch

  • Part of that preparation is ensuring the job candidate has the right software and hardware in place

  • Employers will also want to treat these meetings like in-person interviews by dressing the part and hitting the same talking points

Posted by September 25, 2020

As businesses plan for remote work far into the foreseeable future, virtual interviews are becoming increasingly common. The remote interview provides unique challenges for HR teams. For starters, there are quite a few differences between how you might approach an online versus an in-person interview.

Here are some virtual interview tips that can help your team master these meetings and leave positive impressions on job candidates.

Make It Feel Like an In-Person Interview

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of participants in a survey shared by Human Resource Executive said they preferred in-person interviews over remote interviews. Respondents said they favored in-person interviews because they offer a better way to judge a new job opportunity and truly connect with the interviewer. While online interviews might need to be the course of action for now, they can be more enjoyable and comfortable for candidates when they mimic in-person meetings.

During virtual interviews, spend more time getting to know the candidate and asking about their preferences and ideals. It can be tempting to jump over the niceties and get straight to the task at hand, but try to avoid this temptation. Consider offering a virtual tour of the office and letting the candidate chat with people from the department they’d be joining. This can give them a better feel for the job environment, something they’re missing when they can’t physically visit the office.

The better experience they have online, the more likely candidates are to accept a job offer. And even if they don’t accept the offer, giving them a positive experience can only help boost your reputation as an organization that treats people well—which is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

Overcome Technical Difficulties in Advance

Not every interviewee is going to feel comfortable with videoconferencing. Before the interview, have your IT department reach out to the job candidate to ensure their technology is set up correctly. Tell them what software you’ll be using, and make sure they have the right video equipment. Consider conducting a trial run to ensure their microphone and camera are in working order; in fact, you should also do this yourself. You never know when a software update might have disrupted how your technology is working.

Schedule the interview by email and include a brief outline, detailing who else will be attending, what format the meeting will follow and how long it will last. Have the candidate’s phone number on hand in case you get disconnected and need to reach them right away. Also, be ready to transition the interview to the phone if there are any technical difficulties.

Keep Disruptions Out of the Equation

To ensure your virtual interview goes off without a hitch, minimize any distractions. Choose a quiet room with a plain background that won’t be distracting, and turn off digital notifications. Just as you wouldn’t be disturbed during an in-person interview, you shouldn’t accept disruptions during a virtual interview either. Resist the temptation to check your email or texts. Treat the job candidate with the same level of professionalism as you would in person; this includes dressing professionally and looking at the camera—not yourself—during the interview.

Hosting an online interview doesn’t have to be tough or nerve-wracking. If you prepare ahead of time and treat the virtual interview as seriously as you would an in-person meeting, you and your job candidates will walk away with a positive experience.

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