As remote working has become the new normal over the last couple of weeks, employers are turning to video interviews to ensure they are able to best select new employees for their organisation.
Although you may have conducted a video interview before, chances are you didn’t have to do it remotely from your home.
We speak with hundreds of candidates every day, and although we have a detailed video interview blog post that we send to our candidates to read before video interviewing with our clients, we occasionally receive feedback that the same care that we ask of our candidates during video interviews isn’t reciprocated by employers.
Video interviews are a near-perfect replication of the in-person interview experience:
Without being in the same room as the person, you can see how the candidate looks, acts, reacts and gauge their personality more than a phone call.
Although it may appear like there’s less pressure than an in-person interview, as you’re not physically meeting the person, there are still a number of things that could go wrong behind the scenes.
The backdrop of your interview is messy. The sound is garbled. A housemate, family member or partner interrupts your video interview.
Whilst it may feel like these are forgivable offences, the reality is an interview is a two-way street.
As much as you’re evaluating the competency of your candidate, they’re also evaluating you as an employer.
Instead of leaving you to figure out how to conduct a video interview on your own, we had asked our recruitment consultants to share some of their top tips on how employers can best present themselves and their company during a video interview.
Here’s what they had to say:
First impressions still matter
As you would for any meeting with external guests, dress according to your organisation’s dress code. As many businesses nowadays have ‘Casual Friday,’ ensure that you either dress as you would any other day of the week or change before the interview.
Don’t skip the small talk
In an in-person interview context, you’ll generally have some small talk with your candidate as you lead them into the interview room or when you first join them in the interview room.
Recreate this experience in the video call.
As candidates may not have regular catch-ups on video chat, they may be more shy, insecure or nervous on video as many people feel being on camera. This is not reflective of their abilities or skill set, and it’s your responsibility as the interviewer to make this set-up as natural as possible.
Take the time to ask the candidate how their morning was or how they’re doing. Keep it under 5 minutes to respect the candidate’s time, but long enough to make the candidate feel more confident and relaxed.
If you’d like the candidate to video chat with anyone else once you two have wrapped up, be sure to let them know beforehand so they aren’t surprised at the end of the interview.
Find a quiet and clean space
Just as you would for an in-person interview, find a quiet space that will enable you and your candidate to focus on the discussion you’re having and take the time to clean the space beforehand.
As we mentioned before, this is also an opportunity for a candidate to evaluate your company.
If you’ve had an incredibly busy week and your desk is covered in paperwork, you may not come across as busy but disorganised.
Not only does this also show a lack of professionalism and respect by not taking the time to clean your desk or, at the very least, hide the mess out of frame, but it may be a red flag to your candidate as they won’t want to join a chaotic work environment.
Double check the Internet
It’s one of those logistical issues that can go wrong very quickly. Double-check your Internet connection to make sure that the video won’t slow or there won’t be any interruptions in your video interview. You can access Google’s Internet speed test here.
This is particularly important if you are planning to conduct the video interview in a different room or on a different computer or laptop then you normally would.
Also, test your phone’s hotspot to ensure you have a back-up in case your video cuts out for whatever reason.
Check your devices
Similarly to testing the Internet, make sure that:
- You have enough battery for the interview;
- Your mic is working;
- Your mute is working;
- Your camera is working;
- Your phone tripod/prop won’t fall over (although we recommend using a laptop or desktop computer);
- You have sent your candidate the link and any relevant information for your organisation’s video conferencing system of choice;
- You have a professional username; and
- You are able to log in to the video conferencing system at least 10 minutes before the scheduled video interview to minimise delays.
Get rid of distractions
It’s easy to get distracted. So, eliminate them beforehand!
This could mean:
- Closing the windows to keep out street noise;
- Closing your office door;
- Posting a note to your office door to ensure your housemates, partner and/or family don’t disturb you;
- Booking the allotted video interview time in your calendar so your team knows not to disturb you;
- Sending an email reminder to your team and fellow management to not disturb you until the scheduled video interview end time,
- Placing your phone in another room or, at least, away from your desk (the typical mobile phone user touches their phone 2,617 times per day, according to dscout);
- Setting your phone to aeroplane mode is on (if you’re interviewing on a laptop/computer);
- Closing all browser tabs that are not directly relevant to the video interview; and
- Turning off email and calendar notifications on the device you’re using to conduct the video interview.
- You may also want to hire a babysitter or ask a friend/your partner to entertain your kids or to take the dog for a walk to ensure no background noise or interruptions.
Lights, camera, action!
It’s not quite Hollywood, but make sure that you have good lighting and sound during your video interview.
After all, 55 per cent of all communication is non-verbal and your candidate will need to see and hear you properly to best answer your questions and build rapport with you.
All in-person interview advice still goes
Your body language, speech speed, role research and interview question preparation are still integral to finding the right person for your organisation. So, even if everything you do behind the scenes (as listed above) goes well, if you’re not well prepared, you won’t find the employee your business needs.
Take the time to do your due diligence before going into the job interview, including preparing appropriate questions, and building rapport with your candidate during the video interview itself.
Even though you’re not in a room together, doesn’t mean that you can’t get to know them more as a person.
With that said, sometimes innocuous questions may be perceived as discriminatory, so please be mindful that you aren’t asking them any of these common illegal interview questions.
Finally, the most important tip of all is to be present in the video interview. We touched on this before when we said to get rid of all distractions – and we meant it.
The worst thing you can do as an interviewer is to allow your attention to wander off to, say, your phone or your emails.
Candidates know when you’re not listening, and if they notice that you’re not completely present in the interview, it will leave a taste of bad employer branding in their mouth when they finish up with you.
Be sure to remain engaged throughout the video interview.
One of the best ways to do this is through active listening. We’ve put together an entire blog post on how to use active listening to be a better interviewer, which you can read here.
It’s an imperative step to ensure you’re starting your relationships off with your future potential employee on the right foot, and active listening is the key to doing this.
Meet the team
Once you’ve completed your interview with your potential new hire and are interested in bringing them onboard, try to organise a time with them so they can meet the team they’d be working in and any key stakeholders they would need to meet before joining your organisation.
As most of us are now working remotely, try to organise virtual after-work drinks, a virtual team lunch or a 15-minute minute between them and 2-3 people on their potential team. Ask your team to prepare one question each to ensure they have something to talk about and leave them to it!
Although many employers are looking for someone to fit into their company culture, we encourage you to try to find someone who will be a cultural contributor, where an individual shares the same values and objectives as your organisation, but they bring a different perspective, attitude, skill or training to the table.
To learn more about how to move away from hiring a culture fit for your business, click here.
Those are our tips on how to prepare for a video interview.
To ensure you’re fully prepared, as an interviewer, be sure to check out our blog post about why successful companies are switching to competency-based hiring to find and retain the high-quality talent their business requires.
On a separate note, if your remote video interview went well and you’ve now hired a new employee, we’ve also created a free remote worker onboarding and induction process, which includes useful templates to help you ensure your new employee is welcomed into your organisation.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your recruitment consultant should you require any assistance along your recruitment journey. Best of luck with your remote video interviews!