There have been many business lessons learned during COVID-19. One is that office space might not be as necessary as many people once thought.
With more companies ditching their offices permanently, you’ve likely noticed that some of your clients have opened up their geographical boundaries when hiring. Without restrictions on physical office locations, companies can now find and hire top talent nationally and internationally. Plus, with stay-at-home orders in place across the globe, you’re probably working from home, too. Both of these trends mean you’re finding yourself conducting more video interviews than you have in your entire recruiting career.
For the time being, and likely for the foreseeable future, you’ll be doing more of these types of interviews. Of course, you want to ensure your video interviews are held as professionally as your in-person interviews. While both have similarities, video interviews come with their own set of unique challenges that you’ll need to expertly navigate. Here are some tips to help you conduct seamless, professional video interviews with candidates.
You might initially think that any video software will do, but you shouldn’t conduct a video interview via FaceTime just because you can. Rather, you should invest in the right software that will meet your needs. You might be surprised at the functionality of some options on the market.
For example, you can choose software that allows for one-way interviews (which are ideal to replace phone screenings) or two-way live interviews (which can replace in-person interviews). When choosing software, there are a few things to check off the list before purchasing: Make sure it’s secure, it’s easy to use for candidates, and that it integrates with your applicant tracking system to make your life easier
If you’re interviewing a candidate tomorrow at 4pm, don’t wait until 3:50pm to hop on the call. You should prepare ahead of time to make sure you don’t run into any technical issues the day of. Download the software in advance and test your audio and video. Video is definitely preferred over an audio-only connection since it can help you connect with the candidate, pick up on non-verbal cues, and even improve your memory of the interview. Also test your connection—make sure to set up your computer where you have a good connection in the home.
Take a video interview as seriously as you would any other in-person interview. Have the candidate’s resume ready to review and go through your interview questions in advance.
After you have several video interviews under your belt, you might feel like an old pro. It might be your candidate’s first time using the software, though. It’s always a good idea to give the candidate the link to the video interview ahead of time, along with instructions for accessing or downloading the software if required. This will give them the time needed to test out their own audio and video and make sure there are no access issues to contend with at the time of the interview. While you’re relaying instructions, make it clear they’ll be on camera and to prepare for both audio and video.
If you’re interviewing an international candidate or one from another state, you’ll also want to confirm the date and time zone to ensure you both show up at the correct time.
Especially if you have back-to-back interviews, it’s a good idea to schedule more time than needed. If your interview is an hour-long, schedule it in your calendar for an hour and 15 minutes. This gives you extra time to account for technical difficulties that may still occur at the beginning (or middle) of the interview. After all, things can still go wrong even if you and the candidate have tested the connection the day before.
By giving yourself some cushion time, you won’t be leaving the next candidate waiting on a video call alone at the scheduled time if the first interview happens to go longer than expected. Extra padding also allows for bathroom breaks and gives you time to compile notes after an interview (and, of course, get your next cup of coffee).
Aside from a good connection, you’ll want to make sure the area you set up in has good lighting. If not, bring in some extra lamps or open the shades. You’ll want to play around with the location of your computer to prevent glare as well. What’s more, the room you set up in should also be relatively quiet. Background noise can be a disruption and make it more difficult for you to hear and be heard.
You may be at home, but that doesn’t mean you should be wearing pajama pants under that blazer. Treat video interviews like any other—you’ll still be on display, and first impressions still count. Dress and act professionally on camera. After all, you expect it from the candidate, and you should expect it from yourself, too. Plus, when you look professional and presentable, it makes you feel more prepared and confident, too.
As a seasoned professional you know not to hire based on bias. However, you might not realize that video interviewing can create subconscious bias. This is because you’ll see more of the candidate’s home life in the background. You might see religious symbols or hear children in the background. Be mindful of this.
Pro tip: for those using Zoom you can turn on a virtual background to eliminate background distractions. Choose a professional setting (not the beach) for a background. Video interviewing may just be the future of recruiting. As you begin conducting more and more of these types of interviews, it pays to know and implement best practices. Getting the right software for your needs, preparing ahead of time, preparing the candidate, setting up a good schedule and location, and being aware of background bias are all great tips to follow for your next video interview.
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