Social distancing has meant that holding interviews isn’t always easy. A lot of companies have had to get a little more creative when it comes to recruitment, and hold video or phone based interviews. They’ve had to find a delicate balance between keeping everyone safe and really getting to know the candidates.
As a potential employee, it’s important to prepare for a digital interview, but it’s equally as important for employers to consider what an online interview entails. While a lot of the considerations will be the same as in-person interviews, there are a few additional things to think about.
You don’t just need a good internet connection to host an online interview (though that’s also essential). You’ll additionally need the appropriate software, whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet, Skype for Business, or any number of options available on the market. It’s a good idea to test a few out beforehand, to find the best fit, and ensure that you’re well practiced in using the technology. If you need to share your screen, for instance, make sure you’re confident about how to do it.
As well as the video software, it’s also important to test your other conferencing equipment, such as your camera, microphone and speakers. In between each call, just make sure these things are performing optimally, and have back-up options just in case anything goes wrong.
Usually, an interview confirmation email or call would include instructions on how to reach the company’s offices. With a video interview, it can be helpful to prepare the candidate ahead of time as to what the interview will entail.
Let the candidate know which software you’ll be using, and confirm the time of the interview, as well as a timeline of the meeting should it be a more complex interview. Conference calls will often mean you’ll need to let the candidate know the names and positions of the other people in the call. And if it’s a phone interview, it’s not a bad idea to clarify who will be calling who.
It’s not just the candidate who needs to sit in a room free of distractions. A busy background can be off putting, which wouldn’t be fair to the person you’re interviewing. Make sure that there isn’t anything inappropriate or distracting behind you - try to sit in front of a plain coloured wall if possible.
You’ll also need to be somewhere relatively quiet. The sound quality of any digital call will never be quite the same as chatting with someone in person, so aim for a room with little background noise, and where you won’t be interrupted.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of things that won’t change, whether you’re interviewing someone remotely or in the same room. For example it’s always important to be professional - maintain eye contact and show each candidate that they have your full attention. A lot of people are more nervous when they're essentially talking to a screen, so do your best to put them at ease.
Your dress code, tone and body language should also be considered with a digital interview - don’t relax just because you’re not meeting someone in person. Try to conduct online interviews the same way you would a face-to-face interview.
There are a huge number of benefits to online interviews. Not only do they allow more flexibility (the candidate doesn't even have to be in the same country, let alone the same room), digital interviews can also reduce the time it takes to hire the successful candidate. You can eliminate scheduling difficulties, and only invest time in the best candidates. It’s also less awkward to bring a bad interview to a close early when video conferencing.
We’re not advocating for everyone to move to digital interviewing permanently, but especially during these challenging times, it’s a great option. And perhaps moving forward, more companies will consider a mixture of online and face-to-face interviews, depending on the needs of the candidate and the business.