As companies around the globe make adjustments to prioritize the health and safety of their employees and communities amid coronavirus, many talent acquisition teams are reassessing how they conduct candidate interviews. In many cases, this means transitioning from in-person interviews to virtual ones.
For some recruiters, video interviews are familiar and their companies have established videoconferencing capabilities. For so many others, this is new and their companies are quickly adapting to new technologies and adjusting traditional ways of doing work.
Whether you’re a video-interviewing veteran or a virtual novice, consider the tips below. The good news is that many of the same approaches and considerations that you bring to in-person candidate interviews will serve you well while conducting video interviews.
1. Set a process for how interviews will be run and communicate clearly and thoroughly with your teammates and candidates
As your policies and procedures change in the face of coronavirus, make sure you and your talent acquisition teammates are all on the same page about how you’re going to conduct interviews moving forward.
If all your job interviews are going to be done by videoconferencing, you should quickly let all candidates know that. Underscore that this is being done to protect their health (and yours).
“One of the most sizable challenges when going remote,” says Darren Murph, head of remote at GitLab, which is 100% remote, “is keeping everyone in the loop in an efficient way. Put concerted effort around systematically documenting important process changes in a central place to minimize confusion and dysfunction.”
After LinkedIn announced that all of our job interviews would go virtual beginning in the second week of March, our talent acquisition team created a shared document where team members from around the world could post questions about the interview process and leadership could post answers and share links to resources.
2. Line up the necessary technology and give it a test run
If you haven’t used videoconferencing tools before, don’t worry. There are a lot of reliable options on the market: Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex Meetings, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Meet are some of the most widely used platforms.
Given the current situation, a number of these tools have been made available for a free test run. Microsoft, for example, is offering a six-month trial of the premium version of Teams, and Google is offering its advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing tool to all users of G Suite and G Suite Education.
To minimize technical hiccups and maximize candidate experience, do a video test run before your interviews. And remember that even if you’ve done video interviews at work, it’s going to be different doing them from your home office or kitchen. Make sure your signal strength is adequate and the camera and microphone both work and are set up so the candidate can easily see and hear you. If you plan on sharing your screen, try that feature and make sure you can use it effortlessly by the time of the actual interview.
3. Put your candidates at ease by sharing expectations, timelines, names of interviewers
During times of high stress and uncertainty, don’t hesitate to overcommunicate. Once your candidates know that their interviews will be done via videoconference — and why — reach out to them and give them a rundown on the details of their interviews, just as you would if they were coming in to talk to people onsite.
Here are some useful things to share:
- Tips on how to access the videoconferencing technology and whether they need to download any software.
- Your team’s expectations for their interviews. For example, will the interviewer request a work sample or ask them to solve a problem on the spot?
- A timeline that details when their interviews will start and end and the names and titles of each person they will meet, along with links to their LinkedIn profiles.
Finally, as an added precaution, give them a backup phone number to reach you in case there’s a glitch or the technology gets wonky. Ask them to share the same with you.
4. Choose a clean, quiet, and well-lit space for your interviews
To reinforce that you’re taking this interview as seriously as you want the candidate to take it, make sure you find a spot that is clean and free of anything distracting in the background. Pick a quiet space that will allow you and your candidate to communicate clearly and, as much as possible, without interruption.
Find a well-lit room and control for outside light. Both too much light coming through the windows or too little can make you difficult to see, and that can get in the way of connecting with your candidate.
5. Practice a compelling (virtual-only) company culture pitch
One of the challenges with video interviews is that your candidates are not going to have a chance to walk around your office space and campus and get a firsthand glimpse of your company culture. To compensate for that, spend extra time preparing a compelling culture pitch. Our head of recruiting, Brendan Browne, says, “There’s a humongous opportunity to differentiate yourself as a recruiter by telling a compelling story,” focusing on your company’s mission and vision and how that ties to the candidate’s values.
To get a little extra support in painting your company’s culture, consider if there are any visual materials you can share with candidates during or after the interview. The chances are you have a library of employee testimonials or social media posts capturing meaningful moments in the day-to-day work life of your employees.
6. Be every bit as professional — and personable — as you would be for an onsite interview
It’s important to signal to every candidate that the video interview they’re about to have is every bit as important and serious as an in-person interview would be. So, dress appropriately and bring your A game. Make sure the ringer is turned off on your phone as are the notifications on your email.
Once the interview starts, remember to smile. Make and sustain eye contact. Speak clearly. Nod when the candidate talks to show that you’re tracking.
And take notes — not only about what the candidate says and how they behave but about the process. Jot down reminders about what is working and what is not.
While you want to be as professional as you would be in any setting, also be forgiving of your candidate if life interrupts the interview. “We’ve asked our interviewers to be even more compassionate and thoughtful,” Brendan says, “if there are kids around or noise in the background.”
If the dog barks or the phone rings, candidates should not be penalized. Life is sometimes hard to contain, particularly when spouses and partners may be working from home and children may have had school cancelled.
7. Follow up with a thank-you note, a request for feedback, and any next steps
After you crush your video interview, you’re not quite finished. Follow up with a thank-you note to the candidate for being adaptable and for giving up their valuable time to speak with your team.
If you haven’t done many video interviews, you might also want to ask the candidate for feedback about the process — How did it go? What worked? What could still use some tweaking? This will give you a chance to elevate your candidate experience from good to great to awesome.
Finally, use your post-interview note to tell your candidate about next steps. Let them know if they’re no longer in consideration or to let them know they’re a finalist (Bravo!) and may still need an additional interview, assessment, or background check.
Final thoughts: Videoconferencing gives you a chance to keep hiring world-class talent
While videoconferencing can be a substantial switch to your recruiting process and may make showcasing your company culture a bit more difficult, it can also be an effective way to keep candidates engaged and move them through the hiring pipeline, quickly and safely. If the technology still seems a bit befuddling, check out these LinkedIn Learning courses that we just made free. They’ll give you the lowdown on how to get the most out of these productivity tools and nail your virtual interviews.
A well-executed video interview allows you to deliver stellar candidate experience by showing the agility, flexibility, and empathy that are the hallmarks of a strong company culture.