Tips for carrying out effective virtual interviews

Tips for carrying out effective virtual interviews

More and more employers are taking advantage of the widened talent pool that remote and digital hiring opens up. It means that you can hire from anywhere in the world, and meet new and diverse candidates.

For candidates, offering virtual interviews means they are able to expand their horizons and apply for positions without the worry of travel, or even the worry of moving to be closer to work if the position is a remote one.

As digital hiring processes are adopted by employers across the UK and beyond, virtual interviews are becoming increasingly widespread.

For employers, this means that many of the logistical headaches attached to conducting interviews such as ensuring the right, high-level people are in the same room for the whole day, booking and paying for interview rooms, as well as managing access needs, providing refreshments, and ensuring candidates are directed to the right place all adds up to a time-consuming process – and that’s before any candidates have even entered the building.

Instead, virtual interviews can be a time-saving, more easily managed alternative. But how can you get the measure of a person through only meeting them virtually? And how can you ensure that your virtual interview conveys your company’s culture and personality effectively?

To answer those question, here are our tips for conducting an effective virtual interview.

Be on top of your technology

The most important part of conducting a virtual interview is making sure that the tech is working.

As the bedrock of a virtual interview, a stable internet connection is vital. Without this, you’re not going to be able to conduct the interview properly, as you’ll be too busy worrying about whether you’ve frozen, or struggling to understand what others are saying.

In advance of the interview, make sure that you and all the panellists are familiar with the platform you’re using, that everyone has tested their cameras and microphones, and that they know how to use the different functions. For example, if there’s a waiting room feature, make sure you’ve practiced admitting people onto the call, and you know that it’s definitely working before interviewees will be joining.

Lastly, just before the interview, make sure your device is free of virtual clutter in case you need to share your screen. This means closing unnecessary browser tabs, muting chat apps like Slack or Discord, and ensuring that anything you need to share is ready to go.

Communicate thoroughly beforehand

Just as you would with an in-person interview, make sure that you’ve given clear instructions to candidates about how exactly they can attend.

This means not only providing a specific date and time, but also ensuring you provide clear instructions and information to interviewees about the platform the interview will take place on, including links to the call and whether they will need to download an app or if they can access via their browser.

Like any other interview, it’s also courteous to let interviewees know who will be attending the interview as a panellist, how long you expect it to last, details on anything they’re required to prepare in advance, and whether they’ll be expected to carry out any performance based tasks.

After the interview, make sure you follow up with candidates by telling them when they can expect to know the outcome of the interview, and thanking them for their time.

Be aware of access needs

With video interviews, you can make the process more inclusive – for example, candidates with physical impairments can participate without bias, neurodivergent candidates can manage their own environment to give their best, and candidates from lower-income households don’t need to worry quite so much about travel expenses or looking the part in an expensive suit.

However, other access requirements that perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue with an in-person interview can come to light. For example, some candidates might require live captioning or transcribing (there are plenty of AI options that provide this), BSL interpretation in case lip reading or digital sound is more difficult to understand virtually, or a platform that is compatible with screen readers.

Ensure you ask candidates about any access requirements they may have in plenty of time prior to the interview, so they can be organised in advance.

Be mindful of environment

For virtual interviews, you can only control your own environment, not that of the candidate.

For your environment, try to avoid using a virtual background, which can be distracting and can often feel like an evasion or a way of hiding something, which can give the impression that you’re not willing to engage or invite the interviewee into your world. Instead, try to position yourself in front of a clutter-free but interesting background – a bookcase or a painting are popular choices.

Think carefully about lighting, camera position, and screen position. If you’re using multiple monitors, make sure your webcam is positioned on the screen you’ll be displaying the video call.

Another useful tip is to turn off your self-view on the screen once you’re certain your environment and position gives the right impression. This will help you to focus more on the candidate instead of being distracted by your own image and worrying about how you’re appearing.

For candidates, they might not have access to a quiet or clutter-free space in which to carry out the interview, so it’s important to be patient, try not to let their environment distract you, and concentrate on what they’re saying and their body language. It’d be a shame to miss out on a truly brilliant new employee simply because they had noisy neighbours or their flatmate accidentally walked into shot.

How can Reed Screening help?

With over 60 years of experience in recruitment, and over 10 years’ experience as screening specialists, Reed Screening is ideally placed to advise your organisation on the best way to ensure that your digital recruitment processes are beneficial to your company’s performance.

At Reed Screening, we’re dedicated to making the recruitment journey as smooth as possible for both employers and candidates, to help our clients source and retain the talent they need. Speak to our team today to find out how we can streamline and enhance your recruitment journey and boost performance in 2023.