How to Conduct an Effective Virtual Interview
Virtual interviews have been the norm for over a year now with companies benefitting from a globalized candidate pool and travel cost savings. An Indeed poll of employers found an overwhelming prediction that an increase in virtual interviewing will be the most common workplace change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many employers acknowledge the benefits of virtual interviews, some express concerns that they limit the ability to evaluate performance, pose equipment challenges for hiring managers, and don’t allow candidates to get a feel for the job environment.
Over 16% of job offers post-interview are rejected in Canada. We may think salary, benefits, location, or flexibility are the only deal breakers influencing a decline. However, Glassdoor found that the interview experience itself has a significant impact on the decision. You can reach more quality candidates at a lower cost and improve job acceptance rates by conducting effective virtual interviews. Taking these actions before, during and after interviews will both enhance candidate experience and address those key concerns among employers.
Key actions to take before the interview
When your pipeline is full of quality candidates, your scheduling process is painless, and everyone involved is prepared, the interviews themselves can be a breeze. Start here.
- Source quality candidates by writing engaging job descriptions. Make sure the information is correct, relevant, and consistent across all hiring channels, such as third-party sites and career pages.
- Simplify screening with automated assessments that check for basic qualifications, measure skills objectively, and ignore demographics (like age, gender, race, and spelling of names) that can cause great candidates to be overlooked due to unconscious bias.
- Use trusted technology for seamless scheduling. Interview scheduling and rescheduling is frustrating for recruiters and candidates. According to one study, 37% of recruiters say this is what challenges their candidate experience the most. The right tool will ensure no back and forth is needed.
- Prepare your candidates by creating a resource that covers common virtual roadblocks and answers FAQs. For example, Audible created a video that’s instructive, encouraging, and shows awareness that candidates may be nervous with this new format. Additionally, Salesforce’s blog offers advice candidates can apply to a virtual interview with any company. When polling candidates in Canada who received detailed information prior to their interview, but were not selected to move forward in the process, Indeed found that 66% rated the interview as very good or excellent.1 Thus, this best practice helps everyone have a positive experience, even those who ultimately aren’t selected for the role.
- Be ready for the interview. In addition to normal interview prep (like reviewing the candidate’s resume and noting key questions for the position), you’ll also need to test your virtual setup. Those who object to virtual interviews are often struggling with a lack of equipment such as reliable internet or a webcam. Make sure you know what equipment is available to you, how to operate it, and who to contact if you have issues. For best results, work with your team to create a central internal resource so virtual interviewing styles are consistent. It should cover equipment prep, troubleshooting, dress expectations, general best practices and reminders.
Key actions to take during the Interview
Although in-person office tours may be less common with the advent of virtual interviews, when done correctly, they can still be informative, engaging, and showcase your company culture.
- Acknowledge that virtual interviewing is going to be a different experience. Instead of copying and pasting your routine into a virtual world, use the change as an opportunity to look at this stage in a new light and make improvements to your candidate experience.
- Update your typical interview script to include a few unique questions – not to throw the candidate off, but to replace natural banter that would occur in the office. For example, to assess creativity and self-awareness, Bryan Chaney, Indeed’s Director of Employer Brand, recommends asking, “What’s one experience that’s not on your resume or CV that would help you be successful in this role?” Achieve that conversational feel by truly listening to responses and follow-uping up with questions, and comments.
- Reconsider your interview performance evaluations. The environment has changed, but you can still use video interviews as a proxy for performance. Look at each performance indicator you measure, and consider how it would translate virtually. For example, the type of candidate who arrives to an in-person interview early and prepared is now the one who enters a video call clearly having read directions, tested their virtual equipment, researched the company and position, and secured an optimal space for their interview.
- Be courteous of speaking over one another or having too-long silences with these tips:
- Mute yourself while the candidate is speaking and unmute when you’re ready to chime in. This action provides a natural pause for the speaker to continue if they’re not done.
- Narrate what you’re doing, whether that’s writing down notes, referencing information, or thinking about how to phrase your thoughts. With video calls, we can’t always see why a person isn’t speaking.
- Put the candidate at ease by forgiving minor distractions. You should, of course, conduct interviews from a quiet space. But things happen, so if your dog barks at a passing squirrel or the apartment next door is doing renovations, it’s okay to laugh it off and let the candidate know what’s going on. This reassures them that you understand if something beyond their control occurs during the interview.
- Take engagement up a notch to compensate for losing a lot of the non-verbal cues we rely on during in-person interactions:
- Look into the camera to mimic eye contact as much as possible (not at the images on your computer screen).
- Be aware of your facial expressions: Smile, nod, and laugh when appropriate.
- Use employee experience to illustrate the work environment and company culture. Share stories about your company culture including how it will change or enhance once people return post-pandemic. You can refer candidates to videos or social media posts that highlight the company culture and team dynamics. If the position will always be remote, let candidates know how the company plans to keep teams engaged, and how that’s worked for you. For example, Arcadia’s guide for candidates shares that employees are organizing virtual lunches and passing photos of their furry friends along in Slack to foster connection.
To help candidates better envision what it’s like to work for the company, include others in the process. Indeed recently found that 30% of job seekers in Canada say that “Interviews with the hiring manager and other potential teammates provide me with good insight into the team dynamics and company culture.”2 Set up individual interviews with multiple team members and leadership to help them get a sense of the working environment.
Key actions to take after the Interview
With interviews complete, technically just a decision and the sharing of good news remains… but there are still a few things you can do here to go above and beyond.
- Get internal feedback by allowing hiring managers, team members, and leadership to participate in the process then checking in with all involved. This promotes collaboration and transparency.
- Always follow up. Indeed found that 33% of job seekers in Canada say contacting candidates post-interview is the most overlooked part of the hiring process.3 Respect the time each candidate gave to their interview and make sure they hear from you, whether they got the job or not.
- Ask for feedback from every candidate – those who are hired, those who aren’t, those who accept an offer, and those who do not. According to Indeed data, only 21% of job seekers in Canada say they’re asked for feedback post interview.4 Stand out from the crowd and use responses to continuously enhance the process, honing in on what makes your candidate experience an exceptional one.
Virtual Interviews & Employer Brand
Conducting effective virtual interviews improves your candidate experience, which can strengthen your employer brand and fill your candidate pipeline. Indeed recently found that 22% of job seekers in Canada say they’d post a positive review on a job site like Glassdoor or Indeed Company Pages if they had a good experience with a company.2 Plus, 60% of the same job seekers say they’d tell their personal network about the experience.2
The reverse is true, too. After having a negative experience with a company, 82% of job seekers in Canada would share their experiences by leaving a negative review on a third-party review site (18%) or social media profile (10%) and telling their personal network about the experience (54%).2
With an action plan in place, recruiters are able to enjoy the benefits of virtual interviewing while addressing key concerns. Once interview performance evaluations are reconsidered, virtual interviewing equipment is secured, and a method for engaging candidates virtually is established, effective virtual interviews can be conducted. Applying the additional actions outlined here can take an organization’s virtual interviewing process from good to exceptional, contributing to a positive candidate experience and strengthened employer brand.
1 Indeed survey, n=141
2Indeed survey, n=1,000
3 Indeed survey, n=1,300
4 Indeed survey, n=946
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