Video Interviews in the Age of Coronavirus


I’m writing this because 99% of the people who read our blog are looking for practical advice on how to hire better with the right recruiting tools.  And, with the recent outbreak, we are getting questions daily about advice on video interview software.

I’m also VERY aware that there are bigger struggles many people are facing currently with small businesses on the verge of collapse, and many people’s health at risk.  I want to call that out and as I think it’s important to focus on the personal goals that we may have, while also thinking about the broader society and how we can do our part to help quell this threat (wash your hands, buy a gift card to your favorite local café, etc).

That said, I wanted to share some tactics that can be quickly spun up for companies who are continuing to hire, and don’t want to lose out on top talent.  

Specifically, this post is all about how to effectively use video interviews during these challenging times to engage candidates in your hiring funnel, and continue to hit your goals as a business.

From the Candidate’s Point of View

Three good friends of mine are interviewing for new jobs.  Two of them started interviews pre-corona, and one mid March.

It’s been interesting to hear how the companies they are interviewing with have handled the outbreak.  There has been almost no communication on what to expect going forward in the interview process.  This is SO FRUSTRATING for job seekers, especially at a time when we are all very stressed about the stock market, getting sick, and the more at risk people in our lives.

My advice: Let all people in your hiring funnel know what complications your team is facing, and what they may be able to expect in the short and long term.  No one expects you to have all the answers, it truly is the thought that counts here.  

An example note would read as follows:

Dear {{firstName}},

First off, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe during these scary times.  As you know, we deeply value everyone who works at our company, and with the safety of our colleagues in mind, we’ve instituted a work from home policy.

We’ve also suspended a lot of normal business as we look to understand how Coronavirus will impact our organization in the short and long term.

That said, we are still growing, and want to get to know you better as a candidate.  There may be a slight delay as we work to figure out the best process for our team, but we wanted to let you know that you can expect to hear from us in the coming week regarding next steps.

Most likely, subsequent interviews will happen virtually through a video interview platform.  We’ll be sending instructions on how to connect through this platform and schedule interviews accordingly.

Thank you for your patience, please feel free to reach out with any questions!

Video Interview Software Best Practices and Practical Advice

Going back to my friends, I was shocked to learn only two of the companies they are interviewing with collectively have been nimble enough to switch their hiring practices to include video interviews in the past week.

Each of these people are going for fairly senior roles ($200k+ salaries), and you simply don’t want to lose applicants like this to a company that moved faster.  The companies that do adapt will be able to get this talent!

With all that in mind, here are our best practices on how to get video interviews setup quickly, and effectively:

  • Explain Benefits: Explain to candidates why you’re doing video interviews and the benefits to them – keeps everyone healthy, saves time, allows us to continue  to get to know one another despite COVID-19.
  • Candidate Expectations: Tell candidates what dress code is appropriate for a video interview, how long this will take, and where they should do it (quiet room, without distracting clutter in the background).
  • Candidate Support: Make sure you give candidates necessary instructions and help to get live with the video interview software.  Most vendors have support for this.
  • Cut Candidates Slack: Remember the first time you did anything?  There were basic things you messed up.  If someone is a great candidate but had a messy desk in the background or couldn’t get their video camera to work for a few minutes, that doesn’t mean they won’t be good at their job.
  • Consistency:  Make sure your recruiters are using a consistent set of questions and criteria for these interviews across candidates – just like you would in your typical interview process.
  • Video Interview Solutions: Do 2-3 demos and pick a vendor.  Here are the vendors we recommend.  We did demos with a dozen solutions and found these to be the best.  Quick links: VidCruiter has a great solution, AllyO is good for high volume hiring, MyInterview has free forever tier, SparkHire is probably the most popular solution with 5k customers.
  • I have an interview in an hour: Programs like Facetime, Google Hangouts and Zoom can also be great ways to continue the interview process.  While they aren’t going to integrate with your ATS, or have all the interview specific features, they can be setup in a few minutes.
  • Pre-Recorded Interviews: If you’re doing pre-recorded video interviews, keep them to 4-6 questions and let candidates know you’re doing this vs live interviews due to timing constraints and when in the interview process they can expect to talk to someone live.

There’s no doubt the recruiting teams that can adapt quickly and stay focused will actually be able to accomplish some pretty amazing things while the rest of their competition is scrambling.  

Good luck and let us know if you have any questions in the comments!

This post originally appeared on SelectSoftware’s blog where we write about the latest in HRTech.