Before the impact of COVID-19, many employers were not prepared for or equipped to conduct video interviews for their job candidates because it wasn’t a necessity. Remarkably, many made the switch nearly overnight and now have incorporated this practice into their hiring routine.
However, some hiring managers still have concerns about the process and wonder if it’s as effective as in-person interviews. We offer the following guidelines to help make the experience worthwhile for employers and their job candidates.
- Select a widely available technology. Many companies use Google Hangouts, Zoom, Cisco Webex (which has upgraded its free version during the pandemic), or Skype. Some popular free tools have come under scrutiny for security flaws, so be sure to research any complimentary tools before using them. Let your candidates know they may have to download an application to their computer or smartphone before the interview.
- Conduct a dry run, and have a backup plan. A new videoconferencing platform is likely to have a learning curve, and you don’t want to waste candidates’ time or yours dealing with technology glitches. Ask your candidates to do a dry run, too. Remember that with a surge in demand on videoconferencing systems, the technology may temporarily fail. Provide a direct phone number, or let candidates know you’ll reschedule in case that happens.
- Be flexible about scheduling and interruptions. With most of the country’s schools closed, many candidates are balancing child care and work, and you may be, too. Coordinate a time that works for both of you, and take interruptions as needed. It is important to be flexible during this time. Showing empathy and flexibility is important to starting the candidate experience off right.
- Follow best practices for video interview etiquette. Both you and your candidates should dress as you would for the office; find a clean, quiet area removed from noise; and make sure to pay attention to your monitor. Turn off your phone’s ringer, e-mail notifications, and other pop-up distractions. Print or write your interview questions, and take notes on paper to avoid switching screens away from your candidates.
- Use a headset. Audio quality will make or break your video interviewing experience. Whether you’re dialing in through your computer or a phone, a headset—even if it’s just your headphones and microphone—will vastly improve the quality.
- Acknowledge the differences. In-person interviews have an established rhythm. You make introductions and engage in small talk. In video interviews, there’s a tendency to jump straight into questions, which can catch candidates off guard. Ease in more slowly to give them time to open up and get comfortable with what is likely a new interview setting for them, as well.
- Manage your expectations. Not every job has the same requirement for professional-level communication skills. Contact center representatives, for instance, may engage customers on the phone, through chat functions, or even via video. They’ll need to be proficient in how they present themselves. But other positions that aren’t customer-facing have other priorities. Don’t let this color your impressions of candidates if they don’t finesse the interview as well as you’d expect them to in person.
Remote work is going to continue at higher numbers than we saw before the pandemic, and companies that master virtual hiring tools will have an advantage over their less-savvy competitors. With many companies preparing to deploy their return-to-work strategies, finding ways to continue hiring now will keep you a step ahead of the hiring surges expected as companies attempt to quickly make up for lost productivity during the peak of the pandemic. A strong remote hiring process is a crucial component of today’s business continuity plans.
|Kathleen Valenti, an Aerotek director specializing in technology and business services, has more than 15 years of staffing experience.