Conducting a Virtual Interview

As mentioned in our previous blog post, hiring continues for many organizations —nearly all of it with the help of virtual hiring tools. Moving beyond audio-enabled meetings, video conferencing helps in making meetings more engaging. Aside from remaining safe by maintaining distance, video interviews also offers your organization a chance to streamline processes, saving time, resources, and money. 

Follow the steps below to ensure an excellent candidate experience and derive the most value from your virtual interview sessions. A downloadable PDF version of the guide can be found below and at the end of this blog post.

Virtual Interview Checklist - JPG

Before the Interview

Choosing a Video Conferencing Platform: 

Advances in technology have created an atmosphere where people no longer need to be in the same location for a meeting. The downside to this is that the market is now flooded with options to choose from - leading to overwhelm and difficult decision making. If you enter the search terms in Google, “Best free video conferencing software 2020”, Google returns 687,000,000 results. Where to begin?

While all platforms offer one main service (video conferencing), they are each unique in features. Click the image to download our comparison of the top platforms: 

Video Conferencing Comparison - JPG-1

Testing the System:  

For the best candidate experience, take the time to test the system prior to the interview. If you have been using a software such as Microsoft Teams or Skype to communicate with people internally, test the software with someone outside of your organization. Many systems are simple to use internally, but may require different access for a candidate.

A coworker, friend, or family member can assist you in accessing the software through the invite link and make you aware of any roadblocks a candidate may experience. When testing with someone, try to send the calendar invite or email link to a personal email address. This will ensure that the invite doesn’t just use the tester’s organizational login credentials.

Sharing Expectations and Instructions:

Once you have tested your systems, you’ll have a better idea of what someone outside the organization might experience. For a seamless experience for both the candidate and interviewer, email the candidate instructions, expectations, and any other information needed well in advance of the interview. 

Details you might consider sending:  

  • Does the candidate have to download any specific software or create an account? 
  • Is the meeting password protected? 
    • As of this week, Zoom now requires a Meeting Password for security purposes
  • Dress code for the interview
    • Because the experience is foreign to many candidates, explaining that the dress code is still business professional, even though they aren’t in person
  • Interview Details
    • Who will be interviewing the candidate?
      • Include names and titles
  • Interviewer contact information in case the candidate runs into technical issues 

Giving a candidate these details ahead of time will put them at ease and ensure that they will be at their best, rather than flustered from a poor technology experience. 

If you have been using video conferencing throughout the quarantine, you’ve likely encountered the scenario where everyone on the video chat starts to talk at once. Once this happens, there can be awkward pauses while those in the meeting try not to interrupt each other again. 

This can be prevented by meeting with those that will be in the interview and decide who will lead the interview and who will ask what question at what point. It is recommended to allow each interviewer a section of questions, rather than bouncing around. If you feel as though you need more information or probing questions to get the answer, definitely jump in and ask them, as you needn’t miss valuable information. 

Video Interviews


During the interview: 

Body Language

Body language plays a crucial role in any video conference. The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on video conferencing, which found that 93% of how you are judged during a meeting is based on your non-verbal communications: facial expressions, posture, and eye contact.

It is easy to be self-conscious on a video call. Most of our meetings at work previously occurred face-to-face. Aside from photos and videos, the only time we usually see ourselves is in the mirror. Looking in the mirror is much different than seeing yourself interacting with others and speaking, which can be a strange feeling. This causes people to naturally stare at themselves on a call, because they are making sure that they are perceived in a positive manner. Confirmation bias causes us to perceive ourselves as awkward or strange on a call, because that’s what we are looking for. 

While this is completely natural and most of us are wired this way, eye contact is still important during video meetings. Ensure that you look into the camera of your computer often so that the candidate can get a better feel for who you are. 

To combat the self-consciousness of seeing yourself: 

  • Communicate via video more often. Transition phone calls to video calls with colleagues, friends, and family members
  • Look into the camera or at the candidate and let your own image relax into your peripherals or blur into the background
  • Check if your system offers an option to minimize your own video


Highlight Your Company Culture

Culture is one of the most important factors in a candidate’s decision to accept an offer of employment. Many people would take a pay cut to work somewhere with a better culture. When video conferencing (especially from home), it can be hard for a candidate to determine the culture. This is usually perceived by seeing your office, watching employees interact, and evaluating their own interactions with employees of the organization. 

To best show your culture off to a candidate, have an “elevator pitch” prepared prior to the interview. Explain key elements that make your organization special, share any cultural documents or materials (ex. Culture Card), and tell the candidate about the team that they will be working on.

Minimize the Risk of Interruptions 

Many of us are working from home with spouses or significant others, children, roommates, and pets. Others are working around us and without a private space, this can be hard to navigate a meeting without outside noise and disruption. 

To reduce the number of interruptions, ensure that you are muting yourself when you are not speaking. This will also ensure that there is not an echo or feedback sound during the meeting. It is also important to silence computer notifications and phone calls during this time. The chime of a notification can be picked up by a computer microphone and cause you to look away from the candidate.

The Seamless Video Interview

Just as in-person interviews often have mishaps, human and technological errors are inevitable on a video interview. A bit of preparation by following the steps listed will minimize the risk of these issues and allow you to focus on the most important thing: hiring the right candidate for your organization. 

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