During the past several months, people who never used video conferencing software before the COVID-19 pandemic have become believers in the potential the technology has for how they conduct business in today’s always connected world.
Interviews, for example, are an ideal fit for video calls and became more common during quarantine when shelter-in-place restrictions prevented in-person meetings. But of course, as with any technology, many people experience a bit of a learning curve in the beginning.
There’s plenty of common ground between in-person and video interviews and most hiring managers are well versed in the basics, like having a prepared list of questions or turning off email notifications and text messages. However, in regard to video interviews especially, there are a few tips to consider you may not have thought about.
Give candidates plenty of time to prepare.
Because of the immediacy of technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to start up an impromptu video call with coworkers and colleagues any time you need to have a discussion. However, once you decide you would like to interview a potential job candidate, set a specific date that allows them time to download any necessary technology, test their device, or make arrangements to do the interview from somewhere with more reliable internet.
Have a plan B
Of course, no matter how much prep time there is, no technology is perfect and the potential for a breakdown is always there. Therefore, be sure to have a backup plan in case you get disconnected. Whether it’s a predetermined time to try again later or a phone number where you can be reached to continue the interview, let the candidate know how they can get back in touch if something happens.
Set a firm agenda
Video interviews, in general, can feel less formal than an in-person interview. It’s the nature of the medium, but don’t be tempted to just put it together on the fly. Set an agenda for the interview and what the candidate can expect. The agenda can be simple, such as a bulleted list that includes topics like Introductions, Review Job Description, Company Overview, etc. You could even email the agenda to the candidate in advance so you’ll both be on the same page and have a “roadmap” for navigating the video interview.
Sure, distractions like emails and texts apply just as much to video interviews as they do to in-person interviews, but when you’re not in the office, there’s likely a whole new set of distractions to contend with you may not think about until it happens. One of the biggest is technology issues. If you’re having to pause the interview to adjust settings, figure out how to mute and unmute, etc., it can not only be distracting, but also frustrating for the interviewee who came prepared to put their best foot forward.
Additionally, surprise visits from kids and pets are always a possibility when interviewing via video from home, so be sure to find a place where you can lock yourself away from interruptions as best as possible.
Show some grace
Face-to-face interviews are stressful enough for candidates, throw in the disadvantage of not physically being in the same room as the interviewer where it’s easier to read body language and facial expressions, and it becomes a much more awkward interaction—especially if the candidate has little experience with video conferencing. So, it’s important to take that into consideration, help them feel comfortable, and let them know that it’s just as awkward for you and to relax.
Written by: Debbie Boehm