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Can You Hear Me Now? – An Employer’s Guide to Video Interviews

In our last blog article, we highlighted the fact that Covid-19 and subsequent social distancing measures have contributed to a spike in the use of Zoom and other video conferencing programs. Given companies and employees are getting so used to these virtual communication tools, it seems likely they will stick around long after the Coronavirus pandemic has passed. 

While this is predominately a positive thing given the fact that it makes communication much more accessible, it also requires forethought in order to be used appropriately and effectively. This applies to all types of video meetings but particularly remote interviews, which are growing more and more common. 

Employees are not the only ones who need to approach a video interview with caution. Employers should also take certain steps to ensure a professional presence and comfortable, seamless experience for their interviewee. If you’re considering a transition to virtual interviews (or have already done some but would like to improve the quality of them), here are a few points to consider.


  • Give the candidate plenty of time to prepare. Unlike an in-person interview, virtual interviews require some prep-work. The interviewee may need to clear a space to conduct it, set up their equipment or even purchase accessories to facilitate the meeting. Be sure to give them at least a few day’s notice so that they can feel more confident going into it.


  • Send the candidate an email invitation for the interview. This should include the date, time and expected length of the interview as well as any access codes or other information the candidate may need to access the software you’ll use. You should also make note of any required materials the candidate should bring (such as a printed copy of their resume) and include any materials that may benefit them beforehand (such as a detailed job description).


  • Conduct the video interview with the same level of professionalism you would an in-person interview. That means showing up on time, dressed head-to-toe in what you would wear in-person. It also means preparing a list of questions to ask the interviewee and doing adequate research on their work history and skill sets. While a virtual interview may seem more casual, it’s important that you approach it with the same level or formality you would face-to-face.


  • Make sure that all audio, video and general computer equipment is fully functioning before the interview. Nothing makes a worse impression than going to start an interview only to find that the video conferencing program isn’t working, your computer needs to restart or your webcam isn’t properly connected. Test everything beforehand so ensure things run seamlessly once you’re ready to conduct the interview. 


  • Set your laptop or webcam up in an appropriate position. You wouldn’t conduct an interview standing while your interviewee is sitting, so make sure that your video setup doesn’t convey a similar dynamic. Ideally, you should be facing the camera head-on, not looking up or down at it. Not only will this make the interviewee more comfortable, but also allow you to easily maintain eye contact, which is crucial for gaining a candidate’s trust.


  • If the interview is being conducted by multiple team members, ensure each of them has their camera and microphone turned on. If the interviewee can be seen by you cannot see you back, they will feel like they are on display which may foster feelings of insecurity and impact their interview. In order for them to feel comfortable and get an adequate idea of the team they’ll be working with, it’s important that all interviewers are visible during the interview. 


  • Allow enough time for the candidate to answer questions. No matter how good your internet is, video conferences are notorious for lags, glitches and other technical issues. Be sure to give your interviewee plenty of time to answer questions and ask their own to account for any delays that may occur during the virtual interview process.


  • If you must take notes during the interview, do it discreetly. Typing onto the same laptop you are using to video conference is a definite no-go, as the noise can be very distracting. Instead, have a pen and paper handy so you can jot down any important information in a more subtle way.


If you want even more video interview tips, check out our previous article. It highlights video conferencing considerations from the candidate’s side, but many of these can be applied to employers as well. And if you’d like even more news are resources from Jeff Harris & Associates, be sure to check out our blog here.

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