How to Effectively Conduct a Virtual Interview

Finding and hiring the right candidate for a job is always challenging, but with more employees working remotely comes the complex task of conducting a virtual interview.

When we think about a job interview, we think about piles of resumes and nervous candidates lining up in your office waiting for their chance to shine. You greet them, making some awkward small talk, and then sit down in an office or conference room to dive into questions that help you determine whether this person is a good fit for the open position.

This is the old standard as the hiring landscape is rapidly changing. As a result, job interviews are changing, as well.

The Upsurge of the Virtual Interview

It’s no secret that the workforce is changing and heading in a new direction. According to a study done by Gallup, 43% of employed Americans said that they spend at least some amount of time working remotely. That’s a 4% increase since their last study in 2012.

Why the increase?

Job flexibility is an increasing priority for employees at all levels. One study found that work flexibility is one of the most important aspects of a job – trailing behind competitive benefits and pay.

Businesses and organizations that promote work-life balance and a certain degree of flexibility are often hiring people that they will never actually meet face-to-face. Instead, they have had to rely on virtual interviews to become familiar with their candidates and their qualifications.

Virtual Interviews: The Pros

While remote work is ever-creasing in popularity, there are many other reasons that you may need to turn to a virtual interview during the hiring process – even if you are looking to fill a position that isn’t remote.

Virtual interviews are a great way to reduce your hiring costs.

Virtual interviews are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that they are cost-efficient and more convenient.

As an example, perhaps a candidate is located far from your business, but willing to relocate if hired. Rather than forcing the candidate to meet you at your location, you can opt for a virtual interview. This will save you and the candidate time and money.

Let’s delve into the pros of conducting virtual interviews.

1. Saves Money

When it comes to business, it’s all about the bottom line, and saving money is a big part of that. Conducting virtual interviews is far more cost-effective than attempting to meet every qualified applicant for an in-person interview.

A lot of money goes into planning and paying for travel to bring in candidates for an interview. Virtual interviews allow you to effectively screen a candidate and only spend money on in-person meetings for candidates who are at the top of your list for a position.

It costs approximately $4,000 to hire a new employee, so any money you can save by having a virtual interview can keep your hiring costs reasonably low.

2. More Convenient

Convenience is a huge benefit that comes with conducting virtual interviews. For example, if you schedule an interview with a candidate, but all of a sudden, the individual who heads up the hiring process needs to go out of town for a commitment.

With traditional hiring, you would have to reschedule the interview at a time when the hiring manager is back in the office. With a virtual interview, both the interviewer and interviewee can join from anywhere.

A lot of platforms, such as Zoom, provide the option to record your interview. This means that you can keep an accurate record of what occurred during the interview and replay it at a later time for any decision makers.

3. No More Phone Screenings

Perhaps your business isn’t considering replacing in-person interviews altogether, but instead, you’re looking for an alternative to phone screenings.

Phone screenings are a decent way to weed out candidates who aren’t qualified, but if you want to gain a greater insight into your candidates, virtual interviews may be the way to go.

It is estimated that 55% of communication is body language. By taking advantage of virtual interviews, you allow your hiring managers to get a better sense of what each candidate is bringing to the table. As a result, you can create a much stronger candidate list for the next round of interviews.

Virtual Interviews: The Cons

Virtual interviews come with plenty of positives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some negatives associated with these technology-based conversations.

Here are just a few cons that virtual interviews can bring into your hiring process.

1. Technical Difficulties

Interviews are relatively stressful, both for you and the candidate, and the last thing you want is a bunch of technical issues and headaches to make the process even more complicated.

With virtual interviews, also comes the potential of running into a lot of technical problems. Whether connectivity issues or lagging audio, these issues can throw a wrench into the interview process.

2. Less Personal

Another drawback to consider is that even though you’re interacting through video, interviews are typically less personal than an in-person interview.

With a virtual interview, you don’t have the opportunity to shake the candidate’s hand or pick up on cues from their body language. Don’t get us wrong, a virtual interview can still tell you a lot about a person, and it’s still much better than a phone screening, but it will never be as helpful as a face-to-face interview.

3. Nerve-racking

One downside to a virtual interview is that many people can become nervous being on camera. This can lead to a less productive interview and hinder the hiring process.
Many people freeze up or get nervous when on camera. This can be an issue if you’re wanting to have the best possible experience when interviewing candidates.

It is inevitable that a candidate is going to be nervous no matter what type of interview is happening. The entire hiring process itself is nerve-racking for a candidate, but when you add in the process of “being on camera” this can cause a great deal of anxiety for some. Applicants may not present themselves as well via video as they would during an in-person interview.

Tips to Effectively Conduct a Virtual Interview

Have we convinced you that using virtual interviews for your hiring process is a good idea? If so, here are some tips to ensure that your virtual interviews go as smoothly as possible.

1. Test Your Equipment/Software

The last thing you or your interviewee want to deal with is joining an interview only to find out that your audio is not working or your video conferencing software is down for maintenance. This is why it is crucial to test your equipment and software before the interview begins.

Make sure that you are familiar with your tech and all of the features it offers. Do a video and sound quality test to ensure your candidate will be able to see and hear you.

You already have enough to focus on during the virtual interview without worrying about any tech issues, so address any potential pain points to make the process seamless.

2. Find a Quiet Place

Even though you are conducting a virtual interview, you should still show the same level of respect and professionalism that you would for any other type of job interview.

When conducting the virtual interview, you should find a quiet place where you can give the candidate your undivided attention. Don’t conduct the interview in a room full of people or a break room where people are continually coming and going. You should also make sure to silence your phone and get rid of any potential distractions.

Make it a top priority to have a distraction-free zone where you and your candidate can talk. This will make things run smoother for both of you.

3. Be Mindful of Body Language

While your interview may be happening virtually, it is still crucial to act professionally. This means sitting up straight, making frequent eye contact by looking into your camera and don’t be distracted by any outside forces.

Try to remember that the person on the other end can see you, which means your body language matters. Additionally, candidates will follow the example you set, so the more professional you are they more professional they’ll be.

4. Be Transparent

While you may be prepared, technical issues can still happen. If they do occur, don’t be afraid to let the candidate know what’s going on. People generally understand when technical issues arise as they’ve likely experienced them as well.

It is important to be honest and upfront with candidates about any technical issues that occur.

Technical issues are an inevitable part of virtual interviews. Make sure to be honest and upfront with candidates about any issues that do occur.

If audio skips or your video freezes, ask them to repeat what they said. It is far better to be transparent and get the information you need from the candidate rather than politely nodding because you were too embarrassed to admit you may have missed something.

5. Provide Pertinent Information

Just as you should test your technology and find a quiet space for the interview, so should your candidate. A few days ahead of your scheduled virtual interview, send an outline of things the candidate should do beforehand.

Not only should you include things to do before the interview, but you should also include any other relevant information that you think they should know.

Providing them with a guide will help to ease their nerves, and you will have a far more productive interview.

Virtual interviews can be much more convenient and cost-effective than traditional interviewing methods, but they do come with unique challenges. As with anything, make sure that both you and the candidate are adequately prepared before the interview. You can use this post as your guide to ensure that you conduct a productive and professional interview and ultimately find the best candidate for your business.