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Tips for Interviewing Candidates on Video

Virtual interviews are a safe way to close the candidate selection process while adhering to social distancing. They are also more convenient to schedule, allow you to evaluate candidates from all over, and can be more comfortable for the candidate. In many ways, video interviews can be just the same as in-person interviews, but require a bit more prep and knowledge of video-chat etiquette.

If you’re new to video interviewing, or just need a refresher, here are some tips for making a great experience for you and your candidates.

Before the Interview

Give the interviewee time to prepare for the interview, so make sure to schedule it at least a day ahead. Let them know what to expect, be it the length of the interview, whether it includes skill tests, or how many interviewers will be present. You might consider sending some critical questions to the interviewee beforehand, if you want more thoughtful, specific answers. You want to see the best side of the candidate, so help them show you their best.

For scheduling, make it easy to RSVP to the video call, and join it when the time comes. Google Meeting has an all-in-one email that includes RSVPs, integration with Google calendar, link, and email when the meeting is live. Not all video call programs have that, so you may need to manually email that information. Make it clear where the link to join the call will come from, and what the candidate needs to do to join. Also if you have a username, check that it’s professional.

Whatever program you use, test it out beforehand. You want to make sure that your camera, microphone, and internet speed is up to the task. Do a test call, or even a practice interview. Make sure your internet speed is at least 1 megabits per second. Always wear headphones, and have your candidate do the same, or you will both risk distraction from echo.

You’ll want to have a quiet, focused environment for the interview. That means no outside chatter, no distraction from your phone or computer, and good lighting. Make sure your background is clean and professional. Since many people may not have the same access to privacy in their homes, be understanding of interruptions.

As always for interviews, have a standard metric for rating candidates. This will help you fairly evaluate candidates against each other, and structure your thoughts during the interview.

Right before the interview, re-read their resume and materials and prepare any specific questions.

During the Interview

Video interviews can feel more casual than in-person interviews, especially if they are conducted at home. Keep the level of professionalism that you would for an in-person interview, by dressing appropriately, putting away your phone, and otherwise treating it like a normal interview.

Having a seamless video conversation takes practice and focus. You will be using slightly different skills to read people than you do in-person, and have to pay more attention.

You’ll want to both make direct eye contact by looking at your computer camera, and also pay attention to the candidate’s expression and body language on the screen. Position the video of the candidate as close to the camera as possible. When you’re listening, watch them on the screen, and when you’re speaking, look at the camera. Show that you are engaged while listening by nodding and smiling.

Lag in video can make conversations awkward. No one wants to talk over each other or sit in silence. This is made easier by the interview structure, since there’s a clear back-and-forth with questions and responses. Still, pay extra attention to whether the candidate is finished speaking, and make it clear when you are done speaking. There will be awkward moments, so be understanding of them.

If there are multiple interviewers, conversation can get more tricky. With multiple people in a call, a good point of etiquette is to mute yourself when you are not talking. People will be able to see when you mute and unmute yourself, which indicates that you’re ready to speak.

If you test your set-up and get a little practice in, you’re sure to nail the interviews and focus on what’s important: finding the best candidate for the job.

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