The changing times mean that those who can are working from home. Where possible, all of our daily responsibilities have shifted online, including the interview and hiring process. While virtual interviews aren't new, it's only with the coronavirus that they've become the norm across the board. Since lockdown, organizations ranging from universities to tech giants have started conducting interviews online or over the phone.
If your hiring process has traditionally involved face-to-face interviews, you might be wondering just what a virtual interview is - not to mention how it measures up to an in-person meeting.
Meeting Face-to-face from Afar
A virtual interview is one that takes place over a platform such as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or any other video conferencing program. In today's social distancing environment, they help minimize risk to both interviewer and interviewee - while also reducing the costs, logistics, and environmental impact associated with bringing a candidate on-site. With most states poised to reopen, virtual interviews are key to positioning your company in order to move forward and look for the best talent.
While virtual interviews don't quite replace an in-person interaction, they're head and shoulders above a phone call, as they allow you to interact in a more natural manner than in an audio-only conversation. On top of that, most video conferencing platforms allow you to share documents, media, and even each other's screens, making it easy to view portfolios, discuss technical scenarios, and review relevant documentation.
Preparing For a Virtual Interview
While your company likely has standard interviewing procedures in place, these will need to be adapted for a virtual interviewing scenario. First up, ensure that everyone in your company is on the same page about how interviews will be conducted. Put together a document outlining what software will be used, who from the company will be attending each interview, and any additional resources that might be required.
Next up, do a run-through with your colleagues to ensure that any technical difficulties are ironed out. Ensure that microphones and cameras work, that interviewers can easily mute and unmute themselves, that you know how to add people to a conversation, and that you can seamlessly share your screen. While you're there, examine your home office setup to make sure that it looks professional - and that background noise is minimal.
Ideally, you've also communicated with potential talent in your job listing that interviews for a given role will be conducted virtually. Once you've shortlisted your candidates, send them everything they need to get up to speed for their virtual interview. To start, send them a meeting invite with the relevant dial-in or log-in details. Let them know whether they'll need to download any software, as well as whether they'll need to perform a particular task during the interview - solving a problem or sharing prior work, for example. Don't forget to provide a backup phone number to call just in case.
Conducting the Virtual Interview
Once you're on the call, your job is to replicate an in-person interview as closely as possible. With a virtual interview, there will be gaps in the experience - for example; your interviewee won't be able to walk through your office and get a feel for your workplace. If you can, set up your computer in a space that resembles the feel of your office, and dress in a way that reflects its dress code. You'll also want to expand your company pitch to include information about your company's culture - this can be a key differentiator.
During the interview, keep things as professional as possible, while remaining personable. Turn off your pop-ups and reminders so that you're not distracted, and set your phone aside. Make sure that your lighting is good, and that you're in full view of the camera. Don't forget to smile, make eye contact, and show that you're paying attention - all the things that you'd do during an in-person interview. Do try to be mindful that while candidates are doing their best, lockdown means that we're at home and unable to control the environment around us. Forgive things like dogs barking, children playing or general household noise - and that inevitable awkward few moments when both parties attempt to hang up.
Finally, don't forget to follow up. Send a thanks, and let your candidate know about the next steps. They'll appreciate the continued communication.
Your Chance to Hire Stellar Candidates
Virtual interviews may take a bit of getting used to, but they have plenty of benefits - especially during lockdown life. You'll be able to quickly "vet" high-quality talent and move them quickly through the hiring process so that they're ready to onboard once you're back in the office. Plus, when the world reopens, you'll have an extra tool in your belt for competing with the big guns who are able to fly in talent in the blink of an eye.