Checking whether a company’s mission, values and working methods match an applicant’s desired career path and personal values is essential for creating a positive team atmosphere and a coherent working environment.

Ascertaining whether an applicant fits into the corporate culture is perhaps one of the hardest things to assess. Because unlike technical skills, this factor cannot be measured. That is why recruiters rely heavily on personal interviews to see if a candidate’s personality traits and soft skills match the corporate culture of the job in question.

But as more and more companies are switching to virtual job interviews as part of their homeworking arrangements, it can be challenging to assess an applicant’s soft skills and whether they fit in with the company’s values.

However, with some minor adjustments, you can run your existing selection procedure via video or digital platforms and still thoroughly check whether the person would fit into your corporate culture, thus developing a productive and lasting working relationship.

1. Create an inviting atmosphere

Video job interviews tend to be more static than traditional interviews. The greater distance also makes it harder for an applicant to act naturally, making it more challenging to assess their soft skills.

An inviting atmosphere is essential to conduct an efficient virtual job interview whose atmosphere approaches that of a traditional interview. It also helps to overcome some of the obstacles of online applications and to encourage the applicant to be themselves.

This may not be as important in a traditional job interview, but remain attentive and engaged throughout the interview: give a warm welcome, make eye contact, smile, nod and use hand gestures, just as you would in a personal interview.

These are exceptional times. You can develop a relationship with the candidate by being open and transparent about the situation and its effects on your own position and the company. Talking about your own experiences and asking how the applicant has experienced the pandemic can be a great way to gain their trust. Questions such as “How did you experience the measures that were taken?” or “Did the situation have any positive sides for you?” demonstrate your interest without being too personal. They will also give you an idea of the applicant’s resilience, pragmatism and mindset under challenging circumstances.

A virtual job interview is still an interview. Consider it an opportunity to assess an applicant’s attitude. Having the ability to easily adjust to a non-traditional job interview and showing courtesy, enthusiasm and professionalism is a strong indication of emotional intelligence and adaptability – while aloofness and apathy can indicate a lack of interpersonal skills or little interest in the job.

2. Decide on the primary evaluation criteria beforehand

Although video job interviews may differ from traditional job interviews, especially for companies not familiar with remote interviewing, the essential qualities considered necessary for a specific job should remain the same.

When assessing soft skills, the skills, values and behavioural qualities required to perform the job well should be clearly defined in advance. That way, they can be adequately assessed in this relatively unfamiliar environment and will not be forgotten in favour of more easily measurable skills.

In today’s climate, companies are looking for resilient, positive, focused, flexible and stress-resistant candidates. Open questions such as “Could you tell me about a situation in which you were under high pressure? What did you do and what did you learn from it?” provide specific examples about the candidate’s self-knowledge and the way they deal with challenges.

You can also use hypothetical scenarios to gain a deeper understanding of their instinctive behaviour. This is why you should try to ask questions that probe for specific qualities needed for the job. For example: “Mid-project, a customer suddenly no longer agrees with the chosen direction, while everything had been agreed that way at the start. What do you do?” The candidate’s answer will reveal a lot about their stakeholder and project management skills, their adaptability and their mindset under challenging circumstances beyond their control.

Prepare a comprehensive questionnaire to go deeper into specific qualities that would automatically be covered in a face-to-face interview. By setting the assessment criteria for each of these qualities in advance, you will give candidates the opportunity to talk about their skills, and you remove any obstacles to a virtual job interview.

Whereas in the past, strong interpersonal skills were revealed by the way a candidate introduced themselves, you can compensate for the virtual setting by asking questions like “Please describe your typical work style” or by asking about hobbies to learn how individuals relate to colleagues and how they behave in an informal setting.

A poor internet connection during a virtual job interview can affect the applicant’s speed of response and tone of voice. This can make them appear less enthusiastic about the job than they really are. Therefore, ask questions such as “Why are you interested in this job?” or “What did you enjoy most in your previous job?” to assess enthusiasm and commitment.

3. Focus on the corporate culture

The corporate culture is just as crucial for the company as it is for applicants, who tend to want to work for an employer who shares their values. During an on-site job interview, applicants can get acquainted with the physical working environment and their team members and experience the atmosphere in the office. This is not the case with a video job interview.

To clearly present the corporate culture during a virtual job interview, you need to take the time at the start of the interview to introduce the organisation in depth by talking about the company’s mission and values, the candidate’s future team and the job content. You can emphasise the job’s ‘human’ aspect by giving more information about dress codes, social activities or activities outside work.

When assessing soft skills, encourage the applicant to ask questions about the workplace or probe their views with questions such as “Who would your ideal employer be?” to determine what type of job the person is looking for.

A successful video job interview has precisely the same characteristics as a regular job interview. Preparing a bit more, conducting a more in-depth conversation and introducing the organisation in detail can be an equally effective way of assessing a person’s soft skills and whether they fit in with the corporate culture and the job.