As COVID-19 forces more people to work from home — including hiring managers — remote job interviews have become increasingly common. While most managers have previously participated in online meetings of some type, not all of them know how to conduct a video interview. Here’s some advice to help you prepare, and make the most of, a remote interview.
1. Don’t try to wing it
Online interviews require some preparation. As the interviewer, it’s up to you to set expectations with the candidate beforehand about the remote interview details. Figure out who will place the call, what online meeting platform you’ll use, and give the interviewee the names and titles of any other people who may be joining the interview. Clearly communicating the details of the meeting will put the candidate at ease and make the entire process run more smoothly.
2. Prepare your technology to avoid glitches
Conduct a technical trial run of your video conferencing platform — common ones include Skype for Business and Zoom — a day or so beforehand, giving yourself enough time to adapt if anything isn’t working. Check your computer camera, microphone and internet connection, and make sure you know your login information, especially if you haven’t used the videoconferencing application or tool in a while. If you’re using your laptop or tablet, check your Wi-Fi connection and ensure your equipment is charged and ready to go.
3. Have a backup plan
What if, despite all your preparations, the platform you planned to use doesn’t work? Make sure you have the candidate’s email and phone number handy so you can easily connect. You might end up having a phone conversation instead of a video interview in this case.
Another common issue, especially if you or the candidate are working from home, is bandwidth. If more than one person is online in an apartment or house at the same time, it can cause delays or other issues with video conferencing tools. While not ideal, one way you can try to address this issue if it happens is to turn off the video function on the application you’re using during the interview. You’ll still be able to talk to each other on whatever platform you’re using, just without the visuals. You also might try to schedule the interview at a time when fewer people in your home are online.
4. Minimize distractions
Switch off alerts and chats during the interview and put a note on your door saying you’re not available. Avoid having remote interviews in high-traffic areas of your home. In addition, try to reduce movement during an online interview. If you’re constantly shifting or walking around, it can make it hard for the other person to focus on the conversation.
5. Look professional
Dress as though you’re going to work, even if you’re at home, and make sure the background the candidate will see during the remote interview is free of anything distracting. Many videoconferencing applications allow you to set a blank background.
6. Come prepared
Have a printout of the interviewee’s resume and your list of questions. You might want to log in a few minutes early so you know all the technology is working and you’re not rushing when the interview begins.
7. Pay attention to facial expressions and tone of voice
Keep your voice calm and speak clearly, but also be sure you smile and laugh when appropriate, just like you would in person. You want to demonstrate to the other person that you’re engaged in the conversation.
Also leave a few seconds at the end of sentences or after you ask a question to minimize talking over each other. Remember to look at the camera when you’re speaking, not your own image or the other person’s image, as tempting as that may be.
8. Have a strong close
When remote interviews conclude, tell candidates what’s going to happen next in the process and ask them if they have any questions. Be sure to thank them for their time as well.
Ultimately, you are representing your company during an online interview. Knowing how to effectively conduct a video interview will help you leave candidates with a positive view of both you and your business.