How to Make the Most of a Video Interview — for Managers

Successful Video Interview

Hiring managers are increasingly tapping into video conferencing technology such as Skype as they navigate the hiring process. But often, as many senior managers reflected in a recent Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey, not everyone is camera-ready for the video interview. 

While there’s no real replacement for meeting a candidate in person, interviews via video offer several advantages. Zoom in on the benefits of the video interview — and how hiring managers like you can make the most of them.

1. Set the scene for the video interview

With both video and audio rolling, you’re virtually inviting candidates into their potential future workplace. Prepare for video interviews just as you would for traditional in-person ones. Use your private office or reserve a conference room, and notify your department members of the interview time so you aren’t interrupted.

Pro tip: One of the benefits of video interviews is flexibility of location. You don’t have to reschedule an interview when a last-minute business trip comes up, and you can consider candidates from out of town. Just be sure to scope out an appropriate spot to conduct the interview ahead of time. Privacy and a quiet environment are essential.

2. Create the right mood lighting

It’s not just about vanity. Dim lighting or harsh glares can make it difficult for your candidate to concentrate on the interview. Choose a location with natural lighting if possible, and be sure the source of light is in front of you. Avoid fluorescent lights, because they can give you an unnatural, washed-out look on camera.

Pro tip: The ability to look your candidate in the eye is perhaps the greatest advantage of video interviews over phone interviews. However, many managers make the mistake of looking at the computer screen. Instead, for true eye contact, look directly into the camera as you ask questions and converse with the interviewee.

3. Anticipate some tech drama

Tech glitches like audio delays or accidental disconnections make your organization appear outdated and disorganized. If you’re using new software or equipment, conduct a trial run before the video interview. Just in case the unexpected happens, have a backup plan ready, such as the ability to move to a phone interview instead.

Pro tip: If you’re conducting a video interview away from the office, such as at a hotel or conference center, get there ahead of time to check the Wi-Fi situation. Even if the location you plan to use offers access, it could be slow and/or unreliable.

4. Avoid wardrobe malfunctions

Khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt might work for a Hollywood director, but they’ll hardly give the right impression to finance candidates. Your future employees take their cue from you, so dress for a video interview just as you would for an in-person one, even if you’re conducting it poolside from a resort in Tahiti — and save the daiquiri for a post-interview celebration if your candidate accepts.

Want to see more? Watch this, How to Get Ready for a Video Interview:

Video interview advice for job seekers

If you're a job candidate looking for advice on video interviewing, Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, suggests that you follow many of the same tips. “While technology has sped up the recruiting process and eased the burden of traveling to an interview," he says, "job applicants should treat video interviews with the same level of professionalism as in-person meetings.”

Read this post for more information on How to Ace Your Video Interview — for Job Seekers.

This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to reflect new information.