Learn how to prepare for and conduct successful remote interviews.
any employers have sent their entire workforce remote in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which puts recruiters in a unique position. In order to stay in touch with candidates and continue the hiring process, video interviews are a must.
While you may have experience conducting video interviews in the past, the shift to an entirely remote recruitment strategy is a serious adjustment. The fundamentals of interviewing still hold true for video conferences. However, there are several nuances to be aware of. We’ve outlined our top tips to preparing for and conducting successful video interviews.
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Table of Contents
- How to Prepare for Video Interviews
- 10 Tips for Conducting a Video Interview
- Top 10 Software for Video Interviews
HOW TO PREPARE FOR VIDEO INTERVIEWS
Again, whether your team has experience with video interviews or not, it’s important to thoroughly prepare for the unique challenges and nuances of adapting to a digital interview process. An unpolished process can come across as unprofessional and even damage your employer brand.
However, putting in the work upfront to document and test procedures will go a long way in maintaining a positive candidate experience. Remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Use the following tips to implement a strong video interview process.
1. OUTLINE A PROCESS
First and foremost, put a formal plan together with your entire hiring team. How will the interview process change now that it’s being conducted remotely — will you need to prepare a slide presentation to share on screen? Are there any steps candidates need to complete ahead of time to prepare, such as submitting additional work samples or completing a pre-employment test? What is your backup plan if the internet connection — either yours or the candidates — becomes an issue?
In times like these, aim to over communicate. When the majority of your team is remote, you don’t have the luxury of popping over to their desk to ask for clarification. Include obvious information and details in your procedural outline to minimize miscommunication.
2. CHOOSE, INSTALL AND TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT
Regardless of which interview software you select, it’s important to understand and have experience with the nuances of your equipment before conducting an interview. Do some research beforehand to find out if the candidate needs to have certain log-in credentials, a particular email address or download a platform in order to join the conversation. Make sure to provide all of this information to candidates long before the interview so they can test out the software on their end.
Additionally, hold a few test interviews with your team members to ensure everyone understands how to set up video and audio functions, mute themselves, share their screen and chat during the interview. Go the extra mile and research pain points other software users have identified to practice solutions for common mishaps.
Thankfully, video conferencing is not a new concept and there are a plethora of excellent applications available. In response to the current situation, several providers are offering extended free trials and upgraded services. In a later section, we’ll discuss 10 of the most popular video conferencing software options.
3. NOTIFY CANDIDATES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Video interviews, when done correctly, can be just as effective as in-person interviews. The transition to remote interviews may also be to your benefit — when working from home, candidates don’t have the added stress of coordinating interviews with their in-office work schedule.
Nonetheless, it’s still a change they need to prepare for. Provide them with clear directions on the equipment they’ll need to join the interview — internet access, software or video conferencing applications, a quiet space, etc. — and emphasize that the change is out of concern for their health and safety, along with that of your employees.
Additionally, communicate expectations as you would for an onsite interview so the candidate is well-prepared for and comfortable with any adjustments. Use the following video interview invitation template to get started.
Candidate Notification Email Template
Subject Line: [COMPANY NAME]: Video Interview Availability
Hi [FIRST NAME],
Thank you for applying to the [JOB TITLE] position at [COMPANY NAME].
After reviewing your application, we would like to invite you to interview with [INTERVIEWER], our [INTERVIEWER JOB TITLE].
So we can get to know you better, the interview will be conducted over video using [VIDEO CONFERENCING PLATFORM] and last about [LENGTH OF INTERVIEW] in total.
We want you to be able to plan accordingly, so we’ve provided a list of date and time options over the next week. Please take a look, and let us know which date is best for you.
[DAY, DATE – TIME, TIME ZONE]
[DAY, DATE – TIME, TIME ZONE]
[DAY, DATE – TIME, TIME ZONE]
We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation.
[YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE]
4. SET UP A GOOD INTERVIEWING SPACE
Instruct your interviewers to designate a quiet, well-lit space for conducting interviews. The video quality is a huge factor of interview quality; if the candidate has trouble hearing or seeing the interviewer, they’re going to have trouble connecting with your company. If your software has a test option, provide candidates with instructions on how to test their audio and video, so they’re confident using the equipment and can focus their energy on preparing for the interview.
5. SET UP A FEEDBACK PROCESS
Take the opportunity to learn from each interview by asking candidates to complete a feedback survey afterward. Keep the survey simple, and ask general questions about how candidates felt the conversation went, if the software worked well and if there is anything that could be done to improve the video interview experience. Use the information from these surveys to enhance the process as you go.
10 TIPS FOR CONDUCTING A VIDEO INTERVIEW
When you’re ready to start the conversation, use the following 10 tips to ensure the video interview is professional and productive.
1. BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Treat a video interview like you would an in-person one. Just because there’s a screen between you and the candidate does not mean that common courtesies are off the table. A whopping 55 percent of communication is nonverbal, and another 38 percent is conveyed through tone of voice; your words only amount to seven percent.
In short, the way you present yourself is extremely important, even in a video interview. Make eye contact, sit up straight and nod to show you’re following along with what the candidate is saying. Don’t forget to smile!
2. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Even if you’re no longer in the office, dress professionally. Showing up to the conversation in sweats and a t-shirt, unless it is typical office attire for your organization, will signal to the candidate that the conversation isn’t really important. If a shirt and tie is most appropriate, wear it; you can always change after the interview.
Dressing as you would in the office gives the candidate a sense of your culture and makes a video interview feel more in line with an onsite interview. Of course, your attire is usually only visible from the waist up, so a blouse, collared shirt or nice sweater is perfectly acceptable.
3. HIGHLIGHT YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
Candidates can’t experience your company culture firsthand during a video interview, so make it a point to highlight your culture throughout the conversation. Emphasize your core values and company mission, share stories about team outings, and talk about how your office is structured and the intention behind it.
Paint a clear picture of what it’s like to work at your company. Above all, infuse your culture into the interview by embodying your core values and treating the candidate as you would a colleague.
4. REVIEW PAST INTERVIEWS AND TAKE NOTES
Ahead of a video interview, review your notes from previous conversations with the candidate so the next one is as productive as possible. Take notes on what the candidate says, how engaged they seem and their general demeanor during every interview. Note that it’s important to inform the interviewee that you’re taking notes to reference later and that you’re still paying full attention to the conversation. They can’t tell what you’re writing, and to them, it may seem like you’re not paying attention.
Most platforms generate transcripts of meetings, which makes it easier to capture the entire conversation and share it with other stakeholders. Still, jot down notes on things that stand out to you during the interview.
5. BE CONSIDERATE AND COMPASSIONATE
Give your candidate the respect they deserve by minimizing background noises and distractions. However, life happens — especially at home — and there may be interruptions. Before diving in, take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the candidate’s flexibility in moving the interview to a video conference and ask them for their patience if things pop up. Additionally, don’t fault candidates if the same happens from their end.
6. ASK CONSISTENT QUESTIONS
Regardless of interview format, it’s vital that you ask all candidates a consistent set of questions. No need to reinvent the wheel; continue to use the questions you’ve outlined for in-person and onsite interviews.
That way, if interruptions happen — as they’re likely to during video interviews — you’re better prepared to evaluate and compare candidates based on the merit of their responses. Additionally, use an interview scorecard to remain unbiased in your evaluations.
7. CONSIDER PRE-RECORDED INTERVIEWS
When time constraints and access to resources make it difficult to schedule video interviews, consider asking candidates to complete a pre-recorded interview. Provide them with a limited number of questions and be mindful about the length of response each requires. When asking in-depth questions, stick to just a few.
Candidates will record their answers and submit the interview as a video file. This can either be done via email or a confidential content sharing platform. Some platforms even support this style of video interview. Be sure to specify the file size and format, as well as any time limitations. Explain how the video will be used and evaluated differently from a live video interview. Remember to over communicate — include any information you can provide to reassure the candidate and help them prepare.
8. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
No matter how many times you test your video interview software, problems can still occur. In the event that video or audio functions aren’t working, internet access becomes unstable or surroundings are no longer conducive to an interview, have a failsafe in place. Whether you default to a phone call or switch to FaceTime, ensure you have an alternative method for conducting the interview.
Talk with the candidate about what is most convenient for them. If internet access is the issue, they may need to switch to a phone call. Alternatively, if background noises become too much of an interruption, you may have to reschedule the interview altogether or switch to a pre-recorded interview. Again, remote work poses unique challenges for everyone; being flexible and accommodating will make candidates feel more at ease and improve your employer brand.
9. SILENCE YOUR PHONE AND MUTE NOTIFICATIONS
Give candidates your full attention and turn off the rest of the world when conducting video interviews. Your device’s built-in speakers can pick up and magnify notification noises, which makes for a very unpleasant interruption. On top of that, it’s rude and disrespectful of your interviewee’s time. Remember, this is a time to both assess a candidate’s fit for the role and sell your company as a potential employer, so treat them with the same respect you expect from them.
10. LOG ON EARLY
Don’t let your candidate wait around wondering if they’ve got the right time or joined the right meeting. Show up to the video interview five minutes early and switch off your video functionality while you wait. This will ensure you’re on time to the meeting, but you can continue to work or organize your space in the meantime. Your candidates will appreciate your punctuality and preparedness.
TOP 10 SOFTWARE FOR VIDEO INTERVIEWS
To make a complicated situation easier on your team, we’ve identified ten of the best software for video interviews. We’ve also included software ratings from reliable sources, such as the world’s largest B2B marketplace, G2 and software comparison site, Capterra. Note: All reviews are on a scale of five.
Zoom is a leader in video communication providers, offering users a single solution for video and audio conferencing, messaging and webinars. The easy-to-use platform makes company wide implementation simple and minimizes technical difficulties on the candidate’s end. To help first-time users make a smooth transition to video interviewing, Zoom created resources for support as the COVID-19 situation unfolds.
G2: 4.5 (20,852 reviews)
Capterra: 4.6 (4,057 reviews)
2. GOOGLE HANGOUTS MEET
Google Hangouts Meet is a relatively simple transition for businesses already using G Suite. Participants need only a link to join the meeting — which is easily shared through Google Calendar or Gmail invites — eliminating the hassle of extra software and access codes. Hangouts Meet also offers Android and iOS apps so participants can join interviews from most devices. In response to coronavirus, all G Suite customers have access to advanced Hangouts Meet features through July 1, 2020.
G2: 4.3 (3,778 reviews)
Capterra: 4.7 (7,690 reviews)
Skype makes internet calls simple. The platform offers HD video and audio calling, messaging, screen sharing, call recording and live subtitles. Not only is it a useful platform for remote teams, but it makes the process of conducting video interviews painless, offering background blur features and a live code testing environment for software developer or engineer interviewss.
G2: 4.3 (16,630 reviews)
Capterra: 4.3 (9,732 reviews — Skype for Business)
4. CISCO WEBEX MEETINGS
Video interviews are effortless with Cisco Webex Meetings. HD-quality video makes it feel like participants are in the room with you, and individuals have the option to customize meeting layouts to optimize views. Interviews can be conducted via any device with great features like in-meeting private messaging, screen sharing and recording functionality with automatic transcriptions. Cisco is offering Webex for free to support organizations in need of remote work tools.
G2: 4.2 (10,202 reviews)
Capterra: 4.4 (3,753 reviews)
5. MICROSOFT TEAMS
Microsoft Teams allows for video conferencing between parties of 10 to 10,000, so group interviews are well within the realm of possibilities. Plus, the connection with Office 365 allows interviewers to share Word, PowerPoint and Excel files in real time. Microsoft also provides users with everything they need to get up and running, including training guides and videos. To make remote work, learning at a distance and video interviews possible, Microsoft Teams is available for free.
G2: 4.2 (6,241 reviews)
Capterra: 4.3 (2,694 reviews)
GoToMeeting prioritizes collaboration, which is vital when coordinating interviews remotely. Through the platform, you can chat with coworkers and candidates before seamlessly transitioning into a full meeting. You can also start a meeting from outside platforms, including email, communication tools and your CRM. Plus, when it comes time to review the interview, you can search through a database of automatically generated transcripts.
G2: 4.2 (10,600 reviews)
Capterra: 4.5 (6,841 reviews)
Join.me offers video and audio conferencing, in addition to screen sharing, mobile apps and integration with Outlook or Google Calendar. As a video interview bonus, you have the ability to customize your meeting link and meeting background to add another element of employer branding.
G2: 4.2 (3,557 reviews)
Capterra: 4.3 (1,174 reviews)
8. CISCO JABBER
Cisco Jabber offers instant messaging, voice and video calling, desktop sharing and real-time presence information. You can access Cisco Jabber directly from Microsoft Office applications, making it easier to switch to interviews throughout the workday.
G2: 4.1 (3,012 reviews)
Capterra: 4.3 (799 reviews)
BlueJeans offers secure cloud-based meetings. It only takes six seconds to schedule, join and host one-touch meetings. Plus, the platform integrates with scheduling, messaging and productivity tools, so you can stay on track throughout the interview. BlueJeans also includes screen sharing, polling, Q&A, recording and chat features.
G2: 4.3 (3,265 reviews)
Capterra: 4.3 (314 reviews)
UberConference eliminates the headache of pin access codes and makes it easy to connect with anyone, at any time. The platform offers HD video conferencing, meeting transcription through voice intelligence and screen sharing capabilities. In an effort to support organizations in the midst of the COVID-19 situation, UberConference Free allows for longer call duration and more participants.
G2: 4.4 (1,442 reviews)
Capterra: 4.5 (347 reviews)
Approach a video interview as you would an in-person interview. Doing so will ensure candidates take the conversation seriously and are evaluated effectively. Additionally, make sure the proper systems and backstops are in place ahead of time so you can maintain a consistent, efficient recruitment process as you transition over to video interviews.