Virtual Interview Tips to Hire Top Talent

Virtual Interview Tips to Hire Top Talent
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Virtual Interview Tips to Hire Top Talent
The option of interviewing and hiring virtually, rather than through typical in-person interviews, is quickly becoming the new norm as recruiters and hiring managers adapt to social distancing, look to open up their talent pool, and manage travel expenses.  Companies that hope to succeed in a virtual setting must rapidly adopt new virtual interview tips and best practices.

Virtual Interview Tips to Hire Top Talent
Understandably, candidates may feel less comfortable and more guarded during virtual interviews. As an interviewer, it’s important to put candidates at ease by creating an environment where potential new hires can feel at their best and open up to you with genuine responses.  Our research shows that a structured yet conversational approach to virtual behavioral interviewing works best.  Follow these virtual interview tips to improve your chances to find a candidate that fits.

  • Set the Candidate Up for Success
    To reduce any uncertainty that the candidate may have about a virtual interview, make sure that you set clear expectations regarding:

    Technology: Share the virtual technology to be used (e.g. Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, WebEx etc.).  Provide instructions on how to download, set up, and test the app before the interview.  This is also a great way to begin to test potential  behavior-based competencies such as organized, detail-orientated, problem-solver, quick-study, adaptable, independent, resourceful, and self-motivated.

    Timing: Schedule the interview time (including time zone) and encourage the candidate to be ready a few minutes ahead of time.  We recommend that you include the name and title of every interviewer so that the candidate has an opportunity to proactively learn about each interviewer in advance.

    Process: Make sure that the candidate understands how the virtual interviewing process will work.  For example, the interviewer will ask questions first and answer any questions afterward. Outlining the virtual interviewing sequence helps both sides get through the process efficiently.

  • Set the Interviewers Up for Success
    You want every interviewer to create a virtual interview environment that will put the candidate at ease and that will allow you to focus on the candidate’s qualifications and fit.  Note: these are also good tips for recruiters to share with candidates.

    Equipment: Test your camera and microphone (note: position the camera slightly above eye level).

    Lighting: Place your lighting sources directly behind the camera (note: avoid being back-lit by windows or lamps as that can make it difficult for the candidate to see you).

    Framing: Remove any visual distractions within the camera frame, mitigate any background sounds so the candidate can hear you clearly during your conversation.

  • Conduct a Successful Virtual Interview
    A successful interview, live or virtual, begins with a relaxed and comfortable candidate, so plan on taking three to five minutes to establish rapport and to clarify expectations about the behavior-based interview process and the virtual format.

    Be sure not to make the screen a barrier between you and the candidate. Look directly into the camera to make eye contact with the candidate and create a connection.Open up with small talk — purposely not using the resume to lead the discussion — and ask open-ended general questions at first.

    Although the candidate’s resume can be a useful conversational springboard, you will quickly need to move beyond the resume to determine and calibrate cultural fit and capabilities — and learn about the how and why of what they have accomplished in their past jobs.

    Your goal is to drill down to specific examples to uncover meaningful patterns of behavior. Remember to delve into any technical questions early on to screen for technical proficiency and to confirm their ability to perform the essential functions of the job.

  • Practice Virtual Behavior-Based Interviews
    All of our live behavioral interviewing training courses include extensive live practice being both the candidate and the interviewer.  All of our virtual interviewing training courses include extensive virtual interviewing practice.  With many companies transitioning from in-person interviews to virtual interviews, we now often practice both modalities in our live workshops.

A Comment about Audio-Only Interviews
Interviewers often feel that phone only interviews limit their ability to fully assess a candidate’s abilities because important visual cues are missing. Actually, visual cues can be distracting, can reinforce unconscious biases, and can prevent an interviewer from accurately assessing a candidate’s abilities and skills. The good news is that a competency-based behavioral interviewing approach helps an interviewer to focus on the candidate’s past and present performance and competencies — rather than on how they appear in the interview.

The Bottom Line
The key to an effective virtual interview is proper preparation. Ensure that your job requirements are clear, that your technology is ready to go, that you follow a proven behavior-based interviewing process, and that you are fully prepared to uncover if the candidate is an intellectual, interpersonal, and motivational fit for the job and the company.

To learn more about how to interview and hire top talent that fits, download Why the Interviewing Process is Flawed – And What to Do About It 

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