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Practical tips to conducting the perfect video interview

As remote working and social distancing are expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future, many businesses who are continuing with their recruitment strategies are turning to video technology. In recent years, video interviews have become increasingly common, particularly for businesses that may operate from multiple locations. The ability to ask different members of staff to log into a video conference means that scheduling conflicts are a thing of the past. Not only can members of the hiring panel join in from different locations, but the reduction in travel time means that productivity could increase.

In a 2019 survey from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), 47% of respondents (including many blue-chip companies) stated that they had already started using video interviews. In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, this is expected to increase dramatically. The ISE will imminently expand on this research, but it’s believed that video interviews may have increased in popularity by as much as 67%.

With this in mind, we are sharing some practical tips which may help you to conduct a successful video interview.

Of course, we understand that there is no bespoke ‘one size fits all’ approach to interviewing – after all, each business will be looking for something specific. At Allen Associates, our trained recruitment consultants can work closely with our clients to help identify the most appropriate ways for you to make the most of video interviewing. However, we hope that this can be used as a starting point for your pre-interview preparations.

Which video technology should you choose?

Video conferencing has taken off because the technology is easy to use, and it is free of charge. If you are planning on inviting multiple people to join your hiring panel, you may decide to use Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams. Another popular option is Zoom – it’s grown in huge popularity in recent weeks - even Boris Johnson tweeted an image of the Cabinet meeting for a virtual conference. Many businesses choose to use Zoom because you can upload specific backgrounds (which can be fully branded with your corporate identity) which could aid your professionalism.

If it will be just one candidate and a hiring manager, you may like to stick to apps such as FaceTime or Skype.

If you believe that you may start to use video interviewing with greater frequency, you may consider investing in additional resources such as wireless microphones and/or higher specification laptops/tablets which may offer higher quality webcams.

What type of video interview will you choose?

There are two common types of video interviews: live conferencing or pre-recorded interviews.

The benefit of pre-recorded options is that you can use them to pre-screen candidates, saving valuable time, and resourcing for your shortlisted candidates. Tools such as SparkHire can not only help you to record some pre-set interview questions but they can also help your hiring team to evaluate candidates and automate responses.

Who will chair the interview?

If you are interviewing as part of a panel, you will need to decide who will chair the meeting. As with live face-to-face interviews, you need to ensure that the panel does not talk over each other or repeat the same questions. You will also need to agree amongst yourselves what aspects you will be judging the candidate on.

You may wish to review our recent client guide – “A guide to conducting the perfect interview” for some additional hints and tips.

Judging non-verbal communication through video

As interviewers, you will know that a core part of any interview is the ability to judge non-verbal communication (such as body language). But how can you adequately judge this when you are relying upon video technology? Relying on a candidate’s behaviour on the screen can be tricky because some candidates may be naturally camera-shy.

To counteract this, try to look at how the candidate responds to your questions. Are they smiling and paying obvious attention? Have they dressed the part? Are they nodding or responding in the right places? Are they actively participating in the conversation?

Of course, you may need to consider that at the moment many candidates may be participating in video interviews whilst children are home from school. This could bring up even more challenges for candidates and as a hiring panel, you may need to provide allowances if a candidate does seem distracted. Even Hollywood A-listers such as Chris Hemsworth have struggled to conduct video interviews without being interrupted by children!

Be aware of video conferencing etiquette

As you get more adept at using video technology, you will start to become attuned to the etiquette involved. Unlike audio conferencing, there are more elements that you may need to consider, ensuring that the interview goes ahead as planned.

For example, the first thing to consider is whether your choice of technology is up to speed. Can your participants hear you clearly? Is your webcam framed correctly and pointed at your face? Is your internet connection strong enough to cope with the conference? You may be working remotely, but you still need to showcase a professional image of your organisation. If your camera shows a cluttered background you may wish to invest in a corporate backdrop. As we mentioned earlier, Zoom allows you to upload your own backdrop which can be hugely beneficial for those who wish to maintain their privacy.

Another suggestion for etiquette is to mute yourself when you are not speaking. Not only does this allow you to focus solely on what the candidate is saying, but it prevents any other unnecessary noise from becoming a distraction.

How to facilitate feedback from a remote hiring panel

After an interview is complete, you should schedule an additional video conference with the members of your hiring team to discuss your feedback. Whilst it may be tempting to simply follow on from the call once the candidate has disconnected, we recommend taking a few moments to allow each member of the interview panel to collect their thoughts. Not only will this avoid any issues relating to bias, but it can allow you to fully judge a candidates’ strengths and weaknesses before sharing your opinion with others.

If you are sharing feedback, you may wish to involve a representative from your HR department who can collate any feedback and store it securely. Not only could this data be used to provide post-interview feedback to the candidate (or their recruitment consultant) but it will be considered personal data relating to that candidate. Therefore, in line with GDPR, any notes need to be held safely – something which is considerably more difficult when panellists are working from home.

Coping when video interviews go wrong

We all remember the infamous BBC interview with Professor Robert Kelly. This shows that despite our best intentions, and pre-planning, things can and will go wrong. Technology can fail, someone may enter the room unexpectedly or internet connections could drop out. But how those issues are dealt with can change the way that you view a candidate, or how the candidate perceives you as a prospective employer.

You may wish to implement a back-up plan – for example, if technology failures cause issues with video conferencing, could you have a phone number as an alternative option? If external factors are causing disruption, is your mute button adequate enough or could you consider rescheduling?

In these moments of unprecedented crisis, businesses are learning more than ever how to become more flexible and we may need to consider how to bring this new flexibility into the interview room.

If you would like to find out how you can implement video conferencing for your next job interview, please get in touch. Our dedicated advisors can help you to identify the most appropriate video conferencing strategy for your specific needs.

Allen Associates

Allen Associates


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