Advice for Employers: How to conduct a successful video interview
Despite an easing of lockdown restrictions and the ability to meet face-to-face again, albeit from the required social distance, many employers are still choosing to conduct recruitment interviews via video link. They are time and cost-efficient, safer for everyone and logistically make a lot of sense, particularly if the interviewing panel are working remotely.
Although video interviews pre-date the Covid-19 pandemic and the mass migration to home working, they were not all that common and tended to be favoured by employers in the more tech-savvy sectors. Circumstances have changed and with it attitudes towards technology, including the use of laptops and webcams for interviewing purposes to the extent that video interviewing is now often the preferred option. We are increasingly seeing first and second interviews being conducted in this way despite opportunities opening up for face-to-face meetings.
In many respects the interview structure remains the same whatever format you use. However, there are some significant differences to consider so if you are planning your next hire and are going to be conducting video interviews, the following pointers may be helpful:
Roles and responsibilities
If you are interviewing as part of a panel, you will need to decide who will chair the meeting. You will also need to agree each person’s role. Spend time beforehand going through the agreed list of questions and deciding who is going to ask what. As with face-to-face interviews, you need to ensure that interviewers sticks to the script, do not talk over each other or go off at a tangent. You will also need to agree your evaluation criteria and how you are going to score each candidate, to ensure every interview is fair and consistent.
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 some candidates may be unusually nervous or ill at ease in front of a camera.
To counteract this, try to look at how the candidate responds to your questions. Are they smiling and paying attention? Have they dressed the part? Are they nodding and responding in the right places? Are they actively participating in the conversation? Are they asking questions? Having they done their homework?
Over the last few months, video has become a lot more familiar and employers and job-seekers are becoming more comfortable with it as a communications platform. As an interviewer, there are particular aspects of video etiquette that you will need to consider.
Is the technology up to the job? Can your participants hear you clearly? Is your webcam framed correctly and pointed a suitable distance from your face? Is your internet connection strong enough to cope with the conference?
You may be working remotely, but you still need to showcase your organisation in a professional way. If your space is cluttered, you may wish to invest in a corporate backdrop or, if you’re using Zoom, you can opt to upload your own backdrop – ideal if you’d like to separate your home and working environments.
Don’t forget 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 unnecessary noise from becoming a distraction.
After an interview is complete, you should schedule an additional video conference with the members of your hiring team to discuss everyone’s feedback. While it may be tempting to follow on from the call once the candidate has disconnected, we recommend taking a break to allow each member of the interview panel time to collect their thoughts. Not only will this avoid any bias or undue influence, but it will give everyone the space to fully judge a candidates’ strengths and weaknesses before sharing their feedback.
You may wish to involve an HR representative who will collate everyone’s comments and evaluation in a fair and impartial way. The information will be used as the basis for feedback to the candidate (or recruitment consultant) and stored in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP).
We all remember the infamous live BBC interview with Professor Robert Kelly which saw his two young children enter the room followed by his wife in hot pursuit. We are all fallible and despite our best intentions and pre-planning, things can and will go wrong. Technology may fail, someone may enter the room unexpectedly or an internet connection may drop out. 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.
It’s wise to agree a back-up plan with the interview panel and communicate it to the candidate - in the same way that you would mention the nearest fire exit if you were meeting face-to-face. For example, you could provide a phone number for everyone to call should the technology fail.