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10 Virtual Job Interview Tips for Hiring Managers & Recruiters 

January 10, 2023

Help everyone in the hiring process make a great impression with these virtual interview tips.

Blog Post

If you’ve ever made a bad hire, you know it’s a decision that can haunt you — and impact the company’s bottom line.

With a lot riding on an interview, it’s imperative that recruiters and hiring managers get it right the first time. Whether virtual or not, interviewing is stressful for everyone involved, including candidates. But today, the odds are that you will make at least a few hires through your computer screen.

The good news is, we’ve learned a lot about virtual interview best practices, and with a little planning and coaching, all participants in the hiring process can make a great impression.

Why Are Virtual Interviews Important?

The competition for top talent puts pressure on employers to create a positive interview experience. Candidates today are not only evaluating the company and the job but also the process itself. In fact, 49% of job seekers say they have turned down an offer due to a poor hiring experience.

While the shift to virtual interviewing may not have initially happened by choice, when done well, it can often lead to higher quality candidates and more efficient recruiting processes.

The Benefits of a Virtual Interview

Although the pandemic accelerated remote work adoption, companies soon realized that virtual interviewing lets them tap into a much bigger and more diverse talent pool. In addition, employers say using virtual interviews speeds the hiring process and makes it easier to manage.

Automating the hiring workflow with an applicant tracking system further helps HR teams ensure each step is completed and communicated to every applicant. And of course, being able to interview your top candidates from a distance cuts down on travel time and expense.

Just as important, though, many candidates simply like the convenience of a virtual interview. It gives them more control over their physical environment, where they can speak with you from a position of comfort and confidence. A virtual interview also alleviates other candidate stressors such as dealing with traffic, parking, and finding the right office.

The Pitfalls of a Virtual Interview

Despite the advantages of a virtual job interview, it can be hard to recreate the intimacy of an in-person meeting when you are separated by miles and hardware. Not everyone is comfortable on camera, and candidates may struggle to maintain eye contact when your face is only inches away from their own.

There are different types of stressors for candidates during a virtual interview, not the least of which is the possibility of technical difficulties like a poor Internet connection or a faulty microphone. Keep in mind that candidates may not have a private home office, so you could meet a dog, a child, or a delivery person in the middle of the interview.

This glimpse into someone’s home can also invite unconscious bias. During the virtual interview, even something as seemingly innocuous as a sports team souvenir might trigger a deep-seated geographic rivalry — or an assumption about someone’s national origin. Recruiters and hiring managers often need training to help them recognize and prevent bias in a virtual setting.

While virtual interviews may not be ideal in every hiring situation, it’s safe to say they are here to stay. During the pandemic, 82% of employers used virtual interviews, with 93% planning to continue conducting interviews virtually in the future.

Top 10 Virtual Job Interview Tips

The goal of any job interview is to set up the candidate for success. All your best practices for conducting an interview still apply, but there are several differences between virtual and onsite interviews that require a little extra attention.

Here is a framework for conducting a virtual interview from start to finish.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Tip #1 — Create a custom list of questions. There are hundreds of examples of interview questions online. None of them were written for your company or for the specific role you are trying to fill. Customize the questions, and then use the same questions for each candidate so that the hiring team can evaluate their knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) fairly.

Tip #2 — Make a role-based scorecard. Every role requires a unique set of skills, both “hard” and “soft.” An account manager might need excellent verbal communication skills, while an accountant needs a keen attention to detail. Using a scorecard helps ensure that everyone on the hiring team is weighing the same KSAs consistently, which helps prevent bias.

Tip #3 — Practice using video. The best way to put a candidate at ease is to be comfortable yourself. By recording yourself on video, you can get used to speaking directly to the camera. Plus, practicing from beginning to end — at least once — will give you a chance to time the interview so you can cut and prioritize questions as needed.

Tip #4 — Craft clear instructions for candidates. This sounds easier than it is. You want to provide enough information so that the interviewee feels well-prepared. But you don’t want to overwhelm them with a super long email!

Expert Tip: What to include in a virtual interview invitation

Try to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. What would you want to know in advance?

    • How do I log into the virtual interview? Most video conferencing platforms provide set-up and testing instructions that you can copy into the invitation. Keep in mind that candidates may be used to a different platform (e.g., Zoom vs. Teams) or have less video conferencing experience than you.
    • Who will I meet? Depending on the hiring stage, an interview could include the recruiter, the hiring manager, a panel of team members, or an executive. Providing a link to team bios or LinkedIn profiles is a nice personal touch.
    • How long will the interview last? A virtual interview can be as long as needed, but bear in mind that screen fatigue is real. Help candidates do their best by keeping interviews to an hour or less.
    • What should I wear to a virtual interview? It’s tempting to think of a virtual interview as more casual than onsite, but candidates want to present themselves in the best light. Let them know up front what the interviewers will expect.

How to Conduct a Virtual Interview

Tip #5 — Kick off the interview with a check-in. Make sure the candidate’s video conferencing technology and your own are working. As you thank them for meeting with you, ask if it’s still a good time. Let them know you understand disruptions can happen in a virtual setting.

Tip #6 — Pitch your company culture and values. Candidates today are looking for more than a paycheck. And it’s not just Gen Z or Millennials — 33% of C-suite-level candidates said they’d take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company that aligns with their ideals. What’s more, 72% of job seekers say they need to understand the work culture before accepting an offer.

Tip #7 — Give candidates time to answer. Be aware there could be a connection lag, or the audio might cut in and out. And let’s be honest, it’s hard to think creatively on the spot no matter the setting. Don’t rush them, but if a candidate gets stuck, move on or find a different way to ask the question.

Tip #8 — Close the interview with next steps. Let candidates know what the next stage of the hiring process is and when they can expect to hear from you. For example, maybe it takes three days to complete a background check, or the VP of Sales is OOO until next week. Try not to leave candidates hanging.

What to Do After a Virtual Interview

Tip #9 — Fill out evaluation scorecards immediately. Build time into the schedule to review your notes and reflect on the candidate’s KSAs. While you can study resumes, work samples, and test assignments later, it’s a good idea to capture your thoughts right after the interview while they’re fresh.

Tip #10 — Send a follow-up email. Thank them for their time again and answer any outstanding questions from the interview. Remember, candidates are evaluating your company’s hiring process as well, and they like to be kept in the loop. There are different schools of thought on what to tell rejected candidates, but regardless, they will appreciate knowing your decision as soon as possible.

Optimizing the Virtual Interview Process

Remember, it’s not just the candidates who are in another location — very likely, your hiring team is dispersed as well. Cloud-based HR recruiting software makes sourcing and hiring talent easier, especially an integrated system that helps you manage and track the entire hiring workflow from job posting to making an offer.

By centralizing all tasks and communications related to talent acquisition, recruiting software keeps everyone on the hiring team focused on the same goals. Not only does this make the virtual interview process more efficient, it’s also critical to evaluating candidates consistently and fairly.

Keep Your Workforce Ready 

Finding the right talent for your team can be challenging in today’s market. But with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be a strain on your internal resources as well. Our recruiting platform streamlines the process, bringing you an intuitive way to search for and engage with top candidates. With communication methods like texting and video, and data that helps you track progress, attracting and winning has never been easier.

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