Six Steps to Successful Video Interviewing – Business Continuity
As the coronavirus tightens its grip we enter a further period of lock-down.
Many companies are cautious in hiring new staff. Much hiring activity has slowed, most employers have postponed any job interviews they had scheduled. We don’t yet know the full effects on our economy. As an employer, you may even have had to fire people.
What will extended social distancing mean for traditional selection techniques?
However, when we eventually come out of lockdown it seems we are still likely to enter an extended period of ‘social distancing’, with physical meetings frowned upon. That will make traditional interviews awkward. And what if you still need to decide on urgent personnel now? Hiring hasn’t stopped entirely and has increased in some sectors, like retail and logistics. We need to be able to interview, without putting candidates or recruiters at risk.
Hiring hasn’t stopped completely, and we need to reduce risk.
More people than ever are now familiar with video conferencing via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or other tools. Even if they don’t use them at work, many are using them socially during isolation. There are benefits,and pitfalls. We’ve come up with these six tips on how to use video in the recruitment process effectively.
Choose Your Technology
Decide well in advance which system you will use. Test it, and communicate this to candidates as soon as you can. Most people will know Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, but if you use a less popular service, you run the risk that the applicant will not be able to use it, or they will be delayed in getting up and running. That could put your call off to a shaky start. Google has made the premium version of Hangouts free for a time during the crisis. Zoom has also lifted some restrictions from their freemium version and other companies are following suit, so make sure to check whether your favourite service has been made available for free.
Set the Scene
- Many of the same tips apply to video interviews as for video conferencing from home or filming your Monster Studios job adverts.
- Use a webcam if possible, or raise your laptop so the camera is level with your eyes.
- Keep your face well lit from the front. Don’t be a scary silhouette, but don’t be so brightly lit you are ‘washed out’. Test how your set up looks.
- A headset gives better sound quality than most built-in microphones and speakers.
- Consider what’s visible in your background, keep it professional, but interesting. Try to avoid a totally blank wall behind you.
- Wear what you would typically wear when interviewing. If that’s dress down, fine. If it’s a suit and tie – still make the effort.
- Using an ethernet cable can be faster and more robust than wifi – and make sure your laptop is plugged in!
- And, as a general rule, if interviewing from home lock the door if there are small children or pets about.
Be just as professional and prepared as you would in person. Always know which candidate is on the other side of the screen! Read any application form, cover letter or CV well before the interview. It can be tempting to scan the CV during the call, but bear in mind the applicant on the other side of the screen can also see you. Have their phone number and email handy in case of any technical difficulties.
For many applicants, an interview is already very stressful. If they also have to conduct the conversation in a way that is unfamiliar, they could be more nervous than usual. Keep the beginning light-hearted! Explain that you recognise things are different from what was planned, set them at ease with some small-talk and don’t start asking the most difficult questions right away.
Three’s a Crowd
With video, it’s easy to have some colleagues join the meeting but remember that this can be intimidating for the candidate. Don’t get carried away – Have the conversation conducted by the right people. You might carry out the initial interview 1:1 then schedule a follow-up video call to introduce a stage with a direct manager, owner or colleague. If you have decided on a panel interview, rehearse with your colleagues ground rules like being on mute when not speaking, and warn the candidate in advance that it will be a panel interview.
Is Video Interviewing… Better?
Video should not be seen as a poor substitute for face to face interviews. It has several advantages. Think how you can use the technology and what video can potentially do better.
- When discussing the candidates’ CV, bring up the document on screen so that you can look at it together.
- Record the interviews (with permission). This can be a big help at later stages, if other recruiters are holding interviews, other stakeholders are brought into the hiring decision or if you later recommend a candidate for a different position.
- If the candidate is making a presentation, passing control to them to present online may be a more realistic assessment for the actual role than an in person talk.
- See in real time their experience with software, CRM or other tools – You can test competency and see how they approach problems.
- If you are discussing the workplace environment (parking, public transport, lunch options, the campus) bring it up on Google Streetview.
- If something comes up in conversation – an interesting skill or experience – they might like to share a picture or video. Get to know them better.
- Video interviewing can make it easier for candidates with disabilities to attend and shine at interviews, as well as for remote stakeholders to be part of the hiring process.
- There is expected to be a surge in home-working after Corona. Remote interviews may give a better feel for how remote workers will communicate and perform.
As well as ‘live’ video interviews there are also systems available where you pose written, or video, questions to candidates, and they record and submit an answer. Candidates can watch back and re-record their answers before submitting, helping with nerves. You can compare candidates answering the same question side by side. You can quickly approach several candidates who can fit it into their schedule without taking time off work, then you review at a time that suits you. This can give you a better understanding of a bigger pool to select from.
Make allowances – for both yourself and the candidates. Some candidates will already be comfortable and familiar with video conferencing. If a candidate isn’t used to speaking on video, it can be a little intimidating. We are all working under certain restrictions – They may not have the ideal set up in terms of a quality camera or fast home laptop. They might be used to video chat on a phone or tablet.
If they are in lock-down, they may not have a dedicated home office space. If a child or pet walks into the background and interrupts – well, it can happen to the best of us when working from home and these are unusual times. Make light of it and keep them at their ease. Don’t count it as a black mark when it’s an opportunity to be kind – and to see how they handle it. In the new post-corona world, video call skills are likely to become increasingly important.
Bonus Tip – Plan For What Happens Next
Our final tip is to plan ahead for the next stages in the process. How can you use video and remote tools to on-board, introduce and train a new employee. We don’t know how long lock-down and social distancing will last – bringing them on-board now will probably still mean an extended period of remote working.