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Best Practices for Virtual Interviews

Illustration of candidate facing a screen with employer. Text reads: "Conduct a successful virtual interview:Test your connection,Silence your notifications,Dress professionally,Give the interviewee time to answer"

Virtual interviews are the new normal. Over 5.7M job seekers have scheduled virtual interviews on Indeed,¹ and 88% of employers in an Indeed survey said they have conducted video interviews.

With the rise and persistence of remote work and the benefits that come with video interviews (e.g., time and money savings, faster time-to-hire, improved candidate experience), virtual interviews are now a big part of today’s recruiting practices. In fact, Indeed data shows that 67% of employers who have used virtual interviews on Indeed have used them more than once.²

Below, find out how to hold effective virtual interviews, including the benefits, best ways to prepare, how to make candidates feel comfortable during the process and more.

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Benefits of virtual interviews

Virtual interviews first grew in popularity to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they’ve since become a great way to connect with candidates quickly without having to coordinate location. Here are a few other benefits of conducting virtual interviews:

They can be used as an alternative to phone screens. Screening candidates through video allows you to still connect quickly, but go into more depth with candidates than a traditional phone screen. Even if you still want to hold in-person interviews later on, there are a lot of advantages to using video interviews earlier in the process. It can help you move more efficiently in earlier hiring stages, broaden your applicant pool, help you gain richer information earlier and better assess communication skills.

Virtual interviewing allows you to accommodate a variety of schedules. For example, if a candidate currently has a full-time job they may be unable to travel to your workplace for an interview during normal working hours. Since you and your candidates don’t have to meet in person, virtual interviews can also allow you to expand your candidate pool and speak with people all over the world. This is especially important if you’re looking to hire for remote positions or a position that is not in your home office. Interviewing this way can also help reduce cancellations and interview no-shows since no traveling is required.

They can help you take better notes. With in-person interviews, it can often be difficult to take notes when you’re sitting directly across from a candidate. For instance, when you’re in person with a candidate you might choose to quickly jot down details after the interview, which can lead to lower quality notes. With video interviews, however, you can easily take notes in real-time on your computer or laptop. Indeed Interview, for example, allows you to take and save notes directly in the platform as you’re interviewing someone. This may lead to much higher quality notes that could help you make better hiring decisions.

It may lead to less bias.Video interviews tend to help support a more structured interview process than in-person interviews since it’s often easier to keep them more consistent from one interview to another. For example, there may be less of a need for small talk since candidates won’t be walking the hallways with you to the interview room. Not meeting candidates in person may also help eliminate various conscious and unconscious biases and may lead to a more objective interview. Not to mention there are often no geographic or travel barriers which means you can open the opportunity to a wider variety of people.

There are also lots of benefits for candidates, including:

  • Saves candidates time by not requiring them to travel to a physical location: Candidates can participate in the interview from anywhere convenient to them. According to job seekers in a recent survey, 45% like being able to interview from anywhere.
  • Feels less formal and intimidating:Virtual interviews can also help candidates feel more comfortable since they’re often at home in a familiar setting, allowing them to provide more natural and authentic answers. The same survey showed that 37% feel less intimidated interviewing remotely.
  • No need to worry about finding transportation to an onsite interview: The survey also revealed that 26% of job seekers said virtual interviews alleviated their transportation worries.
  • No anxiety about arriving late: 31% of job seekers are no longer anxious about arriving late to their interviews.

More than 1 in 3 prefer interviews via phone and/or video

Related: How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Interview on Indeed

How to prepare for a virtual interview

The following are steps you can take to effectively prepare for a virtual interview:

1. Give the interviewee time to prepare

It’s important to give your candidates time to prepare for the virtual interview rather than scheduling a meeting for the same day. Giving candidates the opportunity to prepare ensures they are confident and at their best when you do hold the interview. This is also a professional courtesy and demonstrates your professionalism and thoughtfulness and can lead to a more positive candidate experience.

2. Prepare questions and develop a standardized rating system

Prepare questions you need to ask during the virtual interview. Review the candidate’s information, including their resume, cover letter and any additional documentation they provided. Use this information to develop questions you want to ask related to their specific experience and qualifications.

Half of employers ask 5-10 questions during an average in-person interview

Just like with in-person interviews, make sure each interview question has a specific purpose and develop a standardized system to rate each candidate’s qualifications. Use this rating system to keep track of how each candidate performs during the virtual interview process and to keep the process fair, equitable and consistent. With Indeed’s interview platform, Indeed Interview, you can take notes on how a candidate is performing right inside the platform.

Once you have completed all virtual interviews, use your rating system to determine the most promising applicants.

Related: 10 Recruiting Strategies for Hiring Great Employees

3. Prepare your interview panel

You may want multiple people from different departments, roles and backgrounds to interview candidates. With Indeed Interview, multiple interviewers can be in the same interview room (up to 50 participants), and you can hold back-to-back interviews as well.

Make sure panel members know what skills to look for when interviewing and provide them with sample questions to ask. It can also be helpful to give them an overview of how the virtual interview platform you’re using works to make sure it’s a seamless process.

4. Choose a quiet and distraction-free location to conduct your interviews

Conduct your virtual interviews in a place that is quiet and free from distractions to give your full attention. If you’re conducting your virtual interviews from home, choose a quiet room where you likely won’t be disturbed by pets, children or others.

Candidates will see whatever is behind you, so it’s important to have a neutral background so the candidate is not distracted by your environment. With Indeed Interview and other video conferencing platforms, you can blur your background to minimize any distractions. Try to keep the environment as professional as possible to mimic the setting of an in-person interview.

5. Test your connection

Be sure to test your audio, video and network connection before conducting your virtual interviews. With a good connection, you ensure that you don’t miss any part of the interview and that your video and audio are both clear. Make sure your microphone and webcam function correctly. You can also perform a practice interview with a colleague to ensure your technology works.

On the day of the interview, starting the call early helps ensure that there are no technical issues. With Indeed Interview, you also don’t have to worry if your connection hits a snag — you can always switch to phone as a fallback.

6. Send the candidate a virtual interview invitation via email

Send each candidate an invitation for the virtual interview to stay organized. The invitation should include the day and time that the interview will be held and all the information needed to access the software you’ll use for the interview. Be very clear about the format of the virtual video interview, so candidates know what is expected of them. For example, if the candidate will need an access code to log in to the interview, list this information in a prominent place in the email. Include how long you anticipate the interview lasting and add any additional documentation or information you want the candidate to have on hand during the interview.

Indeed Interview makes the process of scheduling and sending interview invites easy, suggesting multiple times for availability and allowing you to add additional details (who they’ll be interviewing with, topics covered, etc.). The interview invite email sent to the candidate allows them to confirm the interview, decline or to suggest new times for the interview. Leading up to the interview, candidates will also be sent reminders and interviewing tips. Learn more about interviewing on Indeed.

7. Dress professionally

Even though you may be conducting the interview from home or another remote location, it’s important to dress professionally to make a good first impression. This conveys your commitment to professionalism and shows that you take the interview process seriously even when conducting interviews remotely. This may help a candidate feel more confident about your business.

How to conduct a virtual interview

Here are 7 steps to take when conducting a virtual interview with a candidate:

1. Introduce yourself and make the candidate comfortable

At the beginning of the interview, take a few minutes to confirm that the candidate’s connection is working and that they have the required tools installed and properly configured.

It’s important that candidates feel comfortable so they can better showcase their experience, skills and knowledge. Introduce yourself by talking about your role at the company and go over the interview agenda. This can help reduce the stress factor of not knowing who they’re dealing with or what to expect from the interview.

2. Conduct the virtual interview as you would an in-person interview

Virtual interviews can seem more casual than in-person interviews, but it’s important that you treat remote interviews just as you would those that you hold in your office. Use professional language, including body language, and remain focused. Turn off your phone and computer notifications to avoid distractions. Give the candidate your undivided attention and make direct eye contact by looking at your computer’s camera instead of the screen. Let the candidate know if you’ll be taking notes during the interview.

Related: Interviewing Strategies for New Hires

3. Ask your prepared questions

Use the list of questions you prepared to stay on track. Consider asking follow up questions along the way to gain all the relevant information you need from candidates. Follow up questions encourage candidates to think more critically about a specific topic. Examples include: “Why do you think that is?” and “What was the outcome?” When asking follow up questions, use the STAR interview format, which can support candidates with structuring a response to your questions.

For each question, make a note of the candidate’s answer so you can review them later.

4. Give the interviewee time to answer

At times, there may be a lag when using a computer or phone to conduct an interview. To account for this lag, provide the candidate with plenty of time to respond. If the candidate cuts out during their response, ask them to repeat their answer to ensure you hear everything the interviewee has to say.

5. Discuss your company’s culture and values

Holding virtual interviews can make it challenging for candidates to get an idea of what your company culture and office environment are like. Inform each candidate of what they can expect in terms of your company’s culture and the values your company follows. You can also describe the workplace environment to give the interviewee a better idea of what to expect if you hire them.

During and after the interview, think about how a candidate’s diverse background can add value to your team, instead of how they’d fit in with your current culture.

6. Provide information on what the candidate can expect going forward

At the end of each virtual interview you conduct, inform the interviewee of what they can expect going forward. Let them know when you plan to choose a candidate for the position, how you will inform candidates on whether or not they got the job and if you require additional information from the candidate for consideration.

52% are extremely likely to move forward in the interview process if they hear back within 48 hours

7. Give candidates the opportunity to ask questions

Always leave enough time for the candidate to ask questions of their own near the end of the video interview. The 80/20 rule can help guide this (80% of the interview should be spent listening to the candidate and 20% spent talking).

¹Indeed data (worldwide)
²Indeed data (worldwide)

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