• Virtual interviews have gone mainstream: 44% of job seekers have interviewed virtually for a position, while only 12% of employers say they have never conducted this type of interview.
  • Over half (52%) of job seekers say interviews are the best way for them to present themselves authentically in the hiring process, so it’s crucial for employers to make virtual interviews work well for everyone.
  • According to job seekers, virtual interviews bring added convenience and comfort: 45% like being able to interview from anywhere, and 37% feel less intimidated interviewing remotely.

When many companies closed their doors and sent workers home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also changed the game for job seekers. Like so much else in our lives — from team meetings at work to birthday parties, school and even weddings — the job search went online. 

Virtual interviews also became widespread, thanks to their many benefits: they aren’t just important for COVID-19 safety, they allow job seekers to interview from anywhere and reduce the stress of traditional interviews. Virtual interviewing is a key feature of Indeed Hiring Events, the new, comprehensive hiring solution from Indeed; these innovations won’t simply disappear in a post-pandemic world, making this an important time to pause and reflect on how best to use them. 

So how have job seekers adapted to this transition, and how might employers better serve them?

To learn more about attitudes toward virtual interviews, Indeed surveyed 500 job seekers and 500 employers from diverse sectors across the U.S. Here, we draw on our research findings to show employers how job seekers feel about virtual interviews so that they can better design a virtual hiring journey that lets each candidate shine. 

Only 12% of employers say they “never” conduct interviews using virtual platforms 

So what did we find? First, almost all job seekers believe COVID-19 will change the future of work — only 8% of job seekers say otherwise. While many of these changes remain to be seen, virtual interviews are a striking example of one innovation that is here to stay and gaining in popularity. 

In fact, virtual interviews are already more mainstream than many might realize: only 12% of employers say they “never” conduct interviews using virtual platforms, and 44% of job seekers have participated in virtual interviews. 

Interestingly, we find significant differences among the types of job seekers who have and have not yet interviewed virtually. For instance, 54% of men have interviewed remotely as compared to 37% of women. Significant age differences also exist: 52% of Gen-Z job seekers have done virtual interviews compared to 47% of millennials and 42% of Gen-Xers — while a mere 27% of baby boomers say the same. 

Job seekers with a college degree are also more likely to have interviewed virtually (57%) than their peers with less education (34%), although this could potentially change as more employers adopt this method. 

Interestingly, while 50% of employed job seekers have interviewed remotely, only 27% of unemployed candidates have done so. 

Remote interviews alleviate job seeker anxieties about transportation, lateness, more

When it comes to the upsides of virtual interviews, job seekers cite several factors: 45% cite not having to travel to a physical location as a bonus, with 26% specifically mentioning alleviated transportation worries; 45% like being able to interview from anywhere. 

Interestingly, 37% of job seekers say they feel less intimidated during remote interviews, and 31% are no longer anxious about arriving late. 

A positive interview experience can transform the hiring process for everyone involved. Over half of job seekers (52%) say interviews provide the most accurate portrait of their abilities, so a  more comfortable, user-friendly approach helps them put their best face forward — and gives employers a more accurate assessment opportunity. 

Job seekers learning new norms and etiquette for virtual interviews 

Of course, since virtual interviews are still new to many, it is to be expected that candidates will experience a learning curve as they learn the ropes. By gaining insights into their concerns now, employers can work to create a virtual interview process that works for everyone. 

Understanding the vibe of their potential future workplace is a significant concern for many job seekers: 34% worry about how to assess company culture and working environment while remote, and this number jumps to 40% among job seekers with a college degree. 

Overall, 33% of job seekers feel they cannot clearly convey their personalities as well in a virtual interview as they can in person. 

Nearly one-quarter of all respondents (23%) say they are unfamiliar with professional norms, etiquette and expectations in digital interviews — and the figure jumps to 34% among baby boomers, versus 19% for millennials. 

Meanwhile, 30% of baby boomers worry about their overall familiarity with the technological aspects of virtual interviewing, such as how to troubleshoot problems with the actual platforms, compared with 19% of job seekers overall. 

Younger job seekers face different hurdles: 21% of Gen-Zers lack a private place to conduct a virtual interview compared to 11% of all job seekers. 

Support job seekers to make virtual interviews a positive experience for all

Examining job seekers’ top pain points can help employers identify areas for improvement. To provide a level playing field for all candidates interviewing virtually, employers might consider the following strategies:

Offer a list of best practices: Whether a seasoned virtual interviewee or a novice, job seekers need to know employer expectations for online interviews. As with any interview, be sure to let them know the basics prior to the big day. 

Recruiters should walk candidates through the ins and outs of how the interview will work, but a cheat sheet can help allay additional worries: be sure to include information about virtual backgrounds, dress code, headphones and other key details so they can plan accordingly.

Provide technical support and training materials: Some job seekers might be less familiar with the technological aspects of virtual interviews, but don’t let this place them at a disadvantage. 

Instead, provide technical guidance prior to the interview to help them better understand how the platform works and make sure they know what to do if glitches arise.

Share FAQs and highlight troubleshooting beforehand: Many applicants will likely have the same questions, such as what to do if their audio cuts out, outside noise erupts midinterview or roommates, pets or children accidentally appear in the background. 

A clear, concise list of FAQs can help put job seekers at ease and let them know they won’t be assessed by small gaffes that are outside of their control.

Strategize ways to convey company culture virtually: Even if they’re not in the office, potential hires still want to know what it’s like to work for a company. 

When engaging with candidates, be sure to highlight aspects of the company’s culture and lifestyle that set it apart from competitors. Don’t just talk about company values, but show how they work in action and why employees love what they do. 

Strengthening virtual interviews means big benefits for job seekers and employers

As virtual job interviews become more common, Indeed’s research findings listed above can help employers tailor their approaches to job seekers’ needs. While the majority of employers now use virtual interviews at least some of the time, less than half of job seekers are personally familiar with this method — and many need help with the adjustment.

We see that older generations are more concerned with the technological details of interviewing virtually, while younger job seekers are apprehensive about finding an appropriate location for the interview. Candidates also worry about how to assess company culture when they don’t set foot in the office, and they want to hear firsthand what sets an employer apart from the pack.

Virtual interviews have tremendous potential to transform hiring for candidates and employers alike. By taking the time to address job seekers’ main concerns and anxieties about this increasingly mainstream approach, companies can design a more effective and equitable process — and help talent shine.