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Virtual Interviewing and Hiring – The New Frontier

08-17-2020
Jennifer Kern

Technology has never been more critical than it is now, especially for the current job market, given that companies still need to hire employees for their businesses and that many organizations are still operating remotely. As the CDC and government have asked that we continue to social distance, it has become critical for both human resources and candidates to navigate and perfect the virtual interviewing process. Even more, interest has grown in hiring “sight unseen,” where new hires start their roles before ever stepping foot into the building.

In my experience working in HR, I’ve personally had several fantastic virtual interviews with candidates. What made them exceptional was that the candidates did several things: their internet connection was excellent, so there were no delays, echoes, or fragmented screens; they also set the stage by being in a simplified location or office, which meant no distractions for either of us; the lighting was perfect; and there wasn’t any background noise, neither in their homes nor coming from their phones (notifications, text or call vibrations, etc.). Whether or not these candidates were hired or progressed, they still left impressions on me, giving me an indication of self-awareness and professionalism.

Virtual interviews are a fantastic way to allow all of us to continue the hiring process and are very similar to face-to-face interviews in many ways. That said, they do require some considerations and adjustments.

Three Things You Can Continue to Do Virtually During a Job Interview That You Have Done in Person

 

  1. Assess Preparedness: You can continue to assess candidates’ knowledge and interest in the company (i.e., do they know what your company does? Do they know the latest news or awards received? What do they know about the culture and products?).
  2. Professionalism and Self-Awareness: As the interviewer, some of the key, tell-tale signs of a candidate’s professionalism and self-awareness are their attire/appearance and whether they’re on time for the interview. You ideally want the candidate to be dressed professionally (as they would in-person), to be on time for the interview, if not early, and to ensure their background surroundings and the room they’re interviewing in are free of distractions during the virtual meeting (TVs, children, animals, roommates, etc.).
  3. Authenticity and Interest: Just as with in-person interviews, you can pick up on how interested a candidate is in the role by their eye contact (either eye-to-eye or looking into the camera), body language, and attention (such as if they are easily distracted or get off-topic).

Three Things You Can Do to Learn More About a Candidate When You Cannot Meet Them in Person

 

  1. Assess Agility: Understanding technology and how to pivot quickly using a virtual platform is vital. Whether it’s Skype, GTM, Zoom, or Facetime, sometimes internet connectivity can be an issue and watching how a candidate maneuvers and response can be an indicator of their technical readiness and creative thinking.
  2. Ask Questions: Continue to ask the same questions you would in an in-person meeting. Ensure you have reviewed the candidate’s information and resume in detail, and ask about their strengths, weaknesses, and work-related accomplishments. And don’t forget – open-ended questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no are especially effective. You’ll also be able to see how a candidate’s communication skills are (Are they elaborating and giving examples or just answering the bare minimum?).
  3. Discuss Company Culture: Interviewing is a two-way street, and not only does the candidate need to impress you, but as the interviewer, we need to talk about our core company values and culture to interest them. This will then give the candidate a chance to highlight what they like about the company and what they find essential in order to see if they are the right cultural fit.

Over the past decade, interviewing and hiring has continued to evolve in response to advances in technology. But one thing that has remained constant is that when you make the right hiring decisions, you advance your team, your company, and your career. Treat virtual job interviews the same as you would face-to-face meetings.

Continue to manage candidates’ expectations of what some of the potential next steps would be if you anticipate hiring them remotely, what they should expect, and what training is offered virtually so that they are set up for success. Lastly, let candidates know how your company plans on addressing the coronavirus situation going forward and any successes you’ve had hiring other people remotely to help put them at ease.

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