Our step-by-step guide will help employers successfully conduct a remote interview with potential candidates using video technology.
As the country continues to move toward a heavily remote-focused work environment, more companies are relying on video interviewing to assess and hire candidates. Technology has advanced to the extent that video connections feel almost as personal as face-to-face connections; however, employers still need to know the basics of how to conduct a video interview to ensure a seamless experience.
Before the Video Interview
Before conducting your video interview with potential candidates, taking a few steps will ensure the process goes smoothly. Make sure you have the properly working necessary equipment, communicate with candidates about the interview process, and prepare your interview questions early.
1. Verify Technology
One of the more frequent errors that occurs when conducting video interviews is technology failure. While convenient, remote interviews can prove to be unpredictable when unstable Wi-Fi, camera, and audio issues are a factor. To avoid this, conduct a technology check several hours before the interview. Be sure to check the Wi-Fi connection in the location where the interview will be conducted and ensure the camera (whether built-in or external) and audio are working properly.
If you are not familiar with the video platform, download the appropriate apps, create a sign-in, and perform any in-app tech checks before the interview. This will save time, stress, and potential unexpected mishaps when it’s time to begin. Finally, turn off all notifications for apps that you do not wish to pop up or send alerts while you are conducting the remote interview.
2. Communicate With Candidates
For video interviews, it is imperative to communicate to your candidates in advance your expectations and the platform for the interview. Since there are multiple options for video software (Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.), you’ll need to ensure your candidates are familiar with the software you’re using to conduct the interview.
To learn more about video conferencing software, read our guide on the Best Video Conferencing Software for 2022.
Once you’ve secured the platform you will use, provide any relevant information that your candidates will need to connect to the interview well before your meeting time (preferably three days in advance, but at least 48 hours before the interview).
Some of this information might include:
- Link to the meeting
- Passcode or meeting ID, if relevant
- Notice that the candidate will need to create a username or password to join the meeting
- An alternate phone number, in case of error
3. Prepare Interview Questions
When preparing your interview questions, thoroughly read over the job description so you are familiar with the requirements of the position. Additionally, review the candidate’s resume and background so you can focus on creating a connection versus reading through bullet points on the resume for the first time.
Prepare your questions ahead of time for the remote interview so you’re not just winging it. One of the common frameworks for an interview involves asking questions about the candidate’s background and skills and then a behavior-based assessment. Many organizations are establishing structured interview questions to reduce hiring bias. Become familiar with the questions you will be asking and areas of the business you are going to be focused on.
It is a good idea to come up with an icebreaker and a way to seamlessly transition into your interview questions. When you sound prepared and confident, it sets the correct tone for the interview and increases the candidate’s confidence as an interviewer.
4. Choose a Professional Background
Making sure that any surroundings captured on video look professional can require a bit of creativity, but appearing ready for business is well worth a potential space adjustment. You’ll need to ensure that your background is clean, free of clutter, and as close to looking like an office setting as possible.
Poor lighting during a remote interview can be very distracting for your candidates, so be sure that you’re in a well-lit space. Be mindful of where you are sitting in relation to a window—if the window is behind you, it may make your image dark and difficult to see on camera. If the window is in front of or parallel to you, then there is often enough light to project a clear image.
Alternatively, many video conferencing software have options to choose a different background. These are backgrounds that are superimposed behind the subject (you) and give the appearance that you are in a specific location. Options can include blur (which blurs out the background behind you), landscape (typically shows nature), or office spaces (many give the feel that you are in an industrial office space).
During the Video Interview
While you are conducting your video interview with potential candidates, be sure to maintain a professional atmosphere. Remember that it is a job interview, so you should dress accordingly and keep the tone of the interview professional.
5. Display Professionalism
One of the benefits of video interviewing is that it creates an opportunity to feel more physically comfortable. However, remember that you are a representative of your organization, and a professional presence is always appropriate, especially when conducting an interview.
During the actual video interview, make eye contact and avoid interrupting. Remember that although you will be tempted to look at the screen while interviewing, your candidate will feel like you’re making eye contact when you’re looking directly into the camera. Try to position the camera as close to your natural line of sight as possible, especially if you are using an external webcam.
Since there can often be a slight delay via video, be sure the person you are interviewing is completely done with their thought before chiming in. Not unlike an in-person interview, it is difficult to decipher what is being said if two people are talking at the same time.
For more tips on professionalism read our article on How to Interview Someone for a Job.
6. Set the Tone & Voice
What you say and how you say it matters. Remember that it is difficult for subtle cues to be picked up on video—even if we often use them in person. Therefore, the tone, language, and pitch of the conversation become the primary tool for engagement.
You can project confidence and maturity by being prepared for the remote interview, which will increase your comfort level and cause your vocal pitch to lower a bit. Avoid filler words (such as ah, um, like, or you know). Overusing words and phrases like these can make you appear as if you lack confidence. If you’re not sure whether or not you use filler words, record yourself and listen to the playback.
7. Record & Take Notes
During the interview be sure to notify the candidate that you will be recording the video. Video recording services will allow you to record the video during your interview, enabling you to watch the video at a later time to glean information you may have missed during the initial interview.
Additionally, be sure to take notes both during the initial interview and when rewatching. Your notes should be reflective of how you felt about the candidate’s answers to your interview questions. Use our Free Interview Evaluation Forms & Scorecard Templates to help you with note taking.
8. Have a Backup Plan
Technology is not guaranteed to always work correctly. Keep this in mind and have a backup plan in case things go wrong during the interview (or before). It is a good idea to have the candidate’s phone number and let them know you will perform a regular phone interview in the event that a video interview is not working. Alternatively, you can opt to reschedule the interview for a later date if you are unable to connect with the candidate at their scheduled interview time.
After the Video Interview
Once the video interview is completed, be sure to save your recording and notes for further reviews. It is also good business etiquette to follow up with each candidate.
9. Allow Time Between Interviews
Oftentimes, when trying to fill positions, it is tempting to schedule back-to-back interviews. However, it is important to give yourself time after an interview to process your thoughts and prepare for the next one. Additionally, if you schedule remote interviews back-to-back, this could mean that a potential new hire could be waiting alone on a call while you’re finishing up or, worse, could dial into a meeting that you’re already on. There are a few important points to keep in mind to avoid these scenarios:
- Schedule meetings far enough apart to avoid overlap: Schedule interviews with at least a 15-minute gap between them.
- Use different links for different meetings: Although it takes more preparation, send different meeting links to each candidate.
- Use a waiting room feature: Some video interview software have special features that allow you to adjust settings so you have to allow people into your room once they click on the link. You’ll see them in the waiting room, but the software won’t automatically let them enter the meeting; this prevents unexpected interruptions and can buy you some time.
Finally, log on to each video interview at least three minutes early. This will give you an opportunity to properly greet each candidate and avoid a candidate sitting on video, awaiting your presence.
10. Review Recording & Notes
Once you have completed a video interview be sure to review the recording and notes taken with other decision makers in your company. Most video platforms provide a transcript along with the video that may help in your review of your own meeting notes.
Organize your notes so others in your company can use them to make critical hiring decisions. Get specific about what you liked and didn’t like about the candidate and rate them on your belief that they can or cannot perform the job.
11. Follow Up
You should always follow up with your candidate to communicate next steps. Even if you don’t yet have a decision, keeping candidates in the loop as to the status of their application can alleviate stress and anxiety. Even if you are communicating that your company will not be moving forward with an offer, candidates appreciate the extra step of letting them know in a timely manner.
Learning how to conduct a video interview can open up more opportunities to find the right new hire as it allows you to interview people beyond your company’s location. Many hiring managers are opting to interview this way as it simplifies the process and makes it easier on both the job seeker and the hiring manager. As with all interview styles, though, there are positive aspects and pitfalls to avoid, so it’s important to prepare well to get the most out of the process.