How to hire a top job candidate via video conference

Video interviews can be strange not only for a candidate, but also for the interviewer. Here are some best practices for hosting online interviews.

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The coronavirus has moved professionals out of the office and into their homes, which means, prospective employees must attempt to land jobs from home, too. The remote hiring process can be intimidating for candidates, but it's also new for many hiring teams. 

SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Interviewing via video conference is an undeniably different experience than an in-person interview; however, that doesn't mean hiring managers can't still acquire top talent. This new  process just means there are new factors hiring teams need to consider. 

The future of work is remote, as more organizations have been forced to realize they can still fully function from afar. Video conferencing, especially, isn't going anywhere, with the market predicted to grow to $11.56 billion by 2027, a Transparency Market Research report found, so  teams need to get comfortable with the tech. 

"Video interviews can sometimes feel awkward and present challenges for candidates and interviewers alike," said Amelia Green-Vamos, a Glassdoor career trends expert. "As more and more hiring managers speak to candidates via video interviews, it's important to keep several best practices in mind."

How to conduct effective video interviews 

  • Consider connectivity

For candidates and interviewers alike, having a strong internet connection is crucial to a seamless interview experience. 

"The first thing hiring managers need to take into consideration is the strength of their signal if they are on a Wi-Fi device," said Paul Wallenberg, director of technology recruiting at the LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting firm. "The best practice would be to use a computer that has a hard internet connection and a monitor that has a video camera on it. 

"The last thing you want to experience is a lag time, which can be caused when wireless bandwidth constraints exist," Wallenberg said. "Make sure that whatever device you're using has a strong signal and it is somewhere that the disruption won't be too overwhelming." 

Delays can still occur, even with a strong connection. If you notice a glitch, Wallenberg recommended the interviewer stop speaking and ask the candidate if they need anything repeated. 

  • Maintain engagement and professionalism

Hiring managers need to first make sure they give their full attention to the interviewee, just as they would in an in-person interview. 

"Remember, this is a visual interview," Wallenberg said. "The candidate will see when you are distracted and see your eyes wander. Close out all windows that are open and don't respond to messages, whether they be emails or texts coming in through your computer. 

"Give the candidate your full, undivided attention." Wallenberg said. "Look into the camera lens and not them on your screen, as that is not direct eye contact. You want to ensure they have a great candidate experience during the virtual interview process, just as they would coming into your office."

Hiring teams should also put effort into their appearance. Just because the interview is from their living room, doesn't mean they should be dressing casually, Wallenberg said. 

"You don't need to be suited but follow the same dress code as you would if you were in the office," but make sure you're dressed appropriately," Wallenberg added. 

  •  Be organized

If the interview involves more than one member of the hiring team, the manager should make sure the team is on the same page, Green-Vamos said. 

"Make sure everyone interviewing the candidate has an understanding of the job description, clear visibility into other interviewers' questions, and alignment on how to submit candidate feedback after the interview is over," Green-Vamos said. "Clear communication among teammates conducting virtual interviews is key for ensuring a smooth interview and hiring process."

The same communication should be offered to the candidate, Wallenberg added. 

"Explicitly lay out the cadence of the interview either in an agenda sent before the interview, or right at the start," Wallenberg said. 

"State how you plan to conduct the interview, whether it's going to be a conversational format where you will get their input on a topic and share your own, or if it will be a Q&A format where you will ask a question," Wallenberg noted. "When you set ground rules at the beginning, it can prevent further disruptions throughout the interview, allowing it to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible." 

Sending clear instructions to the candidate before the interview can be extremely helpful, lowering the pressure associated with the unfamiliarity of a virtual interview, Green-Vamos said. 

"It can also be difficult for interviewers to break the ice and build rapport on video," Green-Vamos said. "Interviewers should enter the conversation by providing helpful introductions and a friendly get-to-know-you question that allows the interviewer to gain insight into the candidate's personality."

For more, check out How businesses can bolster connectivity for telecommuters during the coronavirus pandemic on TechRepublic. 

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