Facilitating a Virtual Interview

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Part two of our Virtual interview series from a hiring perspective
May 4, 2021
Written by Mackenzie Spencer, Marketing Specialist for Solü Technology Partners
In a previous blog we discussed key insights into how a candidate can make an impression during a virtual interview. This is part two, where we will discuss how to facilitate a virtual interview from a hiring perspective.

The goal of the Solü interview process is to assess to what degree a candidate’s qualifications align with the job requirement as well as customer environment, culture, and values. As many companies, we have also had to adapt to the changing work environment to provide the same level of quality in a remote environment.

Although remote interviews are not a new territory for our team, it is to many people. We have found that the simplest way to be successful with facilitating remote interviews is to treat the interview as if you were meeting the candidate in person. We understand there are glaring differences, so we have outlined key factors for a successful remote interview.

Prior to the interview

The interviewer should prepare for the interview just as if the candidate were coming in to meet in person.  Prior to the interview, they should know all the details of the job description, what skills are needed for the position, what the requirements are and familiarize themselves with the candidate’s background, resume, or even LinkedIn profile. Prepare relevant questions. You may have a list of standard questions, review them to make sure they apply to this job opportunity. Also, understand what the best response would be from the candidate. For example, let’s say you are hiring for a Java Development role. The candidate will need Java development experience, but is 1-year enough? How hands-on was their experience?

Create an Agenda

Always start an interview with the introductions, this should take about 5 minutes of a 60-minute interview. In a virtual environment it is difficult to read body language. The interviewer can ease tensions in the introduction by asking more about a candidate; this can be asking the candidate to expand on a work history, job location change, etc. If you sent the virtual invite, include a high-level agenda in the invite.

Be on-time, or early

Show up or start the meeting a few minutes early. Many virtual conference platforms have the “waiting room” ability, turn that feature on so you can start the meeting when the team is ready and then let the candidate in. If you have to wait for additional interviewers to start or you do not start on time, you send a message to the candidate that their time is not valued.

Eliminate Distractions

Prior to the interview: check the conference link, close emails, move or silence your phone, and make sure you are in a quiet space within your house (or office). The candidate deserves your full attention. After all, you are representing your organization and showing up distracted will communicate that the organization’s culture is demanding or unorganized. 3 out of 4 candidates will share a negative experience online, you do not want the first impression of your company to be a negative one.

Discuss company culture and values

Virtual interviews can make it challenging for candidates to get sense of your company culture and office environment. Therefore, stating your company’s values and what the culture is like will help them paint a picture. You will also want to communicate what their work-life will look like. For example, if the position is fully remote, explain how the team collaborates in a remote environment, what the team is like, give the candidate an idea of what a typical day would be like. However, simply telling them is not enough, you need to present yourself in a way that represents the culture.

A few ways you can represent culture without saying a word:

  1. Dress appropriately: if your work environment is business-professional, wear the appropriate dress code (even at home, virtually)
  2. Use Core Values throughout the interview: for example, at Solu integrity is ingrained in everything we do. Use the word multiple times throughout the interview and carry yourself with integrity (even virtually you can do this)
  3. Make eye contact with the candidate: this will help the candidate feel respected. It seems simple, but it is more difficult to make eye contact virtually. Practice during internal meetings prior to conducting interviews
  4. Body language: sitting up tall, not moving around, or organizing whatever might be on your desk – this will give the candidate nonverbal ques that you take pride in both yourself and your company
  5. Give the candidate time to respond: this will also display a level of respect, which may seem obvious to do, but cutting them off or not giving them enough time to respond may deter a candidate from wanting to accept the position. This also displays that you value your employee’s opinions prior to them even “stepping foot in the door”

Meet with the team ahead of time

If the interview will have multiple parties (managers, team members, executives, etc.) discuss roles during the interview. Usually the roles are straight forward, but you want to avoid talking over each other, asking the same questions repeatedly or being unorganized. If you have too many individuals attending the interview, can you implement a multistep interview process?

Provide the candidate with next steps in the process

At the end of the interview, provide the candidate with what they can expect next. Explain timeline for decision making, additional interviews needed, etc. Also, discuss how each step will be communicated to the candidate (and again timeframe for response). Since this is a virtual interview, we are to assume you are working through Coronavirus procedures. Explain to the candidate how your company is handling either fully remote work, coming into the office, or a mix of both. Then assure them if they will be going into a building about what safety protocols are in place and provide them with an additional contact (if available) if they have further questions.

As previously discussed, treat as much of the interview as if it is in-person. We understand there are limitations to technology, but if you present yourself the same way virtually as you would in person, the interview will be more successful. Remember the candidate is also interviewing your organization, so following these simple recommendations will help you conduct a more successful interview.


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