Virtual Interviewing: Things to Consider
Excerpted from a webinar facilitated by MATRIX in December 2020. Click here to watch the full recording of the webinar.
For better or for worse, remote working has permanently altered the hiring landscape. Hiring managers must face new realities when it comes to sourcing, interviewing and hiring top candidates.
Justin Thomason, VP of Recruiting at MATRIX, and Tamara Davis, VP of Talent Acquisition at Brinks Home Security, took a deep dive into the benefits and obstacles they have encountered in this new hiring landscape and offered tips on how hiring managers can function better within the world of remote work in 2021 and beyond. Below is their discussion of factors for both job seekers and hiring managers to consider when prepping for a virtual interview.
JT: Tamara, what are common characteristics or themes that you’re seeing from candidates that you've hired this year? What are they doing to stand out on these virtual interviews and how are they making themselves look attractive to you as an employer?
TD: What's interesting is the virtual interviews pre-COVID were not as good as what we are seeing today. What I've seen as of late, especially with the professional hires, I've been very impressed. People are really taking it seriously because they know they're not able to get another shot and and connect with hiring managers in a more personal or in-person way. So, we’re seeing them dress up a little bit more and prepare better for virtual interviews.
We still have some issues with lower-level positions where we do have to coach virtual interviewing tips. Let's make sure they understand what this all is because it may be completely new to them and we need to be okay with that.
Some things should seem obvious. Don't take your virtual interview in your bed. Make sure you have a good background behind you. Sit up straight. Smile and be engaged. Make eye contact, etc.
On the other hand, I think there's also a certain level of candidate that you don't want to coach and prep because you do want to see how they present themselves and come across virtually. Expectations are high that they've prepared on their own.
So, I've seen a little bit of mixing, both as a coach in areas where needed but also let some of that happen as is, so we know what we're getting, especially if this is going to be a longer-term situation.
JT: Yes. It’s interesting, even on the very high-level technology roles, where we've just got a rockstar candidate and we know this individual can code with the best of them; some managers are quick to reject candidates if they don’t think they have taken the interview seriously.
We’ve even had clients reschedule interviews at the last minute and say, ‘hey, I can't talk to you now, can we reschedule in an hour?’ And then an hour later, the candidate is driving in their car for a previously scheduled appointment, and obviously distracted during the interview. That can be a deal killer.
Another thing employers are looking at is, it's almost like an interview of your work environment. We tell candidates to keep it very buttoned up. If your kid is running by during the interview, chances are the kid is going to be a distraction when you're working for the client.
TD: You're absolutely right. But that's where I say we've got to coach the hiring managers that this is not a perfect scenario. None of us are perfect right now. We're still all trying to figure it out. So, you've got to give some leeway. Even with the best intentions, sometimes the WiFi is going to go out, or a dog's going to bark because a package just got delivered. Hiring managers are in the same situation as the candidates at home, and they probably see those things happen on meetings they have internally with their teams.
JT:I wanted to get your thoughts on virtual hiring events. We are seeing a lot more of these pop up and wanted to know if you have had any success with them?
TD: I'm a big proponent of virtual hiring events. We have toyed with them here, and we've had some success. It is not for those higher-level roles. But when you're hiring a help desk center or call center and you need volume in order to fill all those seats, we know that's not going to happen with one-to-one calls in the time frame that is needed. We had one a couple of months ago and were able to hire 100 people from it — just from a one-day virtual event.
So, we feel that virtual events can move the velocity a lot faster than we want it to by waiting on a person trying to get everybody lined up individually. Velocity is key. My phrase for 2021 is ‘be very agile’.