Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.
How to Conduct Successful Remote Video Interviews
This revolutionary remote working experiment is well underway. Welcome to the new world, where video interviews are a reality, and nearly 100 percent of hiring managers will soon be using them in some way to more quickly and efficiently screen candidates.
Conducting remote interviews may seem scary or stressful if you’ve never done it before. Even if you have, there are best practices that can help take your interviewing skills to the next level.
Your candidates may be more well versed than you are with video interviewing, as many staffing agencies have led the way in embracing this technology. Much of the same advice for in-person interviews also applies to video interviews, but there are some unique aspects of the interview you need to be prepared for.
Set Your Background
Proper lighting and background are important to consider. Natural lighting works best. Do not perform a Zoom interview or record a video interview in your car, outdoors, or in your home with children or pets in the background making noise. Make sure you are in a well-lit, clutter-free room and there are no personal objects behind you. No one needs to be distracted by your family photos, yesterday’s coffee mug or a disorganized desktop.
Check for technical issues such as internet bandwidth and noisy feedback. Get that all ironed out before the actual call so you can ensure there are no technical glitches. Audio connections can sometimes be quirky. Because so many people are consuming internet bandwidth right now, consider conducting your video interviews using your mobile phone (not computer) audio.
Practice Your Questions
This advice is often given to job seekers before an interview, but it can be equally helpful for the interviewer. Practice what you’re going to say and run through some of the interview questions you want to ask. Get a notepad or open a word processing document on your computer so you’re prepared to take notes.
Prep Your Candidate
When an interview is on-site, most candidates know what to expect. They’ll enter the building, let the front desk know they’re there for an interview, be shepherded into an interview room, etc. A remote interview is a different ballgame, and your candidate may not know what to expect—and possibly has never participated in a remote interview before. Set them at ease by communicating and preparing them for what to expect.
Give your candidate an outline. This helps them know what to expect and when to speak. The outline can include the interview start time, the name of the interviewer and anyone else they will be meeting, and the general order of events.
Make sure you provide login details for Zoom or whatever other software you're using on your calendar invite, so that the interviewee doesn’t have to scramble at the last minute.
Close Out your Apps
It’s a good idea to close out any apps you have running before beginning the interview. Email or Facebook notification sounds might seem unprofessional to the interviewee and will distract you. The only thing you should have in front of you during a Zoom interview is the candidate resume/notes. If you are looking away from the camera frequently, you will come across as disinterested.
Maintaining natural eye contact during a video interview means you look at the camera and not the screen. Make sure you smile, nod your head in agreement and use words of acknowledgment when the interviewee is speaking such as “yes”, “ok” or “hmm”.
Rule of thumb on remote etiquette: If you wouldn’t do it in a face-to-face interview, don’t do it remotely (e.g. eating, yawning, wiping your nose).
Unfortunately, unexpected disruptions may still occur (on both sides of the video interview). Try to handle these with grace. After all, IT pros know something unexpected can happen at any time and this is a good way to showcase your cool head. “Excuse me, we seem to have a poor connection, would you mind if we disconnect and call back?” It is critical that you do not get flustered or show impatience.
Observing Body Language
Body language and appearance matter. Video makes people feel more engaged because it allows team members to see each other’s emotions and reactions, which immediately humanizes the room.
Measure the characteristics you can’t just get from voice alone: Eye contact, level of engagement, energy level. Are they smiling? How do they present themselves? Do they have good client-facing skills?
Do these things well and you are setting yourself up for success in interviewing and hiring remotely. Good luck and happy interviewing!