How to Facilitate a Successful Virtual Interview
The following Voice of Business Blog post was submitted by Solü Technology Partners. Learn more at solutechnology.com!
The goal of the interview process is to assess to what degree a candidate’s qualifications align with the job requirements, environment, culture, and values. As remote interviews are new territory for many companies, we have found that the simplest way to facilitate remote interviews is to treat the interview as if you were meeting the candidate in person.
We understand there are differences, so we have outlined some key considerations 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. Before the interview, they should know all the details of the job description, what skills are needed for the position, what the requirements are, and be familiar 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 one 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’s 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 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 don’t start on time, you send a message to the candidate that their time is not valued.
Before 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 disorganized. 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 a 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, and an idea of a typical day. 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:
- Dress appropriately: if your work environment is business-professional, wear the appropriate dress code (even at home, virtually)
- Use core values throughout the interview: for example, at Solü, integrity is ingrained in everything we do. Use the word multiple times throughout the interview and carry yourself with integrity (you can do this virtually, too).
- 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
- Body language: sit up tall, don’t move around, and organize
your desk – this will give the candidate nonverbal ques that you take pride in both yourself and your company
- Give the candidate time to respond: this will also display a level of respect, which may seem obvious, 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 straightforward, but you want to avoid talking over each other, asking the same questions repeatedly, or being disorganized. 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 the timeline for decision making, additional interviews needed, etc. Also, discuss how each step will be communicated to the candidate (and again, the timeframe for a response). Explain to the candidate whether your company is working remotely, in-person, or in a hybrid model.
As previously discussed, treat as much of the interview as if it were in-person. While there are some limitations to technology, 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 an effective interview.
About Solü Technology Partners:
Solü Technology Partners is a national technology staffing and software solutions provider headquartered in Rochester, New York, with offices in Syracuse, New York; Phoenix, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. For more than 25 years, Solü has been recognized as a trusted partner who provides value-added solutions and IT services to its clients, while providing 500+ employees across the U.S. with rewarding and challenging career paths. Learn more at solutechnology.com.