As businesses across the globe have moved to remote work, it’s become imperative to implement virtual hiring practices. While this period of remote work may be temporary, companies may continue to hold interviews virtually far into the future. With that, it’s critical for recruiters, hiring managers, and anyone who may be interviewing to be well-versed in virtual interviewing best practices.

Woman smiling at laptop

Getting set up

First, get everyone set up with the right tools. As a company, decide what software you’ll be using to conduct video interviews. Google Hangouts, Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are all viable options. Make sure both the person conducting the interview as well as the interviewee are aware of the platform that will be used ahead of time, that way they can download any necessary software prior to the interview.

Next up, have all interview hosts familiarize themselves with the layout and functionality of the chosen tool. In an interview, they may need to mute themselves, turn video on or off, share their screen, etc. Being able to easily maneuver through these functions (and advise the candidate how to do so) will help the conversation flow smoothly and avoid any awkward technical hiccups.

Logos of Zoom, Slack, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams

Video etiquette

Now that your team has selected a video conferencing platform and gotten familiar with the tool, let’s talk video etiquette.

Remind interviewers to be cognizant of their appearance and surroundings. While many of us have resorted to more casual attire while working from home, we still recommend dressing up a bit for video interviews. Always choose a quiet location with a neutral background and pay attention to the camera framing. The interviewee should have a clear view of the interviewer. To achieve this, center yourself in the frame, and avoid any bright light (such as windows) directly behind you, as it will cause silhouetting.

Multi-person interviews

Once you have the basics down, the next logistical hurdle is interview transitions. At a certain stage in an interview process, the candidate will likely be talking to multiple people back-to-back. There are two ways to set this up. You can either have one “meeting room” link that interviewers join during their specific time slot or you can set up a separate “meeting room” link for each interview pairing. Either solution works, just make sure it’s been communicated to your team internally and to the candidate.

While we always recommend interviews start and end on time, this is especially important in a virtual environment. You may also find it useful to create a Slack channel with the recruiter and interviewing team for real-time questions, updates, and troubleshooting.

If your company does group interviews, you'll want to do some extra prep work there as well. Video lags can make multi-person interviews especially challenging, so we recommend participants prepare and coordinate their questions ahead of time so they each know when it’s their turn to take the lead. As for technical logistics, advise anyone who’s not actively speaking to mute themselves and take a pause before speaking once un-muted to avoid lag issues.

Assessing candidates

Take a minute to recalibrate how you assess candidates and advise your team accordingly. When judging a candidate solely on virtual interactions, outline what attributes should and should not be considered. For example, it’s okay to cut a candidate some slack if the interview gets awkward due to technical glitches. However, if they choose to have the call in a chaotic location and are distracted throughout the interview, take note, as that’s likely the same environment they’d be working in.

Also take special consideration of virtual presentations. The biggest difference between an in-person presentation and a virtual one is the ability for the presenter to read the room. Interviewers should keep this in mind when assessing a candidate's presentation, and be sure to give them verbal cues and feedback so they don’t feel like they’re just speaking to a screen.

Have a backup plan

Man sitting at laptop talking on cell phone

When it comes to virtual interviewing, always have a backup plan. Prior to the interview, ask both your interviewer and interviewee to have their phone nearby in case there are issues with the conferencing tool. Make sure your interviewer has the candidate’s phone number handy so they can immediately move the conversation over to phone without delay.

Want more virtual interviewing tips? The next post in our Remote Hiring Series covers how to make candidates feel more comfortable in a virtual interview setting.