Top Tips For Conducting Video Interviews

man suit video interview
Taking care with presentation is very important

A lot more interviews are being conducted via video, be it Skype or Zoom or another system and Hiring Managers who may be unfamiliar with the format may be missing out on great candidates due to a lack of organisation or fear of the new way of doing things. We have compiled some points to make the two-way video interview a lot easier.

1. To pre-screen or not to pre-screen?

Pre-screening interviews are now taking place much more often in the time of Covid and seem to be edging out phone interviews as the first step of the recruitment interview process.

Setting up a one-way interview where the prospective candidate answers questions in order to find whether they are a good enough fit to put through to the two-way video interview can work for some companies and not for others. It is generally thought to suit entry-level candidates rather than those with a lot of experience under their belts. Entry-level prospects can be sifted through with minimal resources whereas experienced candidates may be surprised that they have not been put through to a two-way interview based on their CV. If you have a large number of candidates, a pre-screening one-way interview will be most helpful. There should not be too many questions, so that the answers given can be compared and contrasted easily, and the questions should be of a more surface level variety, perhaps focusing on their goals or academia. This is not the place to go in-depth. There should be a practice question to put the candidate at ease with the process and the candidate should be allowed to choose their best ‘take’.

If candidates do not make it through to the next round, the interviews are still a treasure trove of data to help your recruitment in the future. Another reason why the pre-screen is a good idea is because it can make candidates more confident with the process going forward. It stream-lines communications and allows candidates to take part at a time of the day that best suits them.

2. Who, Where, Why, What and How?

Interview questions should be prepared in advance and cover all of the topics you want to include. There should be a mix between hard and soft skill questions, product or company knowledge, previous work experience, personality and ambitions. You must always factor in the time that it will take to ask and answer these questions when selecting a timeframe for the interview schedule. Too short a time and you will have to move onto the next interview before you have fully ascertained that the current candidate is a great fit for the company.

The types of questions used should be ‘Background’, which analyse their academic success and career highlights, ‘Ambitions’, looking at whether their desires for the new role are well-founded or unrealistic and ‘Expectations’, which analyse whether the candidate would be a good fit within the company’s culture.

3. Body Talking

When asking questions one should always be looking at the webcam, rather than the screen. As with a face-to-face interview, during an video interview, breaking of eye-contact or a lack of eye-contact can seem to signal deception, even if that is not the case. You should be sitting in a comfortable chair and be sitting up straight, not hunched over.

Your body language should be open. In addition, you should close all of the other browser windows and mute any alerts, as the candidate will become distracted if you become distracted. Also, make sure to smile when appropriate in order to put the candidate at ease.

4. Setting the Scene

The webcam should be set at eye-level. You may need to put some heavy books or sturdy boxes underneath it to physically lift up your laptop. Just having the laptop on a desk below and you tilting the screen up will result in the camera pointing upwards so the candidate will get a good view right up your nose. That angle can also make the candidate nervous as it appears you are looking down at them from on high.

You should choose a well-lit space, whether it is well-lit by artificial or sunlight coming in through a window in front of you. Try not to select a space where the window is behind you as this can cause an effect known as ‘silhouetting’ which means the background will be bright, but you will be in shadows. This is not a good look when a candidate needs to see your expressions to know whether the interview is going well.

Furniture and other distractions in the background behind you should be moved around to avoid artwork that is too eye-catching, any kind of data that those who do not work at the company should not be privy to or random rubbish which makes the place look untidy and unprofessional.

5. Safety First

You should always make sure that the meeting is strictly just between yourself and the candidate. You should ensure that all other chat windows are closed, that no one can intrude with the interview either online through the video platform or in the room you are based in. Just because it is taking place over videolink does not mean it should be taken any less seriously than any other meeting or that data entrusted to you should be shown to third parties.

6. Return of the Mic

Make sure that your mic is muted if you want to discuss the candidate during the call but ideally, you will wait until the interview is over so that you have all the details you need and also to avoid incidents like the director who criticised the actor’s home during a skype call and the teachers belittling the students who made a presentation, all on open mic for the subjects of their ridicule to hear.

The level of professionalism that you would conduct yourself with during a face-to-face interview must be the same as within a video interview environment. Just because you are not in the room with the candidate, it does not mean that they are an abstract concept. They are real human beings with real feelings.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

6 Reasons Hiring Managers and Recruiters Clash

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Recruiters and Hiring Managers Can Experience Problems

Hiring Managers and Recruiting Professionals are all aiming at the same target: sifting through and selecting the prime candidates for the roles required. Yet despite a shared goal, the relationship can become fraught.

1. The Time Factor

The relationship can become tense. With the pressure to deliver, a recruiter may be faced with a shortfall of candidates, while a hiring manager will be under pressure from higher management to fill the positions quickly. On paper, some candidates may seem lacking. Experienced recruiters, well-versed in reading between the lines of resumes, will see potential in the prospects but if the hiring manager feels that they do not have the time or leeway to select candidates who are not exactly to specification, both sides can become entrenched and difficulties can erupt.

2. Expectations

Recruiters must tackle the issue of unrealistic expectations head-on and communicate the true objectives of the process. Hiring Managers may not be well-versed in data technology or whatever niche they are hiring within. Both sides want the same thing, which is to succeed and find the best candidate, but communication cannot be allowed to fall apart due to a matter of crossed wires or a simple lack of definition which should have been clarified between recruitment and hiring when they first embarked upon this journey together.

Everyone must clarify what they need from the candidate and what would be desirable from the candidate. Working from this list, they can select prospects who fit more realistically the business. There should also be regular meetings to check in on how things are going and if the parameters need to be adjusted.

3. Differing Strategy Opinions

There will always be different opinions on the hiring strategy and the length of time it takes and the stages required. It can be frustrating for both sides. Recruiters will be frustrated by a manager who doesn’t understand or makes things hard work and a manager will be frustrated if a recruiter doesn’t explain what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Recruiters must always keep in mind that they cannot do it all alone and must lean into the manager’s experience whilst appreciating that they also have other duties they must fulfil while the hiring process is underway.

Hiring managers must take into consideration that a recruiter may have experienced the same circumstances before and it may be wearing on them that they must explain themselves over and over. The manager must understand that they are a client and the recruiter is trying their best to satisfy the requirements. As long as goals are set and achieved, everyone should be happy.

4. Communications

If a hiring manager does not give the recruiter a clear job spec, this can throw a spanner in the works of a successful recruitment process. This can be because of many factors but one major one may be that the manager is unaware of all of the aspects required.

This can be remedied by the recruiter and manager working together to perform research, pinpointing the department’s role within the company perhaps with the creation of a flow chart. They must first figure out the function within the company, then how the team operates.

5. Lack of Interest

Instead of posing generic questions, both sides of the team must use a funnel to sift through the information and discover the whats, why and wherefores. A focus on the skills of the candidate and their proficiency, previous responsibilities, salary plus perks and previous structure.

A hiring manager may feel that the recruiter is more of a hit-and-run character so there should be strong efforts made to demonstrate that the recruiter is dedicated to finding the perfect candidate for the role, not just the best one who might come along.

6. Lack of Objectivity

Sometimes a bias can finds its way into the hiring process so both the recruiter and the hiring manager must be alert to this and questionable behaviour must be highlighted. In the spirit of cooperation there must be a discussion and objectionable practises must be ejected from the process. Recruiters must prepare hiring managers for the red flags to look for. There must be follow ups and discussions surrounding the decisions made so that no one is left in the dark as to why a certain decision was made. Illegal questions must be identified and removed. Relevant skills must be identified as paramount within the selection period so that the finest candidates are selected and help build a stronger company.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.

The 7 Most Challenging Aspects of Recruiting Data Experts

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We have decided to compile a list of some of the pitfalls companies encounter when they are hiring Data Experts in order to help you avoid these problems when you are hiring.

1. HR Managers who lack the skills to evaluate data experts.

Problem-solving and the ability to communicate are integral to working well within a team yet a HR Manager unfamiliar with in-depth data expert hiring practices will usually only focus on tech skills. Neglecting to examine, in fine detail, the candidates’ soft skills will result in the incorrect prospect being hired and will cause more headaches further down the line.

A lack of clarity when working out what is actually required of the hire is the main failing behind this challenge and the company should really consider whether their HR department has the required skills to fulfil the role when it comes to data science.

2. Unspecific job adverts

Companies are now coming to understand the role data plays within their business and the need to extract value from it.

The challenge comes in understanding what staff are needed to mine value in this gold rush. Specificity is the watch word here as some companies end up flailing around without a clear understanding of the skills they require for their data experts. This will alienate the most qualified prospective employees.

A reason behind this is not just a lack of understanding but because perhaps things have gotten a little too vague within data science which requires more specialism within it. The over-eagerness to hire and get started can hobble a data operation so companies should define what they need firstly, perhaps with outside advice, before recruiting.

3. Lacking a suitable technology infrastructure

Data is the future and a company needs to have the capability to succeed yet if the infrastructure is out-of-date this will be a turn off for any prospective data experts to join your team. Why bother when the environment is not conducive to achieving a ‘win’?

A recent NACE report found that, when it came to security and data analytics experts who were recruited, just under 40 percent of those who responded admitted that the business they worked for lacked a structure necessary for mine real value from their data.

If you take data seriously, you must assess your infrastructure with a clear mind and plot a course to correct this oversight before it becomes detrimental to your business. Data experts who are rightly in demand will not hang around and wait for a company to slowly make changes when time is of the essence.

4. Fighting for hiring resources

In order to attract the best data experts a company must be willing to offer a competitive salary. It all comes down to the appropriate resources being granted by higher-ups. If the bosses do not understand the inherent value of these professionals, this becomes detrimental.

Data experts are not cheap and will naturally gravitate to businesses where they feel they, and the art of data, are respected. If it is your responsibility to hire data experts, you must impress upon your managers the need for a long-term data strategy which will benefit the company in the long run.

Incentives are important and if your business refuses to pay the salaries expected within the profession and offer Employee Stock Ownership Plans, then it will be incredibly difficult to attract the talent you need to make a difference.

5. How the candidate will fit into the company

Apart from the major mistake companies make, which is a misguided belief that a data scientist must hold a PhD in order to be of any value to them, one of the most common errors is not understanding just how a data expert will slot into a team.

Hiring for these jobs takes work and understanding and there is no ‘one size fits all’ with this field. Those of an academic bent may not be best suited for corporate companies whereas someone with a more varied skillset may be perfect. Data science hiring requires a specific skillset too.

6. Hard data problems are only one aspect of data science

It must be clarified what the job isn’t, as much as what the job is. Clarification is important to find the right team for the correct stage of the data process. Often, companies put the cart before the horse.

A company may hire someone within machine learning before the data pipeline is even operational. If a company does not require a hard data specialist, they are throwing away time and resources in a misguided attempt to get to grips with an issue that isn’t really there, meanwhile the true problem festers and the business suffers.

At all points, the needs of the company must remain in focus and the correct type of candidate selected for the role. Anything else is simply counterproductive.

7. Some companies do not care about or prioritise data

While a company is interviewing a data expert, the data expert is interviewing the company. They are looking for signs that the business actually takes data seriously, that is funds it well and that it treats data scientists with respect.

If they work in analytics and will be reporting through finance, for example, that will set their mind at ease. If they have a lot of layers of management above them, that may make them reconsider as bureaucracy can hinder, especially if some or all of the management don’t really believe that data is valuable. They will look at the budget allocated, whether they have freedom to buy the tools they need or hire the support they need.

Erasing misconceptions on both sides and honesty are the real reason behind us making this point. We understand that time and resources are precious and we also understand the importance of data being treated with respect in order to become a useful tool within your business. Sometimes these issues can be tackled in-house and sometimes it requires an outside agency who can view it objectively with an expert eye.

Curious about how Zenshin Talent can help your organisation? Contact us today for a no-strings conversation about your needs and our experience.