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.
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