Create a candidate-friendly video interview experience by leveraging best practices already established for in-person interviews and video conferencing.
Welcome to video interviewing! While the technology may be unfamiliar, adding a new wrapper to the interview process does not remove the importance of basic etiquette. Luckily, a fair number of considerations that are relevant for in-person interviews are still relevant when conducting video interviews. The only difference is the medium! So, stick your chin out, fix your hair, and put on your best neutral-but-warm facial expression. Let’s revisit the basics:
#1—Keep It Relevant
For a multitude of reasons, making sure your content is job-relevant and only based on critical competencies is incredibly important. Make sure that your questions are asking about a candidate’s past performance. An example is every “Tell me about a time when” question you’ve seen. Yes, they are everywhere, that’s because they work. Whatever you do though, make sure that you are avoiding illegal questions about things like age and marital status. Steer clear of questions that could lead to the disclosure of sensitive information, such as asking about weekend plans leading to revealing parental, marital, or religious status. These are just as off-limits in video interviews as they are in in-person interviews.
#2—Probe for Detailed Responses
Your candidate has spoken for seven minutes about how they got everyone to work together, but did they answer your question? Uncomfortable as it may be at first, you need to make sure you’re probing candidates to provide details around the situation, their behavior, and the outcome (SBO). There are many forms of this type of interview questioning, but whatever approach you use, get your details. The goal of the probing questions is to obtain contextual information around the candidate’s behavior and outcome. If they cannot get there on their own, it’s your job to encourage them to share that information as naturally as possible.
#3—Standardize Questions for Consistency
Consistency is really the key here, as it is in every other aspect of the hiring process. Every candidate should have the same experience and the same opportunity to present themselves. Your job as an interviewer is to facilitate that. Be sure to create a set agenda for every interview that includes things like introductions, background questions, behavioral questions, candidate questions, and wrap-up, and next steps.
#4—Determine Scoring and Decision-making
As with every other step of the interview process, you need to ensure that you are enforcing a consistent process. Make sure that you’re scoring candidates by competency, not by individual questions. Leverage structured scoring in the form of behavioral anchors or critical incidents to help with consistency and fair evaluation. Before you even get here, make sure that you’ve outlined a process for consensus decision making if you use multiple interviewers. This could come in the form of something like a prioritization matrix. Whatever it is, make sure it encourages everyone’s input and leverages facts and data!
#5—Mind Your Manners
Everything that applies to in-person interviews applies for video interviews. Make eye contact, smile and nod, express interest in what the candidate is saying, minimize background noise and distractions to the best of your ability, and don’t forget to thank the candidate for their time.
Things to avoid include the basics: don’t fidget, tap your pen, or bounce your leg around. Avoid looking at things off-camera like your phone or a clock. Interviewers should not interrupt candidates. Wait until they are finished and redirect using “That is some really wonderful context, but if I may refocus our conversation…”.
Be mindful that in a world where many individuals are still working from home, there may be extraneous noises such as a partner also working from home, dogs barking, kids running by, all of which should be ignored when making evaluations. Finally make sure that you are respectful of the candidate, starting and ending the interview on time. A full 10% of candidates withdraw from the application process due to their time being disrespected during the interview1, so make sure you don’t fall into this category!
As you get ready to wade into the world of video interviewing, remember to keep competencies and questions job-relevant, probe for details, standardize your questions, set scoring and decision-making processes, and mind your manners.
1 TalentBoard (2019) 2019 North American Candidate Experience Research Report.