Digital job interviews – what you look like to candidates matters!

These times have brought a lot of changes. Moving out business in digital spaces has become largely common now. It’s yesterday’s news. Even more surprising that there is still some work to do when it comes to establishing a level and professional playing field on the digital grounds. Let’s take a main component of our daily business: the job interview. As companies are adjusting to the new health and safety measures (by mostly turning their workforce into a ‘remote workforce’), human resources and talent acquisition teams are faced with a challenge of conducting (good!) candidate interviews – virtually. A video interview may not be such a revolutionary invention but they need to be taken seriously. After all, it is still as important as a good old in-person interview and leaving a good impression on a candidate remains at a very center of it. Here are a few tips to consider:

· Make sure everyone is on the same page If your standard recruiting policies and procedures are going to change due to COVID-19, it is crucial that your talent acquisition team is aware of that. So, keep in mind communicating clearly and thoroughly to your team (and possible candidates!) how interviews will be conducted to avoid (or at least minimize) possible dysfunction or confusion.

· Make sure the technology is working There is a multitude of options: Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet - just to name a few. To minimize chances of potential technical issues and maximize the candidate’s experience, do a test before actually starting an interview. Make sure your camera and microphone are properly adjusted, the internet connection is stable, the background looks neutral and, if the “share screen” feature is being used during the interview, try in out beforehand. These sound like obvious points, but believe me, I’ve seen them all go wrong!

· Make sure candidates are aware of what to expect Don’t hesitate to reach out to your candidates and let them know a few details about the upcoming interview. A quick rundown will be sufficient. A few useful things to mention are: a timeline; the names and titles of people present during the interview; tips on how to access the videoconferencing platform (what software will they need, conference room address and password, etc.); your team’s expectations for the interview (e.g. will interviewee be asked to solve a problem on the spot?) and: exchange phone numbers with your candidates as a backup in case the technology fails to work properly.

· Make sure to practice virtual company culture pitch Video interviews are great, but there is one obvious and significant drawback: a candidate can’t just walk around your office getting a taste of your company culture. But: preparing a compelling company culture pitch can compensate for that. So take the time to prepare one. It could be a short video of employee testimonials or social media posts that reflect moments of the day-to-day work of your employees.

· Make sure to be as professional as you would be for an in-person interview A video interview still represents your company and its importance should never be reduced to “just another video call”. The more presentable and professional it looks, the better are chances to employ a desirable candidate. So, remember to dress appropriately! In other words, a CEO popping on a candidate’s screen wearing sweatpants and a hoodie while sipping hot chocolate in his/her kitchen leaves a fairly ambiguous impression. Also, don’t forget to switch your phone to ‘silent’ and avoid talking to your colleagues muting your mic, if there are more than just you in a room, but take notes instead. Remember to smile, maintain eye contact, speak clearly and nod when candidate speaks – just like you would normally do. And please be aware to judge your candidate fairly, since research has shown that video interviews tend to make candidates look worse due to the absence of detailed mimics and body language. Be informed.

· Make sure to follow up A thank-you note to and a request for a feedback from a candidate will make the entire interview experience much more pleasant and round. Asking questions like “how did it go?” or “what worked and what didn’t?” can eventually evaluate your own performance and help you to avoid any potential shortcomings. Additionally, a post-interview note is a great way to tell your candidate what next steps are: either ‘a job is yours!’ or ‘sorry, you are no longer in consideration’, or maybe there is still a need for an additional interview or a background check!

Keeping things professional and following etiquette in a videoconference is a cornerstone for delivering a proper interview experience to a candidate. Don’t forget that you want to show your company’s culture, its flexibility, openness and agility. You want to be a desirable employer, act like one – also in the remote experience.

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