Tips for conducting virtual job interviews

posted in: Employers | 0

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to shift their activities online. One thing that may be new to your organization is conducting virtual job interviews.

Whether you’re already an expert with online video conferencing or barely use your computer at all, virtual interviews can have some quirks (and benefits) that are best figured out before the actual interview.

Here are 3 things you can do to get the most from your next round of virtual hiring.

If you’re thinking of doing virtual hiring now, or in the near future, we can help. For more information on how we can help you with a virtual hiring event, contact us today.

1. Be prepared

Being prepared is good advice whether you’re interviewing in-person or online. You should have everything you’ll need in front of you–questions, the job description, the candidate’s resume, coffee, etc. But with virtual interviews you’ll also want to make sure you’ve got all the technical kinks worked out of your process.


Make sure you have the correct software installed. There are a range of different virtual conferencing software options that have emerged over the past several months. Your organization probably already has a preferred. Find out what program you should be using, install it on your device, and make sure you keep it up to date.


Get all of the hardware you’ll need. If you want to get the most out of your interview, you’ll want to have a camera and a mic headset. Your smartphone can probably get the job done–but for best results, you’ll want a dedicated camera and audio headset.

Set the scene

The interviewee will be able to see anything that your camera is pointed at. As best you can, set up the area behind you so it conveys the level of professionalism you’re hoping to get across. You may not be working from a fully secluded home office and may not be able to block all of the real world distractions from your screen (i.e. children, pets, door bells). But do your best. Make sure you have enough lighting so that other people can actually see you. You can also look into whatever background-replacement options are part of the software you’ll be using.

Communicate to the interviewee

Virtual interviews may be new to you, but they’re also likely new for the candidates you’ll be interviewing. Make sure your interviewee knows what’s expected–where, when, and how to access the virtual interview and if you expect them to be on camera.

Test, Test, Test

Do a test run. Ask some colleagues to try out the software with you to make sure everything works as you expect. If you come across any bugs, the real interview is not when you want to discover them.
Test out the features. Every platform has different features. You may find something useful (like the mute button or background-replacement) you weren’t expecting.
Test your internet connection. Your hardware may work great on your screen. But if your internet connection isn’t solid, you may not be able to hear or see the other people in your interview clearly. The only way to know is to test.

2. Get comfortable

If you’ve recently been working from home, you may have gotten used to some of the quirks of virtual meetings. But if you have so far managed to avoid video conferencing, you’ll want to get comfortable with the format.

Pay attention to delays in responses and people talking over one another. The back-and-forth may not be as smooth as you’d get in-person or over the phone.

If you’re the type of person who interrupts other people, you might find that is more difficult virtually (and that other people don’t like it).

If you ask someone a question and they don’t respond, you may want to ask them if they are on “mute”.

Getting comfortable with the format means getting comfortable with an element of uncertainty. No matter how much you prepare, there’s always room for technical difficulties–both on your end and from the interviewee. Although it can be frustrating to not be able to hear someone, it may not be the interviewee’s fault.

Spending some time familiarizing yourself with the format will make the interview run more smoothly for everyone.

3. Embrace the differences

While virtual job interviews have their limitations, they also have some benefits over the traditional in-person interview. After all, if the position you’re hiring for will be a remote, virtual position, it will be good to see how the candidate performs in circumstances similar to what their job calls for.

Unplanned stress test

Interviews are always stressful. But there’s nothing like troubleshooting a problem to ramp up the intensity. While you probably shouldn’t engineer a technical problem, if one happens to emerge it might give you some insight into how the candidate would handle an on-the-job stressful situation.

Group interviews

While it doesn’t make sense for all types of roles, the practice of interviewing several candidates at once (or “group interviews”) has been a part of in-person hiring for a while. Besides saving you time, these types of interviews can be helpful for getting a sense of how candidates might deal with customers. Video conferencing software is purpose-built for group discussions. If a group interview fits the role, virtual interviews could be an ideal format.

Waiting rooms

With a little bit of work and technical know-how, you can set up virtual waiting rooms. Just like an in-person waiting room, virtual waiting rooms are virtual spaces where candidates can wait prior to their interview. Unlike in-person waiting rooms, there’s practically no limit to the number of people you can have waiting and you can set up multiple rooms so that candidates can’t chat to each other before it’s their turn. This can help save you time if you need to do a lot of hiring–as with a hiring event.

Virtual interviews have become a reality for many businesses. The faster you can familiarize yourself with the format, it’s limitation, and it’s benefits, the better off your business will be.

If you’re thinking of doing virtual hiring, we can help. For more information on how we can help you with a virtual hiring event, contact us today.