How to Deliver a Great Candidate Experience During Virtual Interviews

Jen Nyman

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our daily lives. People are no longer able to do many of the things they are accustomed to, such as socializing with friends in person or dining out at restaurants. Though many aspects of life are on pause, companies continue to hire. And with that, recruiters and hiring managers must reevaluate how they identify and interview top talent. One key change for many organizations is moving from face-to-face interviews to virtual interviews. 
 

So how can recruiters and hiring managers identify the right candidate in this new climate? And what can candidates rely on when a firm handshake is no longer the telltale first impression?
 

Below are 6 tips to conduct a successful virtual interview:

 

1. Test your technology 

Prior to the interview, take the time to ensure your internet connection is stable. It is also a good idea to make sure your computer is functioning properly. I recommend testing your audio and video, too. Practice makes perfect! Encourage candidates to test the technology prior to the scheduled interview as well. 
 

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers should always have a backup plan in case of tech failure. You can always share your phone number with your candidate prior to the call. 

 

2. Set up interviewees for success 

Interviewing for a new job can be stressful regardless of the format. Many candidates have never had to interview virtually. As recruiters, it is our job to eliminate as many “unknowns” as possible. By eliminating stressful situations, candidates are able to focus their attention on sharing their relevant experience.
 

A couple days before the interview, send an email to candidates with interview guidelines. Some suggested items to include are:
 

  • The estimated length of the interview
  • Who the candidate will be meeting with during the interview
  • The interview panel’s expectations
  • The type of technology that will be used, and how to access them

 

3. Showcase your company culture

One of the most difficult things to “see” during a virtual interview is the culture of an organization. For many candidates, culture, mission, and values are critical factors in their job selection process. 
 

As you can imagine, it is difficult for recruiters to display culture from their living rooms. Providing candidates with a virtual office tour is one way to show off your culture. In the current situation, it might be impossible to record new video content. One idea is to incorporate a video of still pictures that you may have collected over the years that highlight your company culture. You can also consider sending along any company content such as employee testimonials, blogs, articles, or videos that reinforce your company DNA.
 

Focus your conversations on your company’s culture and find ways to connect who you are as an organization with the candidate’s own strengths and personal values. For a panel interview, make sure to prepare each interviewer and remind them to highlight these intangible benefits as part of their video interview. It is important that candidates are given a consistent portrayal of culture at every stage in the interview process.

 

4. Go in with a strategy for addressing any tricky candidate questions

Being fully prepared for an interview and the questions the candidate will ask you is even more important now than ever. One way to be prepared is to take time to research what is being said about your own company on job review sites such as Glassdoor and Comparably. For any negative feedback, many candidates just want to hear that the company is taking this seriously and actively addressing the issue. Consider keeping track of candidate responses with an interview scorecard that is consistently used throughout your organization. 

 

5. Practice your active listening skills

Active listening is a skill that needs to be practiced to really master it. While many people today are accustomed to “hearing” what someone is saying, giving your full attention requires listening with all of your senses. With that in mind, it is important to minimize distractions during a video interview. A good idea is to turn off your emails and silence your cell phone during the scheduled time. 
 

One way to become a better listener is to approach each interview with the goal of learning something new. Another way to ensure you are truly listening to your candidate is to summarize what you hear and ask questions to check your understanding.

 

6. Follow up with candidates after the interview 

It is common for candidates to send a “thank you” after they attend an interview. However, now is a great time to add another layer. Recruiters can now follow up with each candidate after an interview to thank them for being adaptable to this new interview format. 
 

Evaluating candidates virtually definitely has its limitations; however, the fundamentals of interviewing still hold true for video interviews. While many recruiters have been forced into conducting virtual interviews, there is a silver lining. For one, candidates do not have to spend time and money traveling to interviews. In addition, scheduling is easier and the process can move along more quickly!
 

As recruiters, we need to make sure that we are communicating effectively and frequently. We must paint a clear picture of what it’s like to work at our organizations, so they can truly imagine what it is like to work at our company.  If we do these things, we will be on our way to finding  great talent for our organizations, even from afar!
 


Before the interview, it's also important to be empathetic and deliver the right messages to your talent pool. Learn how to in our on-demand webinar, Campaigning to Candidates with Empathy.