companies preparing for virtual interviews during covid-19 pandemic

How Companies Can Prepare for a Virtual Interview in the Wake of Covid-19

by Steve Yakesh

By the hour, the threat and disruption caused by the spread of Covid-19 increases. As positive tests continue to soar, and as the CDC pleads for people to avoid groups of 10 or more, companies are scrambling to move their work operations remote so their employees can safely practice social distancing. But business must go on, which for many companies begs the question: How should we conduct our job interviews?

By holding virtual job interviews. 

Virtual interviews will be a novel experience for many organizations and job candidates alike, so we decided to put together this list of tips for you to prepare for a virtual interview. 

1. Test Your Video Technology

First and foremost, companies must determine how they’re going to carry out their virtual job interview. The big question you need to answer is whether you’ll incorporate video or simply use the phone. We highly recommend that you try to integrate video if possible, as it will allow you to best simulate a real, in-person interview.

There is no shortage of virtual options to utilize video conferencing for a virtual job interview. Skype, UberConference, FaceTime, and Teams are just a few to consider. 

Before your virtual job interview takes place, make sure you test out your video provider to ensure things will run smoothly. Things to check on include:

  • That your account is up to date
  • The latest software update has been installed
  • Learn any new features the software has added since your last use
  • Connection speed

2. Set the Scene

Just as you would if your interviewee was coming into the office, you want to make sure that you have set a professional scene for your virtual interview. While testing your technology, determine where in your remote location to have the conversation. Find a room with good lighting (being near a window helps) and a blank, clean wall. You want to be the focal point of the interview so that your interviewee is focused on your questions and answers, not on the piece of art hanging behind you. Turn off any audio distractions such as a television or radio that could be picked up by the video conference audio. 

Also, tidy up your surroundings. You wouldn’t have a bunch of clutter in the office when interviewing a candidate in person.

3. Webcam Body Language and Posture

Before your virtual interview, spend some time monitoring your body language and posture by watching yourself on your video conference tool. The angle of your computer’s camera and the chair you’re sitting in can have a significant impact on how you present on your interviewee’s screen. You don’t want to spend the first few minutes of the interview shuffling around with your camera to find your best light and angle. 

We’ve all taken photos where we’ve wished the photographer would have tried a different angle to allow ourselves to showcase our best selves. The same is true with video conference feed. Figure out a configuration that will enable you to interview with confidence.

4. Dress the Same

One of the perks of working remotely is that employees do not have to spend the time getting ready and dressed for their day. However, if you’re hosting a virtual job interview, you need to dress the part.

How would you dress if the interview was taking place at your office? That is exactly what you should wear for your virtual meeting. If you are wearing your favorite sweats and an old college t-shirt on your video interview, the candidate will think that you’re not taking it seriously and that they’re not receiving the same experience that they would with an in-person experience.

5. Acknowledge the Circumstances

While your goal is to make this experience as similar to a regular interview as possible, you’ll want to acknowledge that this isn’t a normal circumstance. Thank your interviewee for agreeing to interview virtually and make a comment on how unordinary this interview is—or the dozens of other unordinary things that are happening due to the pandemic. 

This experience is probably just as new to them as it is to you. By letting them know you’re in it together, you can accelerate the connection between the two of you, and allow them to be comfortable during the course of the interview. 

6. Be Your Normal, Prepared Self

The most important thing about conducting this interview is that you and the candidate both feel like the virtual element of the conversation did not inhibit the experience. That starts with you being prepared. 

Sketch out how you’d like the interview to unfold and prepare all of the questions you need to ask the interviewee. If you’re not as prepared as you usually are, the candidate might feel like they were cheated out of a true interview because of the virtual element. However, if you’re prepared and are able to control the flow of the interview, the candidate will feel comfortable and answer.

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