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  • Kristy (Hall) Murcia

A Comprehensive Guide to Conducting Video Interviews


As companies around the globe make adjustments to prioritize the health and safety of their employees and communities amid coronavirus, many hiring teams are reassessing how they conduct candidate interviews. In many cases, this means transitioning from in-person interviews to virtual ones.

For some recruiters, video interviews are familiar and their companies have established video conferencing capabilities. For others, conducting this type of interview is new and their companies are quickly adapting to new technologies and adjusting traditional ways of doing work.

In this guide, we will provide tips to serve you whether you’re a video-interviewing veteran or a virtual novice. The good news is that many of the same approaches that you bring to in-person candidate interviews will serve you well while conducting video interviews.

Outline Your Process

First and foremost, put a formal plan together with your entire hiring team. How will the interview process change now that it’s being conducted remotely? Will you need to prepare a slide presentation to share on-screen? Are there any steps candidates need to complete ahead of time to prepare, such as submitting additional work samples or completing a pre-employment test? What is your backup plan if the internet connection, yours or the candidates, becomes an issue?

In times like these, aim to over-communicate. When the majority of your team is remote, you don’t have the luxury of popping over to their desk to ask for clarification. Include obvious information and details in your procedural outline to minimize miscommunication.

Test Your Tech Regardless of which interview software you select, it’s important to understand and have experience with the quirks and features of your equipment before conducting an interview. Do some research beforehand to find out if the candidate needs to have certain log-in credentials, a particular email address or download a platform in order to join the conversation. Make sure to provide all of this information to candidates long before the interview so they can test out the software on their end.

Additionally, hold a few test interviews with your team members to ensure everyone understands how to set up video and audio functions, mute themselves, share their screen and chat during the interview. Go the extra mile and research pain points other software users have identified to practice solutions for common mishaps.

Avoid Distractions

During an interview, make sure you have all of the materials you will need in an easy to access location. Clicking around and searching for documentation, slides or any other materials can make it seem like you are not engaged with the interviewee. Be sure to give candidates your full attention and turn off the rest of the world when conducting video interviews. Your device’s built-in speakers can pick up and magnify notification noises, which makes for a very unpleasant interruption. On top of that, it’s rude and disrespectful of your interviewee’s time. Remember, this is a time to both assess a candidate’s fit for the role and sell your company as a potential employer, so treat them with the same respect you expect from them.

Log On Early

Don’t let your candidate wait around wondering if they’ve got the right time or joined the right meeting. Show up to the video interview five minutes early and switch off your video functionality while you wait. This will ensure you’re on time to the meeting, but you can continue to work or organize your space in the meantime. Your candidates will appreciate your punctuality and preparedness.

Have A Backup Plan

No matter how many times you test your video interview software, problems can still occur. In the event that video or audio functions aren’t working, internet access becomes unstable or surroundings are no longer conducive to an interview, have a failsafe in place. Whether you default to a phone call or switch to FaceTime, ensure you have an alternative method for conducting the interview.

Talk with the candidate about what is most convenient for them. If internet access is the issue, they may need to switch to a phone call. Additionally, if background noises become too much of an interruption, you may have to reschedule the interview altogether or switch to a pre-recorded interview. Again, remote work poses unique challenges for everyone. Being flexible and accommodating will make candidates feel more at ease and improve your employer brand.

Be Considerate

Give your candidate the respect they deserve by minimizing background noises and distractions. But, life happens, especially when working at home and there may be interruptions. Before diving in, take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the candidate’s flexibility in participating in a video interview and ask them for their patience if things pop up. Additionally, don’t fault candidates if the same happens from their end.

Review Past Interviews And Take Notes

Ahead of a video interview, review your notes from previous conversations with the candidate so the next one is as productive as possible. Take notes on what the candidate says, how engaged they seem and their general demeanor during every interview. Note that it’s important to inform the interviewee that you’re taking notes to reference later and that you’re still paying full attention to the conversation. They can’t tell what you’re writing, and to them, it may seem like you’re not paying attention.

Most platforms generate transcripts of meetings, which makes it easier to capture the entire conversation and share it with other stakeholders. Still, jot down notes on things that stand out to you during the interview.

Dress Appropriately

Even if you're no longer in the office, dress professionally. Showing up to the conversation in sweats and a t-shirt, unless it is typical office attire for your organization, will signal to the candidate that the conversation isn’t really important. If a shirt and tie combo is most appropriate, be sure to wear it.

Dressing as you would in the office gives the candidate a sense of your culture and makes a video interview feel more in line with an onsite interview. Of course, your attire is usually only visible from the waist up, so a blouse, collared shirt or nice sweater is perfectly acceptable.

At the end of the day, approach a video interview as you would an in-person interview. Doing so will ensure candidates take the conversation seriously and are evaluated effectively. Additionally, make sure the proper systems and backups are in place ahead of time so you can maintain a consistent and effective virtual recruitment process.

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