The Complete Guide to Conducting a Video Interview

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An effective video interviewing process comes with a host of benefits.  These include reducing the time to hire, creating a positive candidate experience, and standardizing the hiring process. To this end, our guide covers everything you need to know about video interview best practices, including short-term and long-term strategies to improve your interviewing process. 

Why A Structured Video Interviewing Process So Important

Conducting video interviews sounds straightforward. The recruiter or hiring manager is on one end of the screen, and the prospective employee is on the other. Both parties go through the motions of a job interview, and the recruiter picks the best candidate. But there is a lot more that goes into conducting a successful interview. Unfortunately, some of these elements of successful video interviews are so subtle that they are easy to miss entirely.

On average, businesses interview 6 to 10 candidates for a job. Considering that face-to-face interviews take between 45 and 90 minutes, the recruiting process can be cumbersome and tiresome. An efficient video interviewing process can help screen more candidates in a shorter time, thus increasing your chances of finding top talent. 

Additionally, a structured virtual interview process can help eliminate scheduling challenges. Video conferencing is a flexible medium, allowing you more control over your schedule. For example, you can choose pre-recorded interviews over live interviews. This way, candidates get additional prep time and take the interview when they are at their best. Conversely, your hiring manager can schedule other important recruiting tasks when it’s most convenient.

Virtual interviews can also help build efficiency in your recruiting process. This is especially true with in-demand candidates. A short hiring timeline, candidates with limited availability, and inflexible interviewing teams can frustrate the interview process. But, a structured virtual interviewing process can eliminate these hurdles, ensuring that ideal candidates don’t fall through the cracks for technical reasons.

Finally, a well-structured video interview process can help to create a positive candidate experience. Prospective candidates don’t have to worry about traffic, parking, or if they will be able to find the office. The candidates are also free to take the interview where they are most comfortable. Although subtle, a positive candidate experience can make the difference between top-talent accepting or rejecting your job offer.

Video Interviews at Microsoft

It comes as no surprise that tech giant Microsoft utilizes virtual interviews in its hiring process. This practice is even more pronounced given the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, Microsoft moved all its in-person interviews globally to virtual interviews “until further notice.” This shift is an effort to promote candidate and employee safety.

The pandemic aside, Microsoft has been conducting virtual interviews for several years. The company offers an excellent example of what a structured and streamlined virtual interview process should look like.

Naturally, the company uses its software, Microsoft Teams, to conduct virtual interviews. Microsoft has a dedicated virtual interview landing page. This page contains a detailed guide outlining the video technology best practices. Here, candidates can find everything they need for the interview beforehand, including detailed instructions for using the software, complete with troubleshooting tips.

Additionally, Microsoft offers an accessibility request form. Here, candidates can request specific video-interview-related accommodations. 

You don’t need to develop your own virtual interview technology. But, you can use reliable technology that is easy for your candidates and recruiters. Another lesson from Microsoft is to offer preliminary information about the interviewing process. Candidates are likely to perform their best when they know exactly what to expect from the interview process.

Finally, be sure to accommodate special accessibility requests where possible. This flexibility ensures that you live up to your values as an equal opportunity employer.

Quick Tips to Improve Your Video Interview Process Today

The quickest route to immediately improving your virtual interviewing process is to sign up for recruiting software supporting video interviews. For this, I recommend Freshteam, which comes with Zoom and Google Meet native integration. Additionally, the software offers an open API if you’d like to use a different video conferencing tool.

The best thing about Freshteam is its robust features. The software lets you handle everything leading up to the video interview. For example, with Freshteam, you can easily:

  • Create job descriptions
  • List open positions
  • Set up a hiring team
  • Create a custom hiring process
  • Track email applicants
  • Recruit on social channels
  • Embed job listings on your website

Freshteam also has a full suite of onboarding features once you find the right candidate. For example, you’ll be able to assign checklists to new hires, share documents before the first day, and sign documents virtually.

Freshteam prices start with a  $71 per month platform fee and an extra $1.20 per employee. The software also has a free plan with basic HR features like employee directory and applicant tracking with Kanban Boards.

Feel free to check out our post on The Best Recruiting Software, where we ranked Freshteam as the best software for most. We also highlighted Zoho Recruit, which may be a better choice if you’re a recruiter. This post will shed more light on the best software for your specific recruiting needs.

Aside from using recruiting software to streamline your hiring process, there are a few more tips you can implement to transform your video interviews instantly.

Create Interview Intros and Outros

A compelling intro and outro help to personalize the interview process. More than that, these elements help to create clarity about the interviewing process. For example, candidates may not know what to expect during the interview. Also, it may be unclear what happens after the interview is over. Clarity about your process helps to create a better employee experience. You will also come off as prepared and professional.

For the intro, provide a detailed guide of the interview process. The details may include where to record the interview video, the dress code, technology, and other information about the interview process.

Finally, the outro should include an overview of the next steps. For example, you can thank the candidates for their time and offer a timeframe for when they can expect to hear back from you. Any little thing you can do to make the virtual interview easier will help you land the best candidates. 

Consider One-Way vs. Live Video Interviews

In the interest of structuring your interview process, you’ll need to decide between one-way and live interviews. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks, but the one you choose is entirely up to you. Just be sure to use the same method for all interviews.

One-way video interviews, also called asynchronous video interviews, are where candidates are given a short time to answer pre-recorded interview questions.

Live video interviews allow recruiters to conduct real-time interviews.

One-way interviews are quick and efficient. Recorded interviews also offer an opportunity for hiring managers to review candidate’s submissions if necessary. But, this interview format can be impersonal. A great way to make the process more personal is to have the recruiter or interviewer record the interview questions. Additionally, consider allowing candidates to re-record their answers in case something goes wrong.

However, many candidates prefer live interviews. This format allows them to clarify questions. Interviewers can also elaborate on the questions. Furthermore, live interviews are more personal and can foster a better candidate experience. The candidate can get a feel of who they’ll be working with or the company culture from a live interview. Therefore, it may be worth choosing two-way interviews as your preferred video interview format.

Accommodate Candidates’ Special Requirements

Creating a fair hiring process goes further than paying lip service to equal opportunity employment. You can live out your company principles and values by accommodating special requests from candidates. For example, not all candidates may have a webcam. Consider offering alternatives, such as a phone interview.

Similarly, not everyone has access to a dedicated workspace. You could offer standard backgrounds for all your interviews. This way, candidates who don’t have attractive or professional backgrounds don’t feel self-conscious. This is also a great way to minimize the chances of unconscious bias during the interview process.

Lastly, reach out to candidates well ahead of the interview date. Be sure to include details about the technology they’ll need for the interview. Offer the option to reschedule the interview where possible, just in case the candidate may be expecting issues with their technology.

Maintain Professionalism During Video Interviews

A video interview is just as serious as an in-person interview. But, this fact may be lost to candidates if you aren’t careful. Common mistakes like leaving your email notifications or ringer volume on can take away from the seriousness of the interview. Ensure that the interview environment is free from distraction, particularly where technology is concerned.

You should also maintain the same body language as an in-person interview. Cues like nodding your head, maintaining eye contact, and smiling help to connect with interviewees. Additionally, these cues make the interview process more personal and natural.

Finally, remember to dress professionally and prepare for the interview beforehand. You may also expect some interruptions, especially if the candidate is interviewing from home. Issues like dogs barking or children noises may be inevitable in some situations. So, be forgiving of these interruptions as long as the candidate has taken reasonable measures to conduct a professional interview.

Consider When To Schedule the Interview

There is such a thing as the ideal time to schedule interviews. For one, most employees are not fond of early morning interviews. Therefore, most experts recommend planning the meeting between 10 am and 11 am. If afternoons work better for your interviewers, between 2 pm and 3 pm can work just as well. 

Similarly, the middle of the week seems like the optimal time to schedule interviews. Most people aren’t their best on Mondays, and Friday isn’t an optimal day since most people are looking forward to the weekend. So you could be giving yourself and your prospective employee a break by scheduling the interview between Tuesday and Thursday.

Long-Term Strategies for Conducting Video Interviews

Some strategies for successful video interviews take a longer time to implement. In addition, some of these strategies may require significant time and money investment. But, the investment will be worth it.

Invest in a Good Video Interviewing Setup

Ensure you have the capacity to conduct live interviews, especially if you are just switching from in-person screening. This advice particularly applies to hiring managers or recruiters working from home.

The standard home internet connection may not be sufficient to handle live interviews. In this case, look into the best broadband to manage your recruitment process. Equally, it is worth investing in great video conferencing software for your interviews.

Furthermore, be sure to test your equipment before the interview. You can lose valuable time trying to figure out how the equipment works. These glitches can also be annoying for your candidates and make you look unprofessional and unprepared. It may be worth having support on hand. Just in case there are technical issues that you can’t solve on the fly.

Lastly, choose a quiet space to conduct the interviews. Go for a natural background that isn’t distracting. You’ll also need to ensure that the environment is free from visual and auditory distractions.

Standardize Your Interviewing Process

Many organizations have a standardized on-site interview process, and for a good reason. A standardized process helps to conduct fair and effective interviews. So, don’t forget to standardize your virtual interviewing process. Asking all candidates the same set of standard questions ensures that you are comparing apples to apples.

Additionally, create interview questions that focus on candidates’ strengths and capabilities directly relating to the role. Also, consider recording the interviews with the candidate’s approval. You can share these recordings with the hiring team to get their feedback.

Lastly, create a standardized scorecard to help objectively rate candidates. Again, get your team’s input when developing the scorecard. A simple 1-to-5 rating scorecard for each candidate can help you avoid unconscious bias and other pitfalls when comparing the candidate’s responses.

Freshteam software comes with an Interview Scorecard feature. You can edit or customize the scorecard at any time, including adding section descriptions, the competencies you’ll be rating, and who can see the completed scorecard.

Document the Video Interview Process

Like on-site interviews, it helps if your candidates know exactly what to expect from the interview process. The intro and outro we highlighted in the previous section may not be enough. Consider creating a detailed guide that candidates can refer to. You can send candidates a link to the landing page or document before the interview.

Some of the procedures to address in this document include:

  • When the video interview starts and ends.
  • Details about the interviewer, including their name and title.
  • The interviewer’s expectations. If you’ll be asking candidates to solve a problem on the spot, perform a simulation, or provide a work sample, be sure to include the details in your guide.
  • Information on how to access your preferred videoconferencing technology, including details for downloading any software.
  • Video Conferencing troubleshooting tips.

The more detailed the documentation, the better. Similarly, consider creating another version for the recruiting team. Then, team members can refer to the guide when conducting interviews to standardize the process.

Create a Virtual Office Tour

One of the biggest challenges of video interviews is communicating your company culture. After all, candidates get a sense of your company culture by physically touring the office. So, it is worth investing in a high-quality video tour of your office or campus. You can outsource this service for the best quality results.

Be sure to capture the essential elements of the workplace. Some places to highlight may include co-working areas, private offices, kitchens, and breakout spaces. You may also have brief introductions of the key people in the office. This tip will help make the video even more engaging.

Next Steps

The next step is to collaborate with other team members during the hiring process. Having a team of hiring managers, recruiters, and executives can help to speed up the hiring process. The team’s input also increases the chances of finding the right candidate for the job.

Recruiting software like Freshteam comes with useful collaborative features. For example, Freshteam lets you create a hiring team, complete with assigning a manager. This collaboration ensures that everyone is in the loop throughout the hiring and onboarding process.

I’ll finish off with a few more resources to complement this guide to conducting video interviews. Check out these insightful Crazy Egg posts for more information on conducting successful virtual interviews:

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