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12 virtual interview techniques for recruiters
As we rush headlong into a new era of work, the way we conduct interviews has changed. A full two years after the COVID-19 pandemic first began—when many employers thought remote interviews perhaps were a temporary measure—it’s clear that virtual interviews are here to stay and now a vital component of any modern recruitment strategy.
With today’s candidates preferring—and expecting—virtual interviews, HR professionals and hiring managers must pivot to provide what the market demands. And while it might be tempting to assume you can conduct a virtual interview just like an in-person interview, that’s not really the case.
There are some fundamental differences between virtual interviews and in-person interviews, which means it’s necessary to adjust the interviewing strategies you may have relied on in the past. In this article, we’ll explore the critical differences between virtual interviews and other types of interviews, and share essential virtual interview techniques for recruiters.
How is a virtual interview different from other types of interviews?
Over the past few years, we’ve all gotten used to having virtual meetings over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The virtual interview is a natural extension of this. Rather than expecting candidates to visit your company offices, you can interview them from anywhere they have an internet connection.
And with 70 percent of talent professionals agreeing that virtual interviews will become the new normal—companies must embrace this new approach and learn how to leverage it effectively.
The virtual interview process is a little different from traditional in-person, face-to-face interviews. Rather than being able to read body language, you’ll be more reliant on eye contact and facial expressions. It’s also harder to show your workplace culture because you can’t get up and take a tour around the office.
But—virtual interviews can shorten your time to hire and create a more streamlined candidate experience. They’re also becoming the method of choice for candidates, as there’s no need for them to travel or take significant time off to attend interviews.
Why does interview technique matter during a virtual job interview?
The current job market has led to some pretty big challenges for recruiters. Low unemployment rates mean many companies are all vying to attract the best candidates. If a candidate’s virtual job interview with you is lacking—they most likely have more lined up with your competitors.
Interviews are arguably the most impactful aspect of your hiring process when it comes to the candidate experience and recruitment outcomes. Virtual interviews offer the perfect alternative to face-to-face or phone interviews. But if they leave candidates with a poor impression, your entire recruitment process will feel the negative effects of that. The good news is there are plenty of tips and strategies you can use to ensure your virtual interviews get a five-star rating.
Virtual interview techniques you should use today as a recruiter
Think of these techniques and best practices as a mini-audit of your virtual interview process. Check which ones you’re using, and consider adding the rest to your interview toolbox.
1. Create an interview timeline
Virtual interviews can take time to adjust to—for both candidates and hiring managers. Creating a timeline can help maintain structure and stability. You might decide to create a checklist for interviewers with a breakdown of how long each task will take. For example:
- Review candidate’s resume and other details – 10 mins
- Review questions – 5 mins
- Check technology – 5 mins
- During interview
- Meet, greet, and acclimate – 2 mins
- Outline interview structure – 2 mins
- Hiring team questions – 30 mins
- Candidate questions – 15 mins
- Review scorecard – 10 mins
- Make additional notes – 5 mins
2. Prioritize the candidate experience
In today’s candidate-driven market, your preferred candidate will likely have another opportunity waiting for them just around the corner. That means it’s essential to focus on not just the job description or duties of the open role, but on optimizing the entire candidate journey. Give job seekers the type of candidate experience you’d want if you were in their shoes—swift and clear communication, speedy job offers, and modern recruiting technology. That includes virtual interviewing techniques that allow candidates the flexibility to connect with you without a site visit.
3. Use interview scorecards
Interview scorecards help hiring managers compare candidates using a fair and equitable system. Using this technique to standardize interview questions and the corresponding candidate answers means there’s less chance of a manager’s unconscious bias affecting their hiring decisions. Developing specific scorecards for each role is a good way to ensure the individual categories you need to assess are covered. Scorecards also make it easier and faster for you to reach a hiring decision because you have all the information you need in one place.
4. Formalize interview feedback
Interview feedback shouldn’t be ad-hoc or limited to a quick phone call if someone has time. While 94 percent of candidates want to receive feedback, only 41 percent of companies actually take the time to share this. Your scorecard might include a feedback section to help you remember specific points you’d like to share with each applicant. Candidate feedback is also incredibly valuable for improving your processes. A quick candidate survey sent after the interview can help you identify areas for improvement in the interview process.
5. Be patient and present
We’re all getting used to these new ways of working, so stay patient even when candidates may be dealing with technical issues or disruptions like a small child making an unexpected appearance. Maintaining concentration over multiple virtual interviews can be a challenge. So if you’re struggling to stay present and actively listen to what a candidate has to say—consider reducing the number of interviews scheduled per day.
6. Test your technology
We all know that technology glitches can happen, so make sure any new tools are thoroughly tested before you roll them out for interviews. Consider making time for a technical rehearsal, and record it to see what needs adjusting. Ensure that if you’re working from home rather than the office, you check everything works from there too! Clear communication with candidates about which platform you’ll be using is essential, and it’s always a good idea to make sure they have a phone number to call if something goes wrong.
7. Be aware of unconscious bias
Hiring based on “gut feeling” used to be a pretty popular interviewing technique. But thankfully, times are changing. Unconscious or implicit bias makes it natural for interviewers to gravitate towards job candidates with a similar career timeline, interests, or simply because they feel like they’d gel with a team. But—none of this makes them the right person for the role. Standardizing interviews with the help of an interview intelligence platform that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) can help reduce the impact of unconscious bias during virtual interviews.
8. Highlight your employee value proposition
Creating an employee value proposition (EVP) document is a great way to flesh out exactly what benefits and rewards a new hire will get from you in return for their time, skills, and hard work. This document centers your approach right where it matters—the employee. An EVP is a great way to highlight your company values, culture, and commitment to DEIB. When creating an EVP, make sure you consider it from the applicant’s lens—and clearly show them what they’ll be getting if they decide to join your company.
9. Leverage the right virtual interview tools
Technology can help streamline your recruitment process, but trying to decide which tools to use can quickly become overwhelming. Start by taking stock of the existing technology you already use—and then ensure any additional tools will complement these. For example, if you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams to conduct video interviews, choosing an intelligent interviewing tool that can natively integrate with these video conferencing platforms will make the interview process far more streamlined.
10. Remember interviewing is a two-way street
These days, applicants call the shots. If your virtual interviews are subpar—or they leave candidates feeling like something was missing—don’t be surprised to see a negative review pop up on Indeed or Glassdoor. Potential hires are interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them. Make sure to allocate time for each candidate to ask any questions they may have about your company. Come prepared with obvious information about salary, benefits, corporate culture, and the potential for progression within your company. Some candidates may throw some curveball questions your way—so expect the unexpected!
11. Take time to prepare
With virtual interviews, the whole process can feel a little more informal. But that doesn’t mean remote interviews are any less deserving of preparation time. Not only does a candidate feel their time has been disrespected if an interviewer shows up unprepared, but it also lessens your ability to conduct a quality interview. If the hiring team has many interviews scheduled over one day, set aside time between each one for a quick breather. Use this time to organize (and then set aside) any notes from the previous interview, take a screen break, and familiarize yourselves with the next candidate’s details.
12. Review your interview techniques regularly
During a recruitment cycle, dedicate time to regularly review your virtual interview techniques. Does everything feel like it’s going smoothly? Are you getting good feedback on the interview process—from both new hires and unsuccessful candidates? Check in with other hiring team members and see if they’ve picked up any new techniques you could add.
Successful interview techniques will help your company hire the best candidates
The best way to prepare your organization for the future of work is to optimize your virtual interview techniques. And not only will these virtual interview techniques help you create a better candidate experience—they’ll also benefit your organization and enhance recruiting outcomes.
When hiring team members only have a limited amount of time with each candidate, they need every tool at their disposal to help them quickly and effectively assess each candidate to determine if they’re a good fit. And using the interview techniques we’ve outlined above—along with an AI-powered interview intelligence platform like Clovers—can help. With this approach, organizations can deliver fair, equitable virtual interviews while also making it easier to identify top talent. After all, when every interviewer only has 30 minutes to an hour of screen time to get to know and evaluate any given candidate, you need to ensure every minute counts.
Create the optimal virtual interview
With Clovers’ intelligent interview platform, you can empower your hiring teams to provide the best virtual interview experience—while also finding the right candidate for the role. Schedule a demo or try for free for 30 days to find out how Clovers can help you modernize your virtual interview process.
Doug is constantly working to make the hiring process more objective, insightful, and informed. As a trusted leader in the recruitment industry, Doug is always ready to guide candidates and companies to (and through) a person-first hiring experience.