Interviewing During a Lockdown – Your Guide to Video Interviewing

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, recruiters have seen a 67% spike in video interviews. It makes sense; video interviews reduce the time to commute and limit exposure to the public which is crucial during a pandemic. Now we’re facing a lockdown many of us have no choice but to communicate via video for office communications as we’re working remotely. Switching to a video interview can ensure that both the candidate and interviewer are safe as well as saving time, resource and money.

While phone interviewing is a great way to screen candidates, video interviews create a valuable replacement for a face-to-face interview. You wouldn’t hire someone without meeting them first, and while we’re in a lockdown which means only leaving our homes when essential, a video interview is a simple and sensible solution.

There are countless reasons why video interviews are a useful addition to your recruitment process; they reduce the impact if a candidate doesn’t show up, it’s much easier to schedule interviews, there are no geographic restrictions if you’re looking to hire globally and it helps to remove elements of bias! Using video on a temporary basis may mean that you incorporate it into your recruitment strategy as a permanent feature if it works well for your business.

However, it’s understandable that relying on technology to form such a crucial part of your recruitment strategy may raise questions. We’ve tried to answer some of them to make the whole process a lot simpler for everyone involved.

How will you interview?

There are two types of video interview that remain popular amongst employers. The first is a live video interview (essentially a video call) which works in the same way as a face-to-face interview just via a screen. It has all the benefits of meeting someone in person as you can evaluate their expressions, body language (to an extent) and sincerity around what they’re saying which can’t always be done over the phone.

Next is a pre-recorded or one-way video interview. Candidates will record answers to predetermined questions and send them back to an employer to review. This can be done via specific apps like Montage or InterviewStream, or you can simply ask candidates to send recordings over. With this method, the employer has a lot more control over the interview process. Do you give candidates the questions in advance and allow them to prepare? Do you set a time limit to the videos? Do you send a video so they can ‘meet’ you as well? Are all things to consider.

Whichever way you choose to conduct a video interview ensure that instructions are clear to candidates from the moment you invite them to interview. To create a better candidate experience there should be no room for surprise. Explain what is expected, what technology you will be using and how to contact you in the event of technical issues.

How will you avoid technical issues?

As with any technology, you can’t always guarantee that there will be no errors. For example, video interviews rely on strong internet connections for both parties which cannot be promised, the audio may drop out on you or the screen could become pixelated if the internet speed is slow, so patience is key.

While you can’t change things beyond your control one thing you can do is test a video interview before the candidate gets involved. Whichever platform you choose to use to conduct your video interviews, make sure you test it before you use it. This means you’ll be comfortable with its features and will avoid any embarrassing slip-ups mid-interview; like accidentally hanging up on your candidate! If things don’t run smoothly it may create a bad candidate experience and reflect poorly on your employer brand.

However, if all else fails, it’s a good idea to keep the candidates’ phone numbers on hand. If you run into unavoidable technical issues you need to make sure you can still get in touch with them to explain or even conduct a good old-fashioned phone interview. It never hurts to have a backup plan.

Where will you interview?

If you’re conducting a video interview, you’d expect the candidate to be in a quiet place with a good internet connection so you can see and hear them clearly, that’s not too much to ask. However, as an interviewee, the same rules apply.

Whether you’re working from home or you’re in the office, find a quiet spot that is distraction-free. While we always promote giving a candidate a feel for the business, that doesn’t mean they want to hear all the office goings-on behind you; an interview is not the time to learn what the team are having for lunch! Candidates probably don’t want to hear your dog barking either. Make sure you’re situated in a place where the candidate can have your undivided attention and you can have theirs’.

What questions will you ask?

Treat the video interview like any other interview, the only difference is the candidate isn’t physically in front of you. Ask the same questions you’d normally ask and monitor the quality of response in the same way. Like in a face-to-face interview, live chats can sometimes lead to more questions and going off-topic – that’s how conversation works! But as a rule, try to ask all candidates the same questions to even the playing field. If you’re opting for a pre-recorded, one-way video interview ensure that all candidates receive the same questions to make the process fair.

How should I prepare the candidate?

It’s vital to realise that while you may have become familiar with your chosen platform for conducting a video interview; the candidate may not be. Interviews are nerve-wracking things anyway without trying to get your head around a new platform. Let them know in advance how the interview will be conducted so they also have a chance to prepare, download any apps or create any logins.

Make sure the process of the interview is clear to create the best candidate experience. Explain the type of questions you will ask and give them an idea of timescale, so they have a better idea of what to expect. This should all be standard practice for face-to-face interviews but it’s even more important when you won’t be physically meeting the individuals you interview.

Some HR managers also like to send a video of themselves if you’re asking for pre-recorded video interviews. This breaks down the barriers and adds the personal touch, otherwise the candidate doesn’t feel the human elements; and no one wants to feel like they’re talking to a machine!

Keep these things in mind and you should be prepared to shift to a video interview strategy. The recruitment process doesn’t have to stop during a lockdown. By making the most of the technology available to us, we can make the best of a scary situation and keep hiring the best talent to drive our business forward from the comfort of our own homes. Who knows, this may become a permanent feature in your recruitment process which saves you both time and money!