Virtual Interviewing Tips for Hiring Managers

September 2020
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Looking back, very few of my colleagues ever really enjoyed virtual interviewing, opting instead for a traditional sit-down interview experience in one of our beautiful conference rooms overlooking the city.

Truth be told, I can’t blame them. There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation to give you a genuine feel for a person, their experiences and how they might work with you, your teams, clients and stakeholders.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the need to establish more efficient remote hiring practices does, too. Everyone is swiftly becoming more comfortable with video interviews. It’s imperative to keep some best practices in mind to maximize your time with candidates and in the interview process overall.

Before

It is more vital than ever to prepare for an interview in this primarily remote world. Make sure you’re using a reliable platform for your virtual meeting (Zoom, Skype for Business, Google Meetings), and give all parties the necessary login information.

Make sure your webcam and microphone are working before the start of the call, and also test your Wi-Fi connection. Have a backup plan, and be ready to email a candidate or call them on the phone if video isn’t working for whatever reason.

Try to conduct the interview in a location free of distractions and noise, set up your space and background in a matter that is comfortable for you, and ask your housemates not to disturb you. Dress professionally, too. Review the candidate’s résumé and any notes shared by others who have participated in the process before you. Have your questions prepared, and lastly, have a notebook available to jot down your impressions during the conversation.

During

Be engaged during the conversation, ask your questions and listen to the candidate. Speak clearly and enjoy the discussion. Don’t be afraid to smile and engage with the other person as you would in an in-person interview — after all, you are still representing your organization.

Common advice is to look into the camera, and not at the image of the person on your screen, but that actually doesn’t work for me in terms of feeling like I am having an authentic conversation with another human being. I opt to look at the other person’s image on my screen. As I said before, you have to do what makes you most comfortable, and the interview will flow more naturally.

Finally, if you’re hiring for an on-site role, be sure that you can detail what safety precautions your firm and the building where your office is located might be taking at this time. If the position is going to be remote, then you may want to discuss what onboarding will look like for the person you hire, and how your teams are navigating this virtual work environment.

Remember that a remote employee needs to be able to work autonomously and have excellent collaboration and communication skills, so try to dig into those things, as well as their potential for proactive productivity, during your discussion.

After

Be as transparent as possible with the candidate about your interview and hiring process, and let them know what to expect afterward. Many companies in the PR space are not hiring as actively right now, so this won’t come as a surprise to most interviewees.

If the conversation is informational and for pipeline purposes, then let them know. Be open to follow-up and check-ins from candidates and, if anything, direct the candidate to the recruiter or talent acquisition person managing the search.

This is a great time to be networking with potential talent, so whether your company is hiring or not, I’d recommend saying yes to some of those requests for a virtual coffee meeting — they benefit everyone in the long run!

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