It feels pretty futuristic when you think about it: you can chat, real time, with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away, while looking into their face and making a real human connection. It’s something that science fiction stories have suggested for decades, and we’re lucky enough to live in a time where it’s possible!
Video Interviewing Tips
Video chatting is far from perfect, however. With glitches, video and audio cut-outs, and lag, you might feel discouraged. But don’t throw out a good thing quite yet. Follow these easy tips to create the best experience possible for your applicant and yourself!
Test your tech, then show up early
Online video chat makes us able to live the Star Wars call-in dream, but it’s also fraught with problems and difficulties. Poor connection, lag, bad image and audio quality, reverb, and mysteriously muted lines are all familiar struggles to anyone who’s ever attempted a video call.
The best way to combat these struggles is to test all of your tech way before the interview ever begins. A day or two before the scheduled interview time, set up everything you might need for the interview. Be in the room you’ll use at the same time of day, if you can, because this will mimic the connection strength most closely.
Look for an audio, video, and a microphone test function. Nearly every video interviewing software, free or purchased, will offer some version of these tests. Never assume that your technology will work if you haven’t tested it first.
Even if you’ve done all the tests and have been using the same software for months of interviews already, you should still log in early and double-check that everything works before your scheduled interview time. I like to give it a minimum of ten minutes. Not only is this plenty of time to set up the connection and ensure that it’s running smoothly, it’s also enough time to fix any newfound problems before the candidate arrives.
Best-case scenario, everything works great and you have extra time to look over your interview questions and the candidate’s resume. Don’t underestimate the value of showing up early!
Start with a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone. The audio quality will be higher and more refined. The attached microphone will be closer to your mouth and of a better quality than the one in your computer, allowing your voice to come through clear, crisp, and at enough of a volume that your applicant will actually be able to tell what they heck you’re saying.
Headphones aren’t your only external hardware options. If you’re worried about grainy, laggy, out-of-focus images, an external camera is the friend you need. Cameras exist for Macs as well as PCs, and are optimized for one or the other at times, so keep an eye on those specs.
As with headphones, Amazon has you covered in terms of external camera choices.
Record your interview
Video interviewing has several huge advantages over traditional, in-person interviewing, and one of the biggest is how easy it is to record the interview. And a quick Google search will lead you to dozens of free screen recorders online.
Recording has a slew of helpful uses, including referencing specific interviews later, showing interviews to other people in the hiring chain (such as your hiring manager or the head of the open department), and comparing candidates answers side by side.
Make sure to start your recording before you ask any of your interview questions. You don’t want to be frustrated by fully meaning to have a recording, and then forgetting to turn it on until halfway through the interview.
If you choose to record, give your candidate a heads up and get their permission first. Not only is it plain good manners, it may be illegal to film people without their consent in your area. Asking first shows that you respect them and will lead to a better candidate experience.
Consider the space
When video interviewing, you should have your camera on if you expect your candidate to have theirs on. (And, yes, you do want them to turn it on, or you could just call them on the phone.)
With that in mind, you should take a moment and think about how you’ll appear on the camera. You’re a representative for your company, and switching from in person to a camera doesn’t change that, so how you look and how the space around you looks is important.
You don’t have to dress up if that isn’t representative of your company culture, but don’t wear your worst hoodie and rely on the camera static to hide the sriracha stain down the front. Especially once you switch to higher-quality equipment, you’ll find that the camera is much less forgiving than you might want it to be.
The space behind you should be a neutral as possible. Find a solid wall in your office with no movement or distractions to back you. Try to be lit from a light source that is either above you or behind the computer. Don’t sit in front of a window unless you’d like to come off like a 60 Minutes interview with members of Anonymous.
Body language is everything—yours and theirs
The edge that video interviewing has over phone interviewing is the window you get into your applicant’s behaviour and body language. You can see which questions make them laugh, which questions make them freeze up, and which questions make them pull a face. You can see how engaged and attentive your applicant is, which may aid you in determining if they’d be a good fit for your company’s culture.
Keep an eye out for tell-tale signals of how your applicant is feeling about the interview. It’s amazing how much you can tell from that little video screen, in part because people feel more at ease in their own spaces and are less likely to be super-stiff the way they might be in a traditional interview.
On your end, just make sure that you don’t look too lazy. Sit up straight and look engaged. Make eye contact by looking at the camera, and don’t fiddle with your phone or switch around between web pages. Don’t spend the whole time looking at the tiny picture of yourself. Remember to smile every so often. It’s not complicated, I promise.
Invest in good soft equipment
I already spoke to headsets and external cameras—both are always good choices—but that’s not the only equipment you’re likely to need. You need some for of software to host the call itself.
You can always go with Google Hangouts or Skype, and there’s nothing wrong with either of those options. However, if you’re worried about the quality of calls on those services, or if you find yourself going through high volumes of video interviews at once, or video interviewing very often, it might be worth it to look into getting a dedicated software.
There are dozens of great video interview software and digital video calling software choices. Some applicant tracking systems may even offer a built-in video interviewing platform, so if you use an ATS or are in the market for one, it might be a feature to look for.
Having all of your video interviews conducted through the same program gives you some consistency in quality, and ensures reliability, plus a help desk to call when you do encounter problems.
End on next steps
Surely you remember what interviewing was like? No matter how long you’ve been in your current position, you were a job-seeker once. It’s frustrating and more than a little scary to be left hanging at the end of an interview, suspecting but not entirely sure how you performed.
When you’ve asked all your questions, when you’ve wrapped up any side discussions with your candidate, and when you’ve turned off your recording program and you’re just about ready to end the interview, pause for a moment and go over what comes next.
If your applicant did well, they’ll appreciate knowing when comes next in the often multi-step application process. If they didn’t do so well, they’ll be glad you at least had the decency to explain that you’d be emailing them within a given time frame.
Either way, never just drop your applicant and logout. You’d make sure an in-person candidate got out of the building ok, right? Same concept. It helps your interview end on a positive note for everyone.
What are your video interviewing tips?
Have you conducted a video interview? Maybe been on the other side of one? What tricks did you use to make your interview go off without a hitch? Tell me about it in the comments, and subscribe to my email list for more talent tech tips like these.