Getting the best out of video interviews with candidates

[email protected] have been using video to interview candidates for over 6 years and have built up a lot of experience in ensuring this medium works effectively.  With more people working from home, interview done using video is now the new norm.  We have pooled together all the experience of our recruiters to come up with some great advice to help interviewers make the most from video interviews.


Besides having the proper equipment (camera, mic, software, etc.), interviewers need to ensure that video calls go as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips to prepare yourself before a video interview with candidates:

  • Before each meeting, test your camera, microphone, and speakers. Even if you’ve used them before, unexpected issues can arise at any moment. Have the candidate’s contact details handy in case you need to inform them about a delay.
  • Make sure the room is free of distractions. Good lighting, privacy and a de-cluttered, professional background are essential. One tip is to go behind your camera to see the view the candidate would see when they are looking behind you through the computer.
  • Make sure to mute any notifications you have on your computer (e.g. email, Slack) and close down any unused tabs.
  • If you are screen sharing it is a good idea to place all documents you will need in a temporary folder on your desk top so you can quickly have everything to hand.
  • Keep in mind that video interviews can be stressful for candidates. Help them feel more comfortable by maintaining eye contact and showing that they have your full attention.
  • Whether you use Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or any other video conferencing platform keep in mind that the candidate may not be familiar with the platform you use. Do they need to download any software? Create a username and password? Provide step-by-step instructions for accessing the platform well in advance, so they can seamlessly connect to the interview.
  • Consider scheduling more time to interview than you typically would for a face to face interview. Between technical difficulties that may arise and candidates who provide lengthier than expected answers to your questions, the video interview can go longer than anticipated.
  • If conducting back-to-back interviews, set up separate meeting rooms with different log ins for each candidate. If you use the same meeting room and access code for multiple job seekers there is the potentially awkward situation of one job seeker logging in early while you’re still interviewing another candidate. Some video providers have a “waiting room” facility to allow people to log on till you activate their connection, worth finding out and enabling this function.
  • Most people don’t have professional lighting in their house, generally if you are facing an outside window, you will cast enough light that you can be seen clearly, but do not have your back to a window as you will not show up clearly.
  • As with any interview, don’t wing it. It’s important to have your interview questions planned ahead of time. Have those questions in front of you to help keep the interview on track.
  • Introduce yourself and any others on the call to the candidate by name and role and what part they may play in the process eg one person may be a note taker only.
  • It is also worth having your intro prepared in advance to help you start the interview off on the right note. Write down a few lines so that you can speak almost verbatim when the interview starts.
  • During the interview, consider starting with some icebreaker questions to help put the candidate at ease. Keep in mind that video interviews can be just as unusual for the job seeker as they are for you.
  • From there, you can move on to asking more in-depth interview questions. For example, you might ask some general questions about the candidate’s skills and prior work history, as well as a few behavioural-based interview questions that delve deeper into the way the job seeker has used critical skills in past positions.
  • From what you wear to what you say to how you act, there shouldn’t be much difference in how you would conduct a video interview versus one that’s face-to-face. Even if it’s just your top half, dress appropriately like you would if you were meeting the candidate in person. When listening, smile, nod, and sit up straight to show the candidate that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Its fine to enjoy a cup of tea or water during the interview, but no eating!!
  • Eye contact is key here, too. When making eye contact during a video interview, you should look directly into the webcam, not at the candidate on your screen.
  • Using pauses to ensure the candidate has finished their response before moving on to the next question is also crucial when remote since the same cues that a candidate uses to show he or she has answered a question aren’t often available during a video interview.
  • It’s important to realise you won’t be communicating as freely via video as you would in person. There are subtle gestures we do in person that don’t come across on camera, as a result “tone” can be lost or misinterpreted. Choose your words carefully, and keep jokes to a minimum. The last thing you want is for a prospective hire to interpret you in a way you didn’t intend.
  • Whether your interview is in person or over video, it’s best practice to follow up with candidates afterward. Especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, job seekers are more stressed than ever before, and not hearing back from an interview can amplify that stress.
  • Even if you don’t have a decision yet, an email letting people know where you are in the process can alleviate anxiety. Even if you are emailing that they aren’t being hired, at least they know. You don’t want to brand yourself or the company as someone who ghosts candidates.

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