Interviewing potential candidates is about more than just the questions you ask. Other elements should be taken into consideration: presentation, mood, flow of conversation, and the comfort levels of the participants, to name a few. These demands have always been awkward and challenging to meet, and now the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the ideal classic interview out the window. Most businesses are now hiring, onboarding, and training candidates virtually. It’s another challenge altogether to assess a candidate’s skills and personality through a phone or video call and simultaneously maintain an engaging conversation. However, there are several steps you can take to make the process as simple and engaging as virtual communication will allow.

Flexibility

Because so many elements can go wrong during virtual conversations (technology flukes, poor internet connection, etc.), a flexible mindset is important when interviewing candidates. You may have to let go of certain standards, such as immaculately clear video and sound or a perfectly decorated office space behind your interviewee . Don’t dismiss the idea of a phone call or simply rescheduling the video interview if the interviewee’s technology or internet refuses to work. Be forgiving. Everyone’s internet connection works differently depending on location. It would be a shame to lose out on a great candidate simply because their video or sound didn’t work properly on the day of their interview.

Engagement

One of the most difficult elements of virtual interviewing is engagement. This can be challenging even during an in-person interview, so what can you do to make your candidate (and yourself) as comfortable as possible? Although interviews are professional in nature, consider introducing a few fun and personable questions in the beginning of your conversation. Asking your candidate about their favorite hobbies or TV shows might prompt a topic both of you enjoy. Light conversation in the beginning, especially if it prompts laughter, will help dispel nerves and create energy for the more serious portions of the interview.

Technology

There are several programs and ways to conduct virtual interviews, but no matter which product or process you use, it’s critical that you test your technology several times before your first virtual interview. Even if you allow for flexibility with internet and technology issues on behalf of your candidate, you risk presenting your business as unprofessional if it becomes clear you don’t have a grasp on your own chosen video conference service. It would also be helpful to write down troubleshooting steps as you experience issues. This will allow you to give easy directions to your candidate if they experience any difficulties.

Although it’s unlikely that anyone will ever stage the perfect video call, these steps can help you make your virtual interview process smoother and more engaging. And despite the difficulties that come with it, keep in mind that virtual interviewing also comes with many advantages over in-person interviews. Location flexibility, convenience, and efficiency are all aspects of virtual interviewing that might not only make hiring easier, but also improve your business’s hiring strategy for the future.

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