The worst parts of any job interview are exacerbated by conducting it remotely. Besides the obvious tech glitches, simply sitting in different spaces creates a completely different experience on both ends. Conferring a sense of your company’s and your own identity becomes a struggle when you’ve never seen or met the candidate face-to-face.
Why do video interviews in the first place?
Job interviews over Skype are more complicated than a video team meeting, since you don’t know the person on the other end very well, and are probably digging around for conversation topics with which to engage them. The logistics of a video conference and bandwidth issues can make them even more off-putting than your typical client conference call.
Still, job interviews conducted over video give you a very important advantage over the phone: body language. Among other things, you can literally see
- how the other person says what they think is important;
- how they engage the listener; and
- how professionally they present themselves.
Tips for helping the conversation flow
So if you have play interviewer via Skype, here are a few things you can do to make the discussion easier for all parties involved.
1. Get your calendar invitation right. Make sure to include your Skype username and contact information, as well as specifics on who is calling who in the calendar invite itself. Being clear on these instructions will help avoid a lot of the upfront confusion and awkwardness that goes into a video interview.
2. Set expectations upfront. Take the time to set out the structure of the call as soon as you get on the line. Handing the interview an agenda is the first part of most effective interviews, but even more important in a video interview because of the potential for dropped connections.
3. Give yourself something to talk about. Supplementing your video conversation with a test or exercise of some sort will give you a sense of the candidate’s skills and something in common. Consider assigning the exercise in advance of the interview, so that the interviewee can follow up with questions about it during the interview.
4. Stop yourself. Consciously resolve not to the cut the other person off. At the same time, regularly interrupt the conversation to ask if the other person has any questions. This is more important on a video call with delays and crossed wires than during in-person interviews.
5. Show off. When possible, it’s helpful to turn the camera around and show the interviewee your office. It’ll give them a sense of where/how the team works, and can cut through the formality a bit.
6. Chat. Make wide use of the chat panel to send links or files that you might want to discuss with the interviewee in real time. It will allow you to share relevant examples of the work and make the conversation a bit more seamless.
7. Better yet, Share. Use screen-sharing apps like Join.me or Skype’s inbuilt functionality to show the other person what you’re seeing during the interview. This is also a great way to test their collaboration skills.
8. Help with Prep. Walking into an interview with minimal information about what the company does or how they want you to help do it generally renders it pretty ineffective. Consider sending the interviewee an “interview guide” beforehand so that you have something to talk about. It can include case studies about your clients, videos by your employees about their work or even just a few recruiting pamphlets.
9. Take a Different Approach. Fill the latency gaps in the phone line with “let me dial you back” instead of “can you hear me.” If all else fails, move your conversation over to the phone line, but leave the video screen on (and muted) so that you can still see each other.
10. Direct the Questions. At the end of the interview, instead of asking if they have any questions, ask something more pointed that might solicit questions. For example, ask what their top 3 questions for the outgoing person in the position would be. This could help in any interview, regardless of where it’s conducted. But it’s especially well-suited to remote interviews because it makes up for the lack of chit-chat that usually occurs while bidding farewell to someone in your office.