Dear Artemis: How do I mimic in-office, full day, executive interviews in a virtual setting?
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Welcome back to Dear Artemis: Where you ask us tough questions and we use our collective 45+ years knowledge in the recruiting space to answer them.
How do I mimic in-office, full day, executive interviews? You know the ones -- coffee with the recruiter in the morning, a tour of the office, interviews, a casual lunch with the hiring manager, followed by more interviews and potentially meeting the board or investors in the afternoon.
Chief Architect @ e-Commerce/POS provider
Dear Chief Architect,
We’re glad you’re thinking about this question, because many other leaders are too. Here’s why it matters:
Many organizations are moving to a remote-first environment
Many organizations that still have an office environment and are returning back to the office are open to candidates in a broad geological area - i.e. anywhere in North America. While you could give local candidates an “in-office” interview experience, you would be giving them an unfair advantage
Remember - interviews are a two way street. As much as you interview the candidate, the candidate is interviewing you: Your culture, your leadership team, and for lack of a better word, the “vibe” of this role and team. In-office interviews are as much of an opportunity to sell the candidate on this role as it is to interview them for it.
So - what should you do?
Option 1: In-person
If you’re attached to the idea of being in person, then of course you can fly all candidates in for an in-person “day”. This only works if you have an office location and/or all relevant stakeholders (interviewers) are in the same city, give or take.
There’s something to be said about in-person connections that video calls can never replace.. But this can be costly and time consuming.
Option 2: Mimicked “in-person” full day / half day interviews
This is your chance to be creative. Sketch out what an actual in-person interview day would look like from start to finish, and go through line item by line item to create substitutes. Here’s an example:
9 - 9:30 AM: Virtual coffee with the recruiter/ HR leader
Send the candidate either a coffee/tea delivered to their door (UberEats, DoorDash, etc), or a Starbucks/Tim Hortons gift card in advance so they can get themselves a coffee. Even if they don’t use it for that day, it’s the thought/effort that counts.
Offer for this to be a phone call → you don’t want to fatigue the candidate with too many video calls!
Another option would be to have this call the day before to be able to prep the candidate for what they can expect & share more details about who they will be meeting with.
Encourage the candidate to ask any and all questions about your culture, benefits, values, expectations for the day, etc
9:30-9:45 AM: “Culture” videos or a virtual tour!
Do you have any videos showcasing your employees? Your culture? Your facilities? Your team events? This is your time to shine! Send the candidate these links and stay on the phone/zoom as they watch, giving them an opportunity to ask questions in real-time.
10:00-12:00 PM: Interviews
Aim for panel-style interviews where you can… when you determine interview steps, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this interview?” If multiple steps have the same purpose, combine ‘em or cut ‘em!
The goal here is for everyone to assess for chemistry and how they would successfully partner together.
12:15-1:00 PM: Lunch with the Hiring Manager
Ditto to the virtual coffee: Either deliver them lunch or send them a gift card to do it themselves.
Set up the hiring manager with ice breaker questions. Yes, you read that right. Video calls have a tendency to seem formal, but sometimes informal conversations are the most telling!
Encourage the candidate to ask any and all questions!
For full day interviews - we recommend a large break midday to give them a chance to catch up on urgent emails, calls, etc. Resume interviews at 1:30 or 2, giving the candidate a chance to reset.
You’ll notice we baked in bio breaks between interview steps - don’t exhaust your interviewee!
Complete all mandatory “show-stopper” interviews prior to this half/full day (e.g. an initial hiring manager interview, any technical interviews, etc) to make the most of everyone’s time.
There you have it - mimicking your full day, in office interviews with a virtual half day or full day that doesn’t exhaust your interviewee but still gives them the insight scoop on what makes your organization unique and exciting. We hope this was helpful. If you have other ideas, suggestions or comments, please share them with us over social or at firstname.lastname@example.org