Your Guide to Virtual Hiring
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
As we all navigate the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning how to do things virtually. Hiring someone without ever meeting them in-person is daunting, many companies are deciding whether to hire now or wait. But getting over the hesitation is necessary for companies that continue to operate and grow during this time. And in fact there is a window of opportunity to take advantage of fewer competing recruiting messages and a rich pool of professionals and leaders who are eager to find a secure and positive work environment.
For companies that are continuing to hire, we have some best practices to share. Here are some tips to equip you with everything you need to design and host virtual interviews and make informed hiring decisions. In fact, we’re seeing many benefits in the move to virtual interviews - mainly the ease in scheduling when there is no need to work in travel time. Just find a quiet spot and (maybe) comb your hair :)
Before you start:
1. Define the steps and select video and virtual tools
Review your current interview process and evaluate how each step can be made virtual. There is no need to make unnecessary changes, but you’ll need to rethink how you’ll balance both candidate experience and qualification.
Use physical interview scorecards? Move them online.
Have group interviews? Find a video tool that supports this.
Have a presentation step? Find a tool that works for that too (such as screen sharing).
2. Select your selection team
For any open role, define who will be involved in assessing skills and fit, and who will have a vote in the final decision. Define steps and roles, ideally using the same people consistently for every candidate.
3. Collaboration is key
4. Train and Prepare Interviewers
Hiring managers typically lack training and skill in traditional interviewing, so moving to virtual interviews could be tricky. We could write a book on this alone, but basically you want to create a positive candidate experience and also have confidence in your decision.
Make sure interviewers are clear on their objectives and know what you are ideally looking for in a hire.
Be sure they understand the role in detail and that they know how to help sell the company and the job.
All interviewers should know the basics of what can and can’t be asked in an interview.
Create a question bank of skills-based and behavioural based questions
Make a list of questions and topics that are off-limits (yes, we still hear of interviewers asking illegal and inappropriate questions!)
While it is easier these days to find an open slot of many calendars, it is still a good idea to buffer interviews with both prep time before the interview starts and time to put notes together afterwards.
If you are attaching resumes and notes to the interview invitation, be sure to mark them as private to help keep candidate identities confidential.
6. Recruiting Status Meetings
In addition to sharing feedback in realtime, have a weekly meeting with your hiring committees to gather feedback, make decisions and keep momentum in your processes. We know that for most people in your company, the recruiting task is not part of their core job, so it is critical to carve time out to keep this priority on track. Data shows that if a candidate does not hear feedback within 48-72 hours, they’ll get the impression that there is a lack of interest, and their enthusiasm will wane.
The Virtual Interview:
Ideally, your interviews should leverage video. This will give you better candidate connection, putting the candidate at ease and giving you a more authentic sense of their personality and body language. Remember not to make judgements based on the candidate’s surroundings (sometimes finding an uncluttered and distraction-free environment just isn’t an option.)
1. Tools, Tools and more Tools!
Where it is an option, password protect the interview room to prevent unwanted drop-in visitors.
If you are using free versions of tools such as Zoom, understand the restrictions (time or user limits). It is definitely worth a small investment in a tool that is secure and reliable.
Specific to the virtual interview environment, make sure your interviewers have tested the technology and have an area free of distractions. Just like the interviewee, they should close all open tabs and turn off notifications so that they can give undivided attention.
Consider recording video interviews. This gives you the option to review afterwards and also to bring in other decision-makers who weren’t able to join the meetings. Just ask permission from your interviewee first, and respect confidentiality.
Leverage collaboration tools like Slack to gather and share information about candidates and open positions.
2. Manage Expectations
Have messaging prepared for candidates that can be shared before the interview. Be sure to include instructions on how to use your video interview tools, along with names and profiles of the interviewer and a way to connect if there is a technical difficulty or need to change something.
Have clear timelines and an agenda and ideally share these in advance. Enabling a candidate to prepare will send a positive message and give you better insights.
Be sure to take the situation into account as you make judgements. Someone who is self-isolating in a crowded environment with young children will interview very differently than someone living alone. Be mindful that everyone is experiencing the challenges of Covid-19 in their own way, and in the long-run this is not a way to predict success in most roles.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Do you typically bring final round candidates out for dinner and give them a tour of the office? Get creative and offer up some delivery from a local restaurant and maybe a bag of locally roasted coffee beans.
Make a virtual office tour video to give the candidates a feel for your workspace.
Have all managers and key people record a short video introduction in their home office set-up that can be stitched together with some fun music. There is great economy in recording this once and sharing with everyone!
4. Review and Iterate
Have an interview debrief or “retro” to discuss what worked and identify gaps. Ask your hiring committee members and also ask candidates. The fact that you care about the experience will say a lot.
Tweak your process and remember it will take some time to create a seamless process. Take your learnings in stride and give yourself some grace.
We will get through this with creativity and patience. And with some luck and effort we’ll all come out the other side with a stronger team and some great new interview skills and tools that will continue to be valuable.