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The ins and outs of virtual interviewing

Joanna Belmar our consultant managing the role
Posted by Joanna Belmar
Published on 30 August 2019
Virtual interviews have moved beyond the realms of techno-gimmick in recent years and are now a mainstay of many organisations’ recruitment processes. Technology has improved dramatically and both candidates and employers are increasingly prepared to be flexible – and digital – during the interview stage. We’re now seeing video technology being used by 60% of hiring managers and recruiters, with online and digital recruitment tools only predicted to increase in popularity over the coming years.
But how straightforward and effective are video interviews in reality? And what do people need to know before they embark on their next online job interview?

What are the benefits of digital interviewing?

Remote, online interviewing can save employers a huge amount of time and money, particularly during the screening process and when interviewing candidates who do not live locally. With 50% of the UK workforce predicted to work remotely by 2020, according to the Office of National Statistics, we’re going to see many more flexible and virtual working situations in the future. So why not set a precedent early by including remote virtual interviews during the recruitment process?

Organisations often look for ways to reduce the time to hire and improve recruitment efficiency. Video interviewing can be instrumental in this. The traditional model of screening, scheduling and conducting in-person interviews can be extremely time-consuming, particularly when trying to juggle multiple people’s schedules and locations. Case studies suggest video interviewing can dramatically reduce time to hire, whether that’s by allowing candidates to record their interview for hiring managers to review later or allowing both parties to interact live online. For executive-level hires, virtual interviews allow leaders at different locations around the world to join remote panel interviews without the physical requirement of all being in one office. 

Video interviewing can also be instrumental in attracting the digitally-savvy millennial workforce, particularly when you consider that Gen-Z and millennials are now more likely to communicate with each other digitally than in person

For candidates, video interviews can feel as nerve-wracking as in-person alternatives, however the ability to conduct them from the home (or another chosen space) can provide some comfort. They eliminate the need to travel to and from the interview, navigating transport schedules and unfamiliar locations, and allows more flexibility to schedule interviews at a suitable time. As such, nearly 25% more job seekers say they’d prefer a live video interview to an in-person interview. 

What are the challenges of virtual interviewing?

Regardless of how confident the candidate is, even the most prepared and digitally-savvy jobseeker can clam up in front of the camera. This type of interview may not come naturally to some, particularly if there are technical issues or time lags. To navigate this, those participating in virtual interviews should prepare their environment and tools in advance, testing any tech equipment and ensuring they will not be interrupted throughout the process.

Both candidates and employers may miss the natural rapport-building opportunities that in-person interviews can afford, and as such, most employers who implement video interviews will still require a final in-person meeting before making the hire. 

How can jobseekers and employers prepare for virtual interviewing?

There’s a variety of software video conferencing tools that are popular for virtual interviewing, including Skype, Zoom and GoTo Meeting. For anyone preparing to conduct or participate in a virtual interview, it’s crucial to test the software well in advance of the interview’s start time, including checking audio levels and ensuring the camera is in the right position.
For candidates, it is advisable to do a test run where you can see how you’ll appear to your interviewer. Wear something appropriate for the job you’re applying for, position yourself in front of a neutral backdrop and ensure there are no distractions nearby. 

Employers should be mindful of consistency when conducting video interviews to ensure equal opportunities for candidates. Consider using one-way (pre-recorded) video interviews during the screening process and progress to live conferencing when you have qualified candidates who have progressed to the next stage of the recruitment process. 

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