Even after two years into a global pandemic, companies are still struggling to integrate certain parts of their businesses into the virtual realm. From virtual meetings to online etiquette to workflows, the shift to the remote world hasn’t exactly been seamless. But one area in particular sticks out more than others: the virtual interview.
The issue behind the difficulty of the digital interview isn’t just the platform or media where it’s conducted. It’s the entirety of the process. Employers can’t always gauge the personality or professionalism of the candidate. Reading body language is difficult. And moreover, the subconscious idea of taking an in-person interview and simply replicating it for the digital world creates even more problems.
So whether you’re an employer or an employee, you may face an uphill battle to master the virtual interview. But with strong interviewing skills, a modernized and remote update to traditional interviewing processes, and a fresh list of relevant questions and answers, both employers and employees can turn the virtual interview from a nuisance into an interaction glowing with positivity.
Virtual Interview Strategies & Tips for Employers
Virtual interview strategies depend on your budget, time, and how many people you plan on interviewing for the position. But one common thing ties them together: streamlining the process. While you have the final say on how you get ready and conduct interviews, these tips should give you a basic concept of how to perform them effectively.
Choose the Right Platform
While Zoom and Skype are two of the most popular platforms to conduct virtual interviews, they certainly aren’t the only options available. Many well-established companies have developed virtual meeting platforms to meet demand, while smaller companies continue to provide more boutique options depending on your needs.
Several aspects play into your choice of the interview platform. Cost, ease of use, functionality, and the ability of the interviewee to use the software without a steep learning curve are essential. If Skype or Zoom aren’t meeting your needs or you just want to try something different, here are a few of the more popular options:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Meet
Once you’ve chosen a platform, the next step is to prepare for the interview itself. While there’s no right or wrong way to put together an interview, you should formulate some sort of plan for the purpose of cohesion, familiarity, and hopefully, a second-nature approach to future interviews.
Questions to Ask During the Virtual Interview
One of the biggest mistakes that you might make during a virtual interview is failing to tailor your questions to the remote work world. While some questions from in-person interviews may carry over to the digital interview, others require alterations or a new angle. This is by far the most difficult aspect of your virtual interview prep work. So if you need a place to start, consider a few of these questions for your next interview:
- Icebreaker questions to help the candidate relax; try to keep these light and simple
- What steps do you take to complete your work from home if you can’t get in touch with a coworker or a manager?
- What’s your home office setup like?
- What’s a typical day look like when you’re working from home? Do you have some sort of structure? Or do just go with the flow?
- What are some ways that you handle distractions when you’re working from home? What are your major distractions that can cause you to get off track?
- Do you have any tips or strategies that help you stay on task during the day?
- Have you worked from home before? If so, what makes you a great remote worker? If not, what experiences do you have that can help you transition?
- What keeps you organized? Do you use specific programs or do you just go with whatever is on your mind?
- How quickly can you adapt to new programs, software, and collaboration tools?
You can go beyond these questions and create some of your own. Just make sure that you incorporate a heavy dose of remote work-related questions along with job-specific questions to get the most out of your interview.
Instructions for the Interviewee
Regardless of what interview platform you use for the interview, don’t assume that applicants will automatically know how to use it. Instead, you should create step-by-step instructions on how to set up the interview software and send it to any applicant as soon as possible. Include information such as:
- Whether the applicant needs to download software
- How to create a user name and password
- Any other pertinent information, such as how long before the interview they need to be in the virtual meeting room
- Reiterate the need for the applicant to test their mic and camera prior to the interview
The Test Run
The test run is the final part of the interview process that can help you work out the kinks and bugs. Conducting a mock interview with someone in your organization is the best way to complete this process. By doing this, you can assess:
- The lighting in your home office
- If you can hear any background noise
- How your background appears to the other person (less is more here)
- Any other potential issues
If you notice any issues, fix them immediately and then go the extra mile: consider the interview from the perspective of the employee. Having another person on the other end of a mock interview can help you create a better experience from both sides of the interview.
Virtual Interview Strategies & Tips for Employees
Employees may have an easier time during a digital interview, simply because the prep work is a little less involved. Moreover, many of the aspects of an in-person interview carry over to the virtual interview. This can make the transition a little less overwhelming. However, you should incorporate this run-down of topics and preparation into your interview. Again, the key here is time and effort. You only get what you give, so following these tips should give you the upperhand over other candidates:
- Practice makes perfect. Instead of memorizing the answers to potential questions, just practice them. Practice will also allow your personality to shine rather than just spouting out regurgitated or cliched answers to questions.
- Do a test run when you practice and record it if possible. Note any issues you have with body language, such as talking with your hand or any other activity that could be distracting.
- Try to make a connection with the interviewer by asking general interest questions, especially during the icebreaker session at the beginning of the interview.
- Dress professionally or to the directions you’re given by the interviewer.
- Study the company, including its history, current projects, and other notable aspects.
- Create a background that’s void of distraction.
- Test your mic and camera.
- Follow up within 24 hours of the interview.
The Virtual Interview: Constant Fine-Tuning Leads to Success
Beyond virtual interview tips and strategies and your prep work, you have one final task: fine-tuning. Think of virtual interviews as a living, breathing organism. They need to adapt to survive. The same idea goes for virtual interviews for both employers and employees. After finishing an interview, taking notes on what went well and what you can improve is essential. Then, take these ideas and incorporate them into your next interview.
Keep in mind that the process is never really complete. But the more effort you put into preparation and adjustments, the better results you’ll see. It’s just another moving part that keeps you on top of your game in the digital workplace.
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