The Virtual Interview: Using video conferencing for job interviews

If one clear trend has emerged from the Covid-19 lockdown, it is the rapid increase in the use of video conferencing technology, not only in the workplace but in our private lives, too. Many of us have patiently tutored older relatives, coaxed our technophobe friends or perhaps enlisted our tech savvy kids to help us master the learning curve.

29 April 2020

At Flexology, not only are our clients using video conferencing to conduct work meetings, brainstorm, or catch up with team members, they are also getting used to conducting jobs interviews.

Those who are quick to adapt to this environment may find they are able to gain a competitive edge on their rivals, many of whom are suspending hiring activity until normality returns. We are seeing high quality candidates coming onto the market in the wake of the initial economic fallout brought about by lockdown. Now would be a good time to take advantage.

Whilst there is still a perception that virtual interviewing is somewhat less than optimal compared to a face-to-face interviewing, that you can’t really get a feel for the candidate, and that there is a certain amount of risk involved, there are ways to make things run smoother.


Set the right tone

You are setting the standard for your potential candidate and that means paying attention to how you come across. Setting up in a quiet, well-lit and uncluttered environment lends an appearance of professionalism, as does dressing smartly – like you would when interviewing normally.

Since we’re often talking to friends or loved ones through these platforms, its easy to drift into informality. This can be helpful to get a chance to see the more human side of your candidate but you’re really looking how well your candidate responds to probing questions, demonstrates their skills and would fit in your organisation. Having an interview plan and structure in place can help steer the interview in the right direction.


Choose the right platform (and stick with it)

There can be a lot of variability in functionality between different platforms. It may be helpful to test several platforms to see what works for your organisation. Helpful questions to ask include:

Can you record video calls?

It may be useful to record the interview (with the candidate’s permission, of course) to go back and review their interview performance or to share with the CEO, HR department or other hiring managers before making a decision.

Can you share screens?

Often, particularly in competency interviews with exercises, it can be helpful to share screens with the candidate to collaborate on a document in real-time.

How well does the platform manage multiple users?

This is particularly important in panel interview, where multiple participants need to be on a call. Most platforms support this but be aware of performance limitations in larger groups.

Once your preferred platform is in place, ensure this is standardised throughout the company, and also generally accessible to people outside the organisation. This will make interview scheduling and coordination run smoother.


Virtual impressions

Whilst it may be true that some things about human interaction are lost through a digital medium, it’s helpful to bear in mind aspects of our own psychology that affect how accurately we evaluate others online. As users we often experience time delays using video conferencing. Research shows that even extra gaps of only 1.2 seconds in conversation can influence how we perceive people we’re speaking with, making them appear less attentive and less friendly. Candidates may focus their gaze on the interviewer onscreen rather than looking directly into the camera, which can give the impression of avoiding eye-contact. Be aware of your biases here and try to remain objective.