Video interviews: 5 dos and don’ts for employers

Picture of the author

For better or worse, video interviews have become the standard operating procedure for hiring managers. Even before the pandemic accelerated all things digital, 57% of job candidates said they preferred the video route over in-person interviews. This inclination is undoubtedly a good omen for companies looking to position themselves as technology leaders: 98% of candidates interviewed via video said the employer was innovative.

In many ways, best practices for video interviews also apply to ones you conduct in person — be early, dress professionally and prepare questions that give you a sense of the candidate’s previous experience, soft skills and body language. However, the remote hiring process also features a number of challenges you don’t have to deal with during an in-person encounter.

While interviewees can benefit from these five tips designed to help them nail their video interview, here are several key dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you’re on the other side of the (virtual) table.

Do be understanding of home invasions.

With more and more of the workforce logging on from home, personal life and work life have become blended. From chiming doorbells to cats jumping on laptops to toddlers marching through the door, disruptions can happen to anyone. If you’re in the middle of an interview and your candidate gets interrupted, be graceful and reassure them that it’s no big deal. Plus, if they have to leave the room, it gives you a chance to assess how the interview is going and outline key talking points to bring up when they get back.

Don’t get caught off-guard by technical difficulties.

There’s nothing more stressful than spending the first few minutes of an interview fiddling with technology. No matter how well prepared you and the candidate are, fickle wi-fi, webcam malfunctions and screen-sharing snafus can eat up time and hinder the flow of conversation.  As a backup plan, exchange phone numbers with your candidate. If either of you run into a problem, a phone call will do in a pinch.

Will the candidate need to download any software? Create a username and password? Be sure to send over any step-by-step instructions, dial-in information and links at least three days in advance.

Do use a virtual background if there’s a chance you’ll get interrupted.

Virtual backgrounds on Zoom, Skype and other platforms can be a fun way to express your personality and start a conversation. Plus, if there’s a chance you’ll get interrupted, a virtual background will keep distractions to a minimum. If you decide to go with a virtual background, be sure to test it firstvirtual background issues are common, and you may appear blurry or fuzzy — not ideal if you’re virtually meeting a candidate for the first time.

Don’t schedule back-to-back interviews.

Like in-person meetings, it’s wise to allow a buffer between each video interview. Between technology and connectivity hitches on the front end and the candidate’s questions on the back end, it can be easy to run overtime. As you schedule interviews and send access codes to candidates, be very careful to set up separate meeting rooms for each one. You definitely don’t want an awkward situation where one job seeker joins the meeting a few minutes early while you’re finishing up an interview with their competitor.

Do record the interview (if you get permission).

Recording lets you relax and focus on getting to know the candidate during the interview. Later, you can review the footage to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Recording also gives you the chance to share interviews with other key stakeholders who couldn’t attend. Keep in mind — some candidates may find recording to be invasive and may be uncomfortable with that red button staring at them. So make sure you get their permission before you hit record. 

What to read next