As COVID-19 continues to cause businesses to close offices, the ones still able to hire are exploring how to shift their in-person recruiting strategy to a virtual one.
Conducting virtual interviews comes with the added benefits of lower costs, increased diversity pools, no travel times and more.
Interviewing costs include everything from taking the candidate out to lunch on the day they come into the office to flying in interviewees and interviewers. Video conferencing solutions are more cost effective and still provide a satisfactory amount of human interaction.
To be respectful of candidates coming onsite to interview – especially if they are in school or currently have another job – it’s best practice to have the candidate meet the entire interview panel in one day. Unfortunately, it can be extremely challenging to juggle the calendar availability of 4-7 interviewers in a 4-6 hour time span. Every time I schedule an onsite interview, I feel like I’m playing a stressful game of Tetris and my main goal is to line up each interview back to back seamlessly without large awkward breaks.
With virtual interviews, the headache of onsite interview scheduling is immediately eliminated. If both parties - candidate and interviewers - are at home, it’s no longer imperative to have the interviews back to back. Now you can schedule the candidate around the interviewer's natural availability. Breaking up the interview schedule adds another benefit to the candidate because it allows them to take bio and snack breaks.
Time-to-fill is a very important metric to track in recruiting. Knowing how long it takes to fill a role informs the business on things like how difficult the role is to fill, how organized the recruiting process is and how cooperative the interview team is in clearing schedules for interviews. Most recruiters would attest, onsite interview dates are often pushed out and delayed because the interviewers are too busy to squeeze in interviews.
With virtual interviewing, scheduling can be more flexible so it’s easier to fast track candidate virtual interview dates. Getting candidates in front of the interview panel faster will yield quicker hiring decisions so candidates can be onboarded faster and therefore reducing the time-to-fill metric.
Companies have been conducting job interviews for many decades and it typically includes a traditional in-person meeting. Modern technology has equipped companies with a long list of virtual communication tools to choose from for people to stay connected. Since in-person interviews are not an option right now, many companies are turning to virtual recruiting solutions to facilitate their recruiting program.
If the budget allows, aim to use a best-in-class video conferencing solution like Zoom or Daily because the recruitment process is typically the first exposure candidates get with the company. If your company uses an outdated technology that is difficult to use or unreliable, it could send a negative message to the candidate on how the company makes investments on tools and resources. Bottom line: Don’t be frugal with virtual recruiting tools.
A benefit to conducting a virtual interview is having the ability to record the session. There are times where interviewers forget what the candidate said during the interview. Before the interview, inform the candidate they will be recorded and gain consent. After the interview, the interviewer can go back through the interview recording to gather notes and make final decisions.
I highly recommend the recruiting team collects the interview videos as well for quality control purposes. Watching interview recordings will give the recruiting team an inside view of how the interviewer interacted with the candidate. This valuable insight will arm your recruiting team with feedback for the interviewing team and identify topics for interviewer training.
Virtual interviewing eliminates most of the administrative burden that in-person interviewing entails. Scott Honsberger, Head of People Operations at Mixtiles, commented “I love the efficiency of virtual interviewing, in that there’s no travel time for the candidate, no need to book a meeting room, no need to coordinate waiting rooms, etc.” Scott also believes virtual interviewing is more inclusive. “Virtual interviewing expands the talent pool to include people from different geographical locations.” Widening the pool geographically enables people to interview and potentially receive the job offer without spending money to travel.
Many candidates are hesitant to travel for job interviews even if they fully intend to move to the city where the office is located because it’s a lot of money to put on the line for something that may not happen. Not all companies will pay to fly candidates out to interview and if they don’t, the burden is left on the candidate to front the money. With virtual interviewing, candidates can fully vet companies from the comfort of their own home, secure the job offer and sign on without spending a dime on travel costs during the recruiting process.
It's a natural human instinct to make judgments on people when you first meet. That’s why people always say, “First impressions always last.” Unconscious bias creeps into onsite interviews all the time. We judge the way people are dressed, how they look, how their hair is styled, and especially based on their behavior. If someone is extremely nervous, we tend to equate nervousness with not being qualified even if the job doesn’t require them to be a polished public speaker. Unless you are interviewing someone that will be the face of the company or will be constantly communicating with customers and outside vendors, we shouldn’t discount someone if they come to the interview extremely nervous.
Another added benefit for virtual interviewing is that people with disabilities are able to interview from their home environment where they are most comfortable. A good recruiting program ensures the very best people are hired because they meet the requirements of the job and have the essential skills to succeed. Video interviewing keeps some of the discriminating biases from seeping in.
Job interviewing can be anxiety filled for many people. The high level of anxiety around interviewing can make it difficult to communicate clearly in the interview and even sabotage the candidate’s chances of landing the job. Virtual interviewing eliminates some of the unnecessary added stress like picking out the right attire, getting stuck in traffic, finding parking or potentially spilling coffee on themselves during the interview. Interviewing virtually enables candidates to interview from a comfortable space and bring their best food forward.
Virtual interviewing has become the new normal for most companies. It’s up to us to embrace our new lives during these unprecedented times and follow social distancing and stay at home orders in all areas of our lives including business. It may feel a little awkward to interview virtually at first but once you get the hang of it and make small adjustments, business can move forward as usual.