Virtual Interview Best Practices: Everything You Need to Know

by Jobbatical October 08, 2018

Virtual interviews can be intimidating for all parties, but hiring managers need to get past any discomfort to assess their candidates accurately. This article will provide the best practices for the HR side of a virtual interview, including setup, questions to ask, and how to vet them.

Why you should master virtual interviews?

Tech talent is mobile, in-demand, and key to supporting growth and innovation in a business. According to VC firm Balderton Capital, 43% of employees in European tech industries aren’t citizens where the company is headquartered.

With this in mind, HR managers who want to stay ahead of the curve must look to international candidates to find the best talent. This means everything from finding global-minded candidates online to interviewing them virtually.

Virtual interviews can be intimidating for all parties, but hiring managers need to get past any discomfort to assess their candidates accurately. This article will provide the best practices for the HR side of a virtual interview, including setup, questions to ask, and how to vet them.

Virtual interview best practices for HR

Maintain a professional setup

There are plenty of articles out there teaching candidates how to ace their remote interviews. The meat of the advice is to exude professionalism. Interviewers should do the same; conduct interviews in a quiet environment without distracting background noise, wear professional attire, and make sure you have a strong Internet connection.

Don’t rely on candidates to provide the infrastructure needed for your virtual interview. Use the same platform for all candidate interviews, and make sure it has recording capabilities so you can review the interviews later if needed.

The list below includes some of my go-to video conferencing tools. Many of them offer free versions, and have video recording capabilities. Just be sure to let your candidates know you will be recording the call.

Test everything

Regularly test your software to ensure it’s functioning well and makes it easy for candidates to show up. Test your setup hours in advance, and check sound quality, Internet connection, and video quality.

The company looks unprofessional when an interviewer hasn’t checked to make sure everything is working properly. This will cause delays that either take time away from the candidate, or will cause the interview to go overtime. Both situations create stress and further delays down the line.

Pay attention to the candidate’s communication skills throughout the process

As you virtually interact with your international candidate, pay attention to how quickly they respond to requests, how well they communicate their needs, and the kinds of questions they ask. These factors indicate how well the candidate will communicate with your team in person.

When it comes to conducting virtual interviews, video is a must. Since you can’t meet in person, video allows you to make eye contact with your candidates, and see their expressions when asking and answering questions. We recommend having more video chats than you would normally have face-to-face interviews, since you’ll want a clear picture of how well-spoken the candidate is in person and on the screen.

Ask the right interview questions

As with an in-person interview, you must choose the right questions to get proper insight about how your candidates work.

Here are some questions you should ask to reveal the best candidates for your team.

Interview questions that reveal who candidates are

These interview questions will help you discover who the candidate is and what they value. They’re great for evaluating behaviors, self-awareness, desire to learn, and other things.

  • Name three people whose careers you have impacted positively and briefly explain how you helped them advance.
  • How would someone who doesn’t like you describe you?
  • What would you like to learn on the next stage of your career?

Find out how candidates work with these interview questions

Some interview questions are particularly good at offering insight into work habits, whether candidates take initiative, how they handle conflict, and how they operate in teams. Your candidates’ answers will give you key information about how well their working habits will fit into your company.

  • Tell me about an independent project you completed, or a task you took the lead on in your team.
  • When is the last time you experienced a misunderstanding at work? How did you resolve it?
  • Do you prefer to work with a team or autonomously?
  • How do you best communicate with your colleagues?
  • What collaboration/project management/productivity tools do you use?
  • How do you ensure you hit deadlines?
  • What’s the best and worst feedback you’ve ever gotten? How did you implement/react?

Questions about their role in your company

These questions focus on the candidate’s particular role in your company, and how well your ideals align. Since you’re recruiting someone internationally, it’s important to iron out the details before they step into your office and all the relocation expenses have been paid.

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What is the first problem you expect to have in this job?
  • Are you looking for full-time, part-time, or contract work?
  • What are your ideal working hours?
  • Are you willing to travel for work? How often and how far?
  • Are you willing to relocate for work? How much notice would you need?

Give candidates a test task

A paid test task is a great way to see how the candidate interacts with your team on a project. You’ll be able to observe communication skills, teamwork, time management, and other key behaviors such as whether they ask for help when they need it or not.

Be sure the task is useful for your business, but not vital. For example, you can ask someone how they would fix a bug or add a new feature, but don’t give them access to your live database or put them on a time-sensitive fix.

Bring them to meet the team in person

This isn’t always a best practice for interviewing an international candidate, but it could be a good move for your team depending on time and budget. Bringing someone to meet your team in person is useful, but if you’ve gone through all the steps above, you should already have a good idea of how well the candidate would do in the role.

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