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Top tips for conducting virtual interviews

James O'Dowd, Managing Partner - Patrick Morgan

While hiring may have been minimal for most in 2020, many businesses have entered the new year with optimism for growth and an appetite to invest in resources. This has resulted in a significant increase in businesses looking to accelerate new hires. However, with a large talent pool to hire from and the traditional in-person interview methods not possible, employers are met with a challenging virtual interview process, of which firms need to adapt to best navigate the new recruitment opportunity.

Here are my five top tips for employers, to ensure successful interviews of candidates virtually:

1. Put EQ at the at the heart of the interview process. Employers are still able to capture the essence of a candidate virtually by observing a candidate’s manner and how they engage. Social skills, self-motivation, and preparation are more important than ever in this new digital age; therefore, interviewers should be mindful of and assess whether candidates tick these types of boxes. For example, are they maintaining eye contact, are they able to pick up on body language cues, do the actively engage in dialogue by returning to early points, are they passionate about the opportunity and articulate this well over a video call?

2. Prepare the candidate for the nature of the meeting. We had an incident recently where a candidate logged into an interview in a full suit and tie, while the interviewers were in jeans and T-Shirts. This experience can leave candidates feeling very awkward and often lose engagement. Despite having traditional corporate reputations, we have found that many of our clients dress down to a smart-casual outfit for most virtual meetings.

3. Bear in mind that modern day interviewing is really a two-way process and you need to sell your business to the candidate as much as they need to sell themselves. Employers need to build a relationship and trust with a candidate – this is tough to do virtually and in the space of an hour or so. Therefore, it’s important for employers to carefully consider how they communicate the company’s culture, and what benefits an employee can get from the role. Employers should highlight what’s available to new employees in terms of team building and support during current lockdown circumstances and remote working, but also what they could expect in a ‘normal’ working day, once things return to a new normal.

4. View the virtual meeting as an opportunity to assess a candidate’s IT and presentation skills in one. For example, the share screen functions allow the candidate to present past work or even a pre-prepared proposal. These presentation skills are vital, as they demonstrate how a candidate would engage with colleagues and clients.

5. Many of our clients have reportedly begun creating a 15-min block in the diary after interviews to allow themselves time to collate observation, notes and feedback on the candidate. With schedules so tightly packed as we shift from one virtual meeting to the next, it is easy to move on and forget smaller yet vital details from an interview. The best time to note feedback is directly after an interview, otherwise thoughts get lost. Also be sure to update each candidate regularly, supporting them as they progress through your process, as this will create clear lines of communication, transparency and trust.

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