Interviewing via video conferencing during COVID-19 pandemic

Top tips

02 / 06 / 2020

Under the current pandemic situation, holding face to face interviews is likely to be problematic for employers, under the latest government restriction guidelines around remote working and social distancing in order to keep people safe.

Many organisations already conduct interviews using video conferencing facilities such as Whatsapp, Skype, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, WebEx and others. Below are some suggested tips that may help ensure interviews held remotely run smoothly and effectively.

  • Wherever possible and practical, ensure there are at least two people on the interview panel. Having someone who is currently working in the role, or in a similar role, will be helpful to ask more questions to further assess the person's suitability and competencies to deliver certain tasks or responsibilities that might be relevant to the role.
  • Take all reasonable steps to assess applicants using a range of methods to appraise attitudes and values. You may also want to consider including values based questions as part of the interview.
  • Prepare candidates as best you can; check if they have the necessary equipment and software for the interview, outline what you are hoping to get out of this stage of the recruitment process, check that they have somewhere quiet and private to talk, send candidates a "how to" email with information on how to access the platform you will be using and prompt them to do a trial run with a friend, if they're not used to using the software. 
  • If you are recording interviews, try to let the candidate know you are doing so in advance.
  • Consider the most appropriate setting to conduct the interviews, remember you are representing your organisation, so try to ensure backgrounds, for example, are as professional as possible.
  • If possible, have a pre-interview check with candidates while they are waiting to be interviewed. This will allow you to mitigate against connection problems and keep interviews flowing.
  • Consider your privacy policy and whether you want to inform candidates they should be joining through a private internet link, e.g. a home connection or a designated booth in an internet cafe, but not publicly available wi-fi in a coffee shop.
  • Find a quiet space to conduct the interviews, put your phone on silent and mute your computer's notifications, these can cause distractions if they go off during the interview.
  • Test electronic equipment and IT systems in advance of interviews, to ensure there are minimal glitches - this is one of the most important factors since no-one knows when a technical or network fault may occur.
  • Consider the timing of interviews - this is particularly essential when communicating with applicants overseas and time difference may be a factor.
  • Consider the option of allowing candidates to send pre-recorded answers to questions. This could be helpful for candidates without access to the software needed for live video interview.
  • Try to leave some time between interviews, in case they overrun, or give a unique joining link to each candidate, so people do not join before one interview is finished.
  • Consider how you will keep successful candidates warm. This could involve a buddying system where an existing team member can keep in touch with the candidate in the time before their start date. You could also provide candidates with regular updates on the progress of their pre-employment checks.
  • Problems may arise despite your best laid plans. Have a back-up plan in case things do go wrong, this might involve calling the candidate and switching to a phone interview. Before the interview starts, let the candidate know what they should do if the software or technology isn't working or fails mid interview.
  • Be mindful that some countries do not allow access to certain programmes. If you are recruiting internationally, make sure you check that a candidate can access your preferred piece of software legally.

There are a number of useful online blogs on video conferencing which provide further top tips for both employers and candidates to consider.

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