Seven steps to a superb video interview

Video interview

Remote hiring and remote interviews are now a much bigger part of the normal hiring landscape than they were six months ago.

Last week you will have seen our article about seven steps to prepare to host the best possible video interview. But preparing is only half the story. To help your company hire the very best possible talent during this time of distant video interviewing, here are seven steps to a superb video interview.

1. Be there first

In the world of remote communications, there is little more awkward and unsettling than logging onto an empty meeting. If your interviewee logs in only to find the server with no one inside, and they’re just waiting for you to arrive, that can not only leave them nervous, unsettled, and in no mood to give their best performance. It also paints a bad picture of company culture. Make sure that you are in place ready to receive the call/message/ping to begin the video interview at least five minutes before the interview is due to start.

2. Seize the small talk

It’s name makes it sound of little importance, but in a video interview setting, small talk is vital. It is an excellent way to acclimatise to the broader situation, to build a general rapport, and to make everyone feel much more comfortable in this unfamiliar setting. It will also give you a sense of the level of lag you will be dealing with. Your internet might reach speeds of over 80 mbps, but you have no control of what your interviewee could be working with. The small talk allows you to judge how much time to leave between sentences, and how to best avoid digitally amplified cross talk.

3. Stay aware of body language

The fact that you are doing a video interview at all indicates your awareness of the importance of body language. If it were unimportant, we would simply use phone interviews. Behavioural scientists confirm however that as much as 55% of the expression of our attitudes and emotions is communicated in the form of body language. A further 38% is expressed in the tone of our voice, leaving only 7% of our innate feelings and underlying perspectives being conveyed by our words. The underlying messages of actions like fidgeting, crossing arms, checking the time, and other such motions, are amplified by a video call. Stay self aware and keep an eye on how you move.

4. Be aware of eye contact

Direct eye contact over a video call is not possible. The moment you stare at the eyes of the person on the screen, they see a version of you looking elsewhere. This is caused by camera placement, and the limitations of the video call medium. Because of this, to give the impression that you are looking directly at someone, you will need to actually be looking into the camera lens. This is an awkward and somewhat unnatural pose, so you will probably want to use it sparingly. Otherwise you will be looking at the camera rather than the interviewee, undermining the entire point of video interviews.

5. Emphasise company culture

At a face-to-face interview, a prospective employee can tour the offices, meet potential colleagues, and generally grasp the broader feel of the workplace. Since in a video interview, none of that is possible, you will need to get creative in terms of sharing what your company is all about. Draft and develop ways of sharing your core values, your approach to workplace life, and your levels of flexibility and rigidity on various issues. Practice saying them over video calls with your colleagues, to find out what does and doesn’t ring true. The better you are at sharing who you are, the more you will find the right people for the job. The kind of people who will fit in.

6. Consider advanced assignments

Given the unexpected structure shift of everyone requiring video interviews now, putting a strong piece of prepared structure back at the interview’s core could be helpful. Giving your potential employees advanced notice of specific tasks or presentations to share on the call, could greatly assist in putting a candidate at ease, since they know well what to expect. It also helps limit problems of digital cross-talk overlapping, since for a long period of the interview, the call will be going one way without interruption. While some employers may be more keen to know how well a candidate can think on their feet, many will find value in knowing how a candidate can respond to a given assignment.

7. Be careful with recording

Note taking and recording can be awkward at the best of times, but this becomes especially true with remote interviews. If you’re using your laptop’s inbuilt microphone and webcam, typing with the computer’s own keyboard could create distracting noises on the line. Also, given the increased importance that body language has on a video call, the act of physically stopping to make notes and write things down carries additional weight. While you might want to use actual recording devices, that could create an air of unease. It might be better to have someone else specifically on the call whose entire role is note taking.