10 tips for stress-free video interviews

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The way we conduct job interviews has changed due to Coronavirus, with in-person interviews being almost completely replaced by video interviews instead.  Although the technology to run video interviews and conferencing has been around for quite some time, it’s only recently become widely used due to Covid restrictions, so many recruiters and hiring managers are much less familiar with using video to conduct interviews remotely.

These ten tips will help even the most inexperienced video interviewer conduct a professional, effective interview with the minimum of stress for both themselves and the candidate.

1. Set expectations and communicate early.  Provide an expected timeline for how long the entire selection process is expected to take. Be realistic about this; one of the great benefits of video interviews is that they have allowed the selection process to speed up significantly – do take advantage of this opportunity.  Make sure the candidate knows how the video interview will be conducted, which platform you’ll use, how long it will take and what type of interview format it will be (competency-based, informal chat, aptitude or psychometric testing, problem-solving etc, will it be recorded). Give the interviewer’s name and provide some instructions on how to use the interview platform; be clear about whether they’ll need to download any software and consider including instructions on how to use (and remove) virtual backgrounds and filters on your chosen video conferencing platform to prevent one of your interviews becoming an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons (like a certain Texan lawyer who found himself attending a court hearing with the appearance of a kitten thanks to an unexpected Zoom filter he was unable to remove!)

2. Always provide a backup phone number for your candidate to call you in case of technical issues, and ensure you have their number too.

3. Consider whether you’d like to record the video interviews. If you decide you will, inform the candidates in advance. While being recorded may make the candidates more nervous (so you will need to make allowances for this), it does give you the opportunity to view the interview again later to remind yourself of the candidate’s responses. You can also show the video to others involved in the selection process. But do ensure you follow both  your organisation’s privacy policy and the current GDPR rules. If in doubt, take legal advice.

4. Because video interviewing is tiring for both the interviewer and the candidate, we don’t recommend running them back-to-back. But if this is unavoidable, and you are using a platform like Zoom, make sure you keep a unique conference link (or ‘room’) for each candidate to avoid the possibility of someone arriving early for their interview and inadvertently joining the preceding candidate’s interview.

5. Do have your own practice run using your chosen video platform before the interview starts. Check your internet connection is working, and that you are in a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Look around you and check the video view of your background for distractions, keep it as clear and calming as possible. Sometimes interruptions are unavoidable, candidates may have children and partners at home – you’ll need to be understanding and avoid judgment if this happens to your candidate.

6. Spend more time than you usually would at the beginning of the video interview putting the candidate at ease. It’s much harder to read behavioural cues on-screen than in person, and many people find the very act of appearing on a screen stressful or distracting, so it’s up to you as interviewer to help them feel as comfortable as possible before you get into the main interview.  Don’t forget to smile!

7. Alway use a standard set of questions for your interviews, and ensure you give each candidate ample opportunity to answer each of them fully.  This is important to ensure you can objectively compare the candidates afterwards.

8. Because of the additional stress that interviewing via video causes for most candidates, it’s good practice to keep the length of the interview shorter than a traditional face-to-face interview would usually be. Zoom fatigue is a real thing and can affect both candidates and interviewers.

9. With the shorter length of video interview in mind, it’s good practice to set up two interviews per candidate. The first interview is a short 20-minute chemistry call, for interviewer and candidate to get comfortable with each other and assess whether the fit is likely to be a good one. The second interview (scheduled within a few days of the first one ideally), is the more formal, structured interview to discuss experience, requirements of the role, and conduct any assessments.

10. As with traditional interviews, always follow up your video interviews with information about the next steps and the expected timelines involved. If your organisation is new to video interviewing you may want to ask your candidates for their feedback on how it went and ask if they can suggest any improvements. It’s a great opportunity to learn and improve while the format is still new to most of us; it won’t be long before all recruiters are expected to be experts in this format, and candidates will use their experience of being interviewed by video to help inform their views of your organisation as an employer. Delivering the best video interviews could be a real boon to your employer brand, so now’s the time to make sure yours are up to scratch!

If you’d like any help with your interview techniques, get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can help.


Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash