10 Tips for Creating the Best Possible Online Interview Experience

Digital interviewing is here to stay. As companies got forced into doing everything remotely in 2020, they had to quickly figure out how to interview job candidates online, even for top leadership positions that in the past would have been interviewed in person.

Conducting digital interviews is preferable in some ways, but more challenging in others. To find and attract the best candidates for your key positions, you’ve got to leverage the benefits and overcome the challenges.

Before we discuss how to conduct good digital interviews, let’s hit the main benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of Digital Interviews

Digital interviews are more efficient than in-person ones. They are easier to schedule, easier to sequence because you can run them back to back to back, and less hassle to prepare for. You don’t even need a room.

They also save money. If you’re doing more than one round of interviews, you can do your earlier rounds online, saving the expenses of travel, lodging, and all the other costly and time-consuming logistics that come with in-person interviews. Then, once you’ve narrowed it down to the top two or three candidates, you could meet those finalists in person. 

Drawbacks of Digital Interviews

The drawbacks of doing online interviews aren’t all unique to interviews. Without a handshake and with less awareness of body language, it’s harder to get a ‘read’ on the person you’re interviewing. Are their hands fidgeting below the screen the entire interview? Are their feet tapping? Are they wearing pants? You can’t tell.

In addition, you miss out on the intangible sources of information that you can glean from in-person interviews. For example, after the interview, you can go ask your secretary how well the candidate interacted with her. What was her impression of them? This can be valuable because the job candidate doesn’t have their guard up like they will in the formal interview. Online, you lose opportunities like that.

However, one of the best ways to overcome these limitations is to use scientifically formulated pre-assessment testing of skills and personality.

For high level positions, you’re looking for a very important set of soft skills. In a world where millions more now work from home, that soft skillset has changed forever. These skills are very difficult to assess in-person or online in the few minutes you’ll spend with each job candidate.

But with soft skills assessments customized to each job position, you can unearth incredibly valuable insights into each job candidate. This is one tool PainLess Hire uses to consistently deliver only the very best candidates to the companies who use our hiring consultants to help fill their key positions.

If you rely on subjective interpretations about personality and body language, you can get a lot of things wrong. You can make some terrible assumptions. Your secretary may be a great person, but she’s not a perfect judge of character based on a 2-minute conversation.

We develop customized testing and assessments for each position. Whether you hire in-person or digitally, this approach will help identify the very best job candidates to move on to the interview round.

And that’s when you can start using the following 10 tips for digital interviews.

10 Tips for Creating the Best Possible Digital Interview Experience

  1. Test Your Technology
    Before you show up for the interview, you need to know how to use the tech. Know how to use video and audio, how to share your screen, and how to use all the other features. Make sure everything is working, such as the audio quality.
  1. Have a Backup Plan 
    Even with all the preparation, sometimes the technology still fails you the day of the interview. It’s unpredictable. You need a backup plan in case this happens. The simplest backup plan is to switch to a phone call. You might also have a different device available, just in case it’s a hardware or software problem and not an internet problem.
  1. Have Your Visuals Ready 
    If you have any slides, data, video, or demonstrations as part of your digital interview, be sure they are all cued up and ready to be shared when you need them. It is highly unprofessional to make the job candidate sit there waiting while you fumble through your hard drive looking for that PowerPoint you prepared a week ago.
  1. Show Up Early 
    The interviewee is evaluating your company just like you are evaluating them. Showing up late makes a bad first impression, in both directions. But you should be there first, because you are the one who will launch the digital meeting. If they sit there waiting for you to launch it, they start to wonder if you forgot about the digital interview.
  1. Have a Good Background and Lighting Scheme
    What’s behind you matters in a professional setting such as a digital interview. Don’t just have a bare wall, part of a window, or a filing cabinet. Have something better than the copy machine or your doorway. Yes, this may mean reconfiguring the room for the interview, but it’s worth it.

You want visuals that complement the culture of your company in some way.

As for lighting, don’t have your camera facing a window, because the light from the window will cause you to be backlit. It will be harder to see your face. You want the light in front of you, not behind you. Again – set all this up and test it well beforehand so your physical setting communicates your professionalism and values.

  1. Consider Bringing Multiple Team Members to the Digital Interview
    You might have also done this with in-person interviews, but with digital interviews, it’s much easier. If part of your goal is simply to have the job candidate meet a few key people, those people may not even need to be there the whole interview. Each person could also be given the chance to ask one or two questions unique to their department or specialty.

Also, tell the job candidate in advance who will be there, including their names and titles. They may decide to look them up on LinkedIn so they can ask each person on the interview panel specific questions. Showing this kind of initiative would be a point in their favor.

  1. Eliminate Background Noise 
    Suggest this to the job candidate as well via email a couple days before the interview. Mute your phone and silence notifications. You don’t want any interruptions during a digital interview. Make sure no one is going to come into your office if you’re doing the interview from your company’s location.
  1. Look at the CAMERA, not Yourself on Screen
    This is a huge area of failure in most online interactions. We look at the screen because that is where we are used to looking when working at a computer.

For a digital interview though, this is a bad habit. If you can train yourself to look at the camera and not at the screen, especially when you’re talking, the job candidate will feel like you are making eye contact with them. Eye contact is good, and this is how you do it digitally.

  1. Smile
    Technology is inherently impersonal. Don’t make it worse by not smiling, especially when you first meet the job candidate. In person, most people do this without thinking. But just like we mistakenly look at the screen and not the camera, we also often forget to smile when we greet someone in an online video.
  1. Share Next Steps When Finished
    Again, you would do this in person without thinking about it. But in a digital interview, it’s so easy to quickly end the call because you just click a button.

But the person being interviewed needs to know what happens next after this round of interviews. Make sure you share that information as you close out the digital interview.

Find the Best Candidates for Your Open Positions

Interviewing well is important, and there is a lot of skill in doing it well. But you have to find, attract, and identify the best candidates before you get to that step.

PainLess Hire specializes in making sure you have the very best crop of potential new hires in the room, or being interviewed digitally. We find top job candidates who will slip through the cracks if you conduct your hiring process the old fashioned way, still rely on resumes, or go with traditional recruiters.

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