Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What Is a Virtual Interview?
A virtual interview is a type of job interview that takes place remotely using video conferencing or online communication tools. Instead of meeting the interviewer in person, the candidate and interviewer connect through a virtual platform, allowing them to see and hear each other in real time.
Why Have Virtual Interviews Become More Popular?
The availability of reliable and user-friendly video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype has made virtual interviews seamless and accessible. These platforms provide features like screen sharing, recording, and chat, enhancing the interview experience for both parties.
Virtual interviews accommodate different work environments and situations, such as remote work arrangements, or unexpected circumstances like a pandemic or natural disaster. It allows hiring processes to continue uninterrupted and ensures business continuity.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Interviews
While virtual interviews offer numerous benefits, it’s important to note that they may not be suitable for all positions or industries. Certain roles may still require in-person assessment, hands-on demonstration, or face-to-face interaction to fully evaluate candidates.
Pros of Virtual Interviews
Advantages of virtual interviews include tapping into a global pool, being gentle on the environment, saving time and money, and convenience.
- Global talent pool. Virtual interviews enable employers to tap into a larger talent pool by conducting interviews with candidates from different geographical locations. This expands the reach of recruitment efforts and allows organizations to consider qualified candidates who might not have been feasible to interview in person.
- Environmental considerations. Virtual interviews contribute to reduced carbon emissions by eliminating the need for travel, resulting in a smaller ecological footprint. This aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.
- Time and cost savings. Virtual interviews save both time and money for both candidates and employers. Candidates do not need to take time off work or incur travel expenses, while employers save on expenses related to travel arrangements, accommodation, and meeting space.
- Accessibility and convenience. Virtual interviews are easier to schedule, particularly when dealing with remote candidates or individuals located in different time zones. It also reduces logistical challenges and costs associated with organizing in-person interviews.
Cons of Virtual Interviews
While virtual interviews offer many advantages, they come with their own set of disadvantages that range from connectivity issues to miscommunication and possible interruptions.
- Limited non-verbal cues. Compared to in-person interactions, non-verbal communication cues may be less apparent or more easily misinterpreted in virtual interviews. Facial expressions, body language, and subtle gestures may be harder to pick up on, potentially affecting the interviewer’s ability to assess a candidate accurately.
- Technical difficulties. Technical issues like poor internet connection, audio or video glitches, or software malfunctions can disrupt the flow of the interview and hinder effective communication. These technical difficulties can be frustrating and may create an unfavorable impression for both candidate and interviewer.
- Lack of personal connection. Building a personal connection and rapport can be more challenging in a virtual setting compared to face-to-face interactions. The absence of physical presence and reliance on technology may make it harder for candidates to establish a connection with the interviewer, potentially impacting their overall impression and the interview outcome.
- Distractions and interruptions. Virtual interviews may be susceptible to distractions or interruptions from the candidate’s or interviewer’s environment. Background noises, interruptions from family members or pets, or other unexpected interruptions can disrupt the interview process and reduce its professionalism.
- Limited assessment of work environment. Virtual interviews do not provide a comprehensive view of the candidate’s work environment. Employers may not be able to assess factors like office setup, organization skills, or the candidate’s ability to work in a specific physical environment, which could be important for certain roles, and potential employees are unable to feel what it would be like to work for the company.
- Technical comfort and skill. Candidates who are less familiar or comfortable with video conferencing technology may face additional stress during virtual interviews. This could potentially impact their performance and hinder their ability to showcase their skills and qualifications effectively.
Types of Virtual Interviews
It’s important to note that the specific type of virtual interview may vary depending on the company’s preferences, the nature of the role, and the hiring process. Employers may also combine different types of virtual interviews to gather a more holistic assessment of the candidates.
One-Way Video Interviews (Asynchronous)
In one-way video interviews, also known as asynchronous video interviews, candidates record their responses to interview questions using video recording software or dedicated platforms. Unlike synchronous interviews, where there is real-time interaction, in one-way video interviews candidates do not have direct interaction with an interviewer.
Two-Way Video Interviews (Synchronous)
Two-way video interviews, also known as synchronous video interviews, are virtual interviews where the candidate and interviewer participate in real time through a video conferencing platform. This allows for direct interaction and conversation between the two parties, similar to a traditional face-to-face interview.
Virtual Assessment Centers
Virtual assessment centers are comprehensive evaluations that assess candidates across multiple exercises and simulations. Candidates participate remotely in various activities such as role-plays, case studies, presentations, and group exercises, which are observed and evaluated by assessors.
Phone interviews involve conducting an interview via a phone call instead of using video conferencing software. The interviewer and candidate communicate verbally but without visual cues. Phone interviews are typically used for initial screening or when video capabilities are not available or preferred. They allow employers to evaluate a candidate’s verbal communication skills, tone, and responses to questions.
Chat or Text Interviews
Chat virtual interviews, also known as text-based interviews, are conducted through messaging platforms or chat interfaces. Instead of a live conversation, the interviewer and candidate exchange messages in real time. Chat interviews can be synchronous, where both parties are online simultaneously, or asynchronous, where questions and responses are exchanged at different times. They are useful for assessing a candidate’s written communication skills, attention to detail, and ability to articulate thoughts through written text.
Best Practices for Conducting a Virtual Interview
Virtual interviews can be different from in-person interviews, so it’s essential to adapt your approach accordingly. Here are a few best practices to prevent interruptions and provide the best experience.
Test the Technology
Before the interview, test your video conferencing platform, internet connection, and any other necessary tools or software. Familiarize yourself with the features and settings to ensure everything is working properly.
Create a Professional Environment
Choose a quiet and well-lit location for the interview. Make sure the background is clean and free from distractions. Dress professionally and encourage the candidate to do the same. Pay attention to your body language and maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera.
Communicate Instructions in Advance
Provide candidates with clear instructions on how to join the virtual interview, including the video conferencing platform and any additional steps they need to take. Inform them about the interview format, estimated duration, and any technical requirements they should be aware of.
Confirm Time Zones
If you’re interviewing candidates from different locations, be mindful of time zone differences. Schedule the interview at a time that is convenient for both parties, or consider offering alternative time slots to accommodate different time zones.
Engage With Active Listening
During the interview, actively listen to the candidate’s responses. Show genuine interest and engage in active conversation. Take notes to help you remember important details later. Avoid multitasking or distractions, and give the candidate your undivided attention.
Use Assessment Tools
Consider incorporating online assessment tools or simulations to evaluate specific skills or abilities relevant to the role. These tools can provide additional data points and objective measures to supplement the interview process—for example, coding challenges for developers or case studies for business roles. Develop a set of evaluation criteria aligned with the job requirements and competencies. This could include factors such as communication skills, problem-solving ability, teamwork, and relevant experience. Use these criteria as a framework to assess each candidate consistently.
Strategies to Evaluate Virtual Interview Performance
Both candidate and interviewer feedback is needed to ensure success. Here are a few strategies to evaluate virtual interview performance.
Utilize Candidate Feedback and References
After each virtual interview, consider sending a feedback survey to candidates. Ask them about their experience, impressions of the hiring process, and any suggestions for improvement. This feedback can help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your interviewing approach and make adjustments as necessary.
Post-interview Evaluation Discussions
Conduct post-interview discussions among interviewers to share their observations, impressions, and evaluations. This helps ensure a comprehensive assessment and allows for a collective evaluation process. Discussing candidate performance can help identify any discrepancies, clarify evaluation criteria, and reach a consensus on final assessments.
Conduct calibration sessions among interviewers to align their evaluation approaches and standards. These sessions involve reviewing and discussing sample candidate responses, evaluating them based on the established criteria, and reaching a consensus on scoring or rating. Calibration sessions help minimize bias and maintain consistency in evaluations.
Regularly review the virtual interview evaluation process and solicit feedback from interviewers. Identify areas for improvement and adjust evaluation criteria or techniques as needed. Learning from each interview cycle and making enhancements contributes to a more effective and fair evaluation process.
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Remone Robinson is a high-achieving Human Resources professional with extensive experience and success in talent management, strategic communication, and regulatory compliance across several industries. He is a motivated self-starter who draws on strategic planning and change management skills to enhance HR policies and operations. He has an extensive background in performance management, training & development, and diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging. Remone earned a Master of Science (MS) degree in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University. His passion and vision for HR led him to become a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) from SHRM and a Certified Professional in Human Resources® (PHR®) from HRCI.