How to Interview a Candidate on a Video Call

remote video interview

There’s so much happening when you conduct an interview with a job candidate. You’re trying to make them feel welcome and at ease in a moment when they’re likely feeling nervous. You’re trying to get to know a total stranger’s personality and job history, and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. You’re trying to imagine this person as a functional part of your organization. And, if you’re interviewing candidates remotely, you’re trying to orchestrate all this seamlessly through video conferencing software. 

Are you preparing to conduct a video interview? These five tips will help you ensure you–and your candidate–have an experience that rivals an interview in person.

1. Communicate Your Plan — and Your Back-up Plan — With Your Candidate

As you work with your candidate to confirm a time to conduct this phase of the interview, be clear about the fact that this will be a video interview, and as such, they will need a functioning webcam to participate. As you do, you’ll want to let them know as much as possible about what they should expect that day.

For example: What video conferencing service will you be using to host this video interview? Will they need to download anything in order to successfully complete this call? Walk them through the instructions for getting onto the video conference, ensuring that whether they are using a Mac, PC, or smartphone, they can easily access the conference. Provide them a phone number or chat line they can contact with questions if they run into trouble connecting.

You’ll want to have a back-up plan for if you experience any faulty connectivity issues on your end. So, in this email, you should also confirm that you have their correct phone number. Let them know that if you experience any issues with the video conference, you’ll give them a call and interview them that way. 

2. Choose and Set Up Your Location 

Once you’ve squared away your plan with your candidate, it’s time to figure out where you’ll be conducting the interview. If you don’t have your own office, perhaps there’s an office you can utilize or a conference room you can book for the duration of this call. Other options might include a room in your home or a quiet nearby co-working space. What matters the most is that you choose a quiet location with good lighting that is clean, well-lit, and lacks visual and audio distraction.

Once you know where you’ll be, take some time to set things up. Reverse your webcam to get a sense of what your background will look like, and do some light organizing and rearranging to ensure that you’re making a welcoming first impression for your candidate. Remember: What matters most is how things are framed on camera: So, for example, that strategically placed fern won’t look so great if it appears to be growing out of your head during the interview.

3. Ready Your Tech

Do a test run. Hold a test video conference with a remote colleague to ensure the volume on your microphone is right, that your audio is on, and that your camera is on. Have your colleague take a peek at your background to ensure things look clean and neat. 

4. Minimize Possible Disturbances

About 10 minutes before the interview starts, take a moment to surveil your belongings and surroundings. Put a block on your work calendar indicating that you are on a call, if you haven’t already, and, if you’re in your office, consider putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Put your cell phone on silent, and lower the volume of your desk phone, if you’ve got one. Close out of any chat-based applications you’re using on your computer. And, if you’re planning to share your screen at all, be sure any desktop notifications are turned off. 

5. Be Deliberate About Your Vocal Cues and Eye Contact

It might feel awkward, but there are a few things you will want to do a bit differently to make your candidate feel more at peace during your video call. Remember to:

  • Speak a touch more slowly than feels natural. This will ensure your candidate hears every word.
  • Look into the camera to create a sense of eye contact. When you look into the image of your candidate’s eyes, you’re really looking at their chin–which can make them feel subconsciously uneasy.
  • Maintain positive facial expressions. You’ll want to ensure the candidate feels that you are engaged throughout your discussion. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to interview a candidate on a video call, it really comes down to preparation. By getting set up in advance and testing your hardware before it’s time to hold the call, you can ensure you have plenty of time to work out all the bugs that would otherwise make the experience awkward for yourself or your candidate. Happy interviewing!

Photo by Brooke Cagle