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How to interview someone virtually when working from home

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
It’s now easier than ever before to work remotely and keep connected. (Getty Images)

The number of Covid-19 infections globally has continued to rise at a rapid pace — particularly in Europe — as the coronavirus outbreak worsens. More than 11,000 people around the world have died so far and many countries have declared nationwide lockdowns to help stop the spread. 

In the UK, many people are self-isolating and pubs, restaurants and shops have shuttered. The public have been asked to work from home where possible to avoid contaminating others. 

Thanks to technology, it’s now easier than ever before to work remotely and keep connected and productive with staff, colleagues, bosses. But there are times when being out of an office - and not being able to speak to others face-to-face - makes things more complicated, such as interviewing a job candidate. 

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Video interviewing is becoming increasingly popular among employers to vet potential hires. So how can you make the process work for you? 

“If you find yourself, as many will, in the position of hiring whilst working remotely, there are several steps you can take to ensure you both conduct a successful interview and find the right candidate for the role,” Steve Orr, regional managing director at the recruitment and HR company Hays

“As far as remote interviews go, video interviews and the additional visibility they provide are  

best suited to both conveying a good impression of your organisation and enabling you to decide whether the candidate is the right fit,” he says.

“A live video interview is best for the mutual interaction it provides, giving the interviewer the chance to get an idea of what soft skills the candidate has.” 

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Before you conduct an interview through video conferencing, it’s important to prepare for it. Even as the interviewer, you shouldn’t go blindly into the video interview process. There are practicalities to consider, such as a good internet connection and a quiet area to conduct the interview. 

“Preparing beforehand is perhaps even more essential when conducting a remote interview. The style and format of a face-to-face interview can remain the same, such as pre-preparing questions for the candidate,” Orr says.

“In addition, just as you would expect from your interviewee, do your best to counteract any tech difficulties by doing a test run of the software and ensuring that all appliances are adequately charged. Also take steps to ensure you will be undisturbed throughout - which could be tricky if others are working from home or you also have children at home.” 

Pick the right platform

Deciding on the right platform is also important, with options including Skype, BlueJeans, FaceTime and GoToMeeting. “Consider, however, that not all candidates will have access to certain tools, so make sure they are aware of all details beforehand and have the right software to hand,” he adds. 

It may be harder to try and convey your organisation culture to a candidate through a video interview, so you should make sure you have set aside some time to share details of the kind of values you stand for. It’s also crucial to outline the qualities you look for in prospective employees and what day-to-day life looks like in the office. 

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“You might not be there now but even more reason to try and give them a picture about what office life looks like and insight into the company culture. Make sure you give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions about this too,” Orr says. 

And just because you aren’t physically in the same room as the candidate doesn’t mean you can’t assess their body language. “When assessing the candidate take notice of how they are communicating with you – are they speaking in a professional manner or are they more informal? Look at their body language, level of engagement and consider the environment in which they have chosen to be interviewed,” Orr says. 

“It is inevitable amid the ongoing challenges that video interviews will become more common practice, so remembering these tips will be useful in order to guarantee a successful hire and keep business running smoothly.”