Video Interviewing

Remote controls

More and more interviews are being done on Zoom: during the initial (screening) stages it doesn’t make sense to invest financially and logistically to fly a candidate on-site. For remote-first organizations, that is doubly true.

But remote (video) interviewing introduces a risk—will your interviewing team conduct these interviews well? Will they give the candidate a first-class experience that makes them want to join your company? Here is a 5-step checklist to make sure you have everything laced up properly:

#1 Logistics and Prep

Make sure that both candidates and interviewers are prepared for the interview. On the candidate side this means assigning a reliable point person who promptly keeps the candidate updated with where they are in the process. On the interviewer side, this means individual interviewers having a clear view of their interviewing calendar, adequate buffer time to stat the interview promptly, and initial question guides. One of the main candidate complaints with remote interviews is that companies can appear disorganized and interviewers can be unprepared—don’t let this be you.

#2 Buffers

Relatedly, adopt 45-minutes as your time block for screening interviews (not the first conversation a recruiter has with the candidate—I mean the first interview that the candidate is going through. 45-minutes is long enough to get great information and have adequate time to answer questions (and sell the candidate) and process your notes before moving to your next interview or meeting.

#3 Low-hanging fruit

This may sound obvious, but a lot of people don’t have the following dialed in:

  • Strong internet connection
  • Even front-lighting: minimal backlighting, minimal side lighting. (You want the candidate to be able to easily see your facial reactions—both for rapport connection as well as your ability to subtle cue that you want to interrupt)
  • Close enough to the camera to where they can clearly see your face (no interviewing from a zoomed-out conference room camera)
  • Clear, high-quality audio.
  • Specifically, avoid laptops whenever possible—especially when your keyboard typing is audible because you’re using the laptop’s built-in mic. Laptops also force you to choose between either 1) a suboptimal viewing angle (you’re staring down at the webcam—not a great look), or 2) elevating the laptop to eye-level and having to type in an uncomfortable position.
  • No distracting/polarizing stuff in the background

#4 Video Rapport: Zoom Placement

Use Zoom “Gallery Mode” whenever you’re doing an interview. Minimize the height of the window, move it up to the very top of your monitor, and place the candidate’s face right underneath your webcam. Place your notes (you need to take notes, unless you have an AI notetaker) over your face. That way, whether you’re looking at them, or looking at your notes, you’ll be giving them great eye contact the entire time. Humans value eye contact a lot—it’s important for developing and maintaining rapport with the candidate.

#5 Note taking

There are a few components of taking good notes other than the main advantage which is simply a high WPM typing speed.

  • Have your initial questions already typed out with a bullet point under each one so taking notes is easy and fast
  • Do not care about typos or attempt to correct them when typing. This is part of what your buffer time after the interview is for.
  • Develop short-hand / abbreviations for follow up questions you ask a lot, along with any real-time reads you want to capture (e.g. “LOCS” = Lack Of Self-Critique when a candidate is struggling to admit real mistakes/weaknesses).
  • If you can’t keep up with the verbatim speech of the candidate, just make sure that you capture names, numbers, and other important “meat” of the answer—you can always go back to rehydrate your notes immediately after the interview is over.

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