Working from home and virtual interview tips

We are living and working through very challenging times. Some experts are predicting that the US unemployment rate will increase by up to 20%. Those are Great Depression numbers and do not account for the people taking less pay, having hours cut or taking voluntary leave. It might not be top of mind right now, but it’s ever so important to be thinking about how to continue your current recruiting processes.

First, be empathetic and compassionate as you are connecting with both potential clients and candidates.

Virtual interviews are key whether we want to limit the spread of Coronavirus or just to tap into what technology will allow in 2020. Interviews don’t have to be in an office or in person anymore. While your recruiters or managers are at home over the next few weeks or if they happen to be remote, have them conduct phone interviews as well as virtual interviews. Virtual interviews will provide all the same information necessary to make the right decision on who your next employees will be. It’s important to continue with talent acquisition even in these unknown times. Filling your pipeline and being ready to pull the trigger will be crucial when the world returns to normal. Here are some steps to take to prepare, maximize the experience for the candidates and take away any employee anxiety of something new.

  • Help your team members prepare:  Interviews are the first real peek into any organization for potential/future employees. Help your employees use your companies’ preferred virtual platform. If there isn’t one, then this is a perfect time to try one out. Some user-friendly video conferencing services to check out are GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.
  • Sound quality: Make sure the audio is working well. Candidates can then focus on the questions and not trying to hear the interviewer. If the room has an echo add a rug or other soft textiles.
  • Camera: If you are using the camera on a phone make sure to put the phone on a stand. It’s best not to hold your phone up because it will shake. Shaking video is extremely distracting. 
  • Lighting: Lighting in a room does not need to be fancy. Don’t go out and spend a ton of money on lighting. Just turn on the lights in the room, open the windows shades and maybe bring in an extra lamp if it’s still too dark. 
  • Screen view: The viewer should be able to see you from the waist up. If the interviewer is either too close or too far away, then they’ll either be looking up your nose or not be able to see you at all. Either way, test out where you’ll be sitting. 
  • The room: The part of the room that is visible to candidates should be clean and uncluttered. A plant is always a nice touch. 
  • Attire: Wear what you would normally wear to an interview. It should be professional and reflect company guidelines. If you usually wear a shirt with the company logo then wear that. If you usually wear a button-up and tie then wear that. Always wear pants. You never know if you’ll need to reach for something or drop something. The last thing you want is to show off your pajama bottoms and take away from your professional interview.
  • Schedule the interview to be an hour long. Do not exceed the scheduled time unless the candidate is able to do so. End the interview early if all answers have been completed. There is nothing more awkward than an interview that goes on too long with two people just staring at each other. 
  • Have the candidates’ resume printed out in front of you. The last thing you need is for your screen to freeze or for you to take extra time to search for it. It also helps to have researched the candidate in advance and to have a few questions in front of you as well. 

Working from home for the first time? Here are some tips to help the adjustment: 

  • Get dressed! While it sounds fun to stay in your pajamas all day it can be less motivating. So, get dressed for work because this will put you in a professional mindset. Plus you can easily answer the door or get the mail without having to rush and put on clothing. 
  • Have music, a podcast or even the news playing on low in the background. The background noise helps make it feel more like an office. Just have the tv remote, device or pause button close in case you get a call. 
  • If you happen to have kids at home, assign them a task right before you jump on a call. A note on your office door to let them know you are on the phone is a helpful reminder that you are working. 
  • If you have pets, make sure to put them in their crate or in another room for a call. A delivery or random visitor can be very disruptive. 
  • Stick to your regular schedule. Allow for a coffee &/or snack break as well as lunch. Make sure you have COB as well. While you can check emails if you choose, to try to make sure you have mental breaks and maybe even workout breaks. 
  • For long conference calls where you don’t need to be in front of your computer, take them outside. Walk around the block, water your lawn or just soak up some sun in your backyard.
  • Keep learning! Follow industry leaders’ podcasts, listen to (or read) their books and watch tutorials whenever possible. This is a great way to stay sharp and pass time when things are a bit slower. Maybe you’ll pick up on something that will be helpful.

While times are tough the market will bounce back, hopefully, sooner rather than later. It’s key to have candidates add all interview notes in your Applicant Tracking System. All candidates should be asked similar questions in order to be able to compare properly. Add additional notes as the conversation flows. Offers should be ready to go for when the market bounces back. Offers can be extended quickly and employees can start right away. This will help departments be fully staffed when all hands on deck will be needed.  

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