People Strategy

7 Must-Know Tips for Conducting Successful Video Interviews

May 15, 2020
February 22, 2024
Amanda Cross
Lattice Team

The work world has changed drastically in the last few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, teams that were used to going into an office every day have seen their daily routines dramatically change. The same goes for the hiring process, which doesn’t stop just because we’re not all going into an office anymore. HR professionals, recruiters, and candidates alike have all been accustomed to face-to-face interviews. However, in the current climate, that’s not even an option for many companies and candidates now under lockdown.

Even in this turbulent time, your company still needs to make essential decisions about interviewing and hiring, while adhering to the standard of excellence you established for your in-person interviewing process — and simultaneously maintaining social distance. Here’s where video interviews have come to the rescue.

The Benefits of Video Interviews

According to a recent study by recruiting and applicant software company Jobvite, many recruiters are now using video as part of their screening process for candidates. In fact, Jobvite found that 80% of the recruiters surveyed are using video in the interview process.

At Lattice, our recent report on how HR teams rose to meet a global crisis showed that about 60% of the companies we surveyed only had 10% or less of their workforce working outside the office before the pandemic. Now, 60% of these companies are 100% remote.

In light of the global health crisis, companies need to adapt the way they conduct all work-related tasks and activities, and technology is enabling organizations to be nimble and quickly implement the necessary changes. Whereas a phone interview has the additional limitation of not being able to see the candidate, video interviews are a valuable solution now that face-to-face interviews are out of the question for the majority of companies; they enable you to see the candidate and get more of a sense of how they’ll interact with you and your team.

Video interviews also save money in the long run. They allow you to connect with more candidates because the barrier for a video chat is lower than flying someone to your corporate headquarters. Converting to video interviews provides long-lasting benefits even when social distancing becomes a thing of the past.

Now that you know how beneficial video interviews can be, it’s time to make them a part of your regular routine if they aren’t already. Before you begin your video-interviewing process, there are several things to keep in mind to make them as successful as possible. Here are seven tips you’ll want to follow as you get started.

1. Familiarize yourself with the technology.

According to Lattice’s recent report, 57% of companies added new tools and technology since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. When dealing with new technology, snafus are par for the course. You can prevent any mishaps by familiarizing yourself in advance with the technology you intend to use in your video interview.

“You need to make sure you know the [technology],” said Jennifer Walden, Director of Operations at WikiLawn Lawn Care. “Whatever software you're using, know it inside and out. Familiarize yourself not just with the program as a baseline, but also with all the things that can go wrong. Know how to troubleshoot on the fly, as this will keep you from having to pause or reschedule an interview due to tech issues,” she said.

When adjusting to your new technology, be sure to test it out with colleagues before you use it with candidates. That familiarity will put you at ease so you can focus on the task at hand: getting to know and assessing the candidate.  

2. Arrive a few minutes early.

Rushing in at the last minute or running late will get any interview off to a rough start, whether it’s in person or online. This could cause you to be frazzled and distracted, so give yourself the time to get settled, prepare, and log on to the videoconferencing software calmly. That way you can put your best foot forward — you are representing your company, after all.

"Log in a few minutes in advance, being aware the interviewee may be doing the same,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, HR professional and etiquette consultant at Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. She also had some additional tips: “Adjust your lighting, and pull the blinds so that you are not backlit and people can see your face," she said.

3. Create an organized, professional space.

We all know that life is messy right now. When you’re working from home during a global pandemic, you’re juggling a lot every day, and decluttering can take a backseat to other necessities like work and family time. But while you're conducting an interview, your mind needs to focus on getting to know the candidate, and not be distracted or embarrassed by clutter.

"Clear your space and make sure you have the necessary materials within arm's reach,” Smith advised. “Look at your screen to see what others may see. Clear any messes and be aware of any mirrors behind you," she said.

It only takes a few minutes to go through your office and declutter before an interview. Take these precautions before your next video interview so you and the person you are interviewing can focus on the right things.

4. Come up with a contingency plan.

Everyone who’s ever used technology knows that things don’t always work out as planned. Unfortunately, technology often has a mind of its own, and this can make an interview go south quickly.

"No matter how far technology has come, there will always be issues,” said Mark Webster, cofounder of digital marketing company Authority Hacker. “Internet connections can go down, power cuts can happen, and things will never be 100% reliable. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have things on standby and ready to resume as normal," he said.

Your contingency plan should be discussed with the interviewee ahead of time. For example, you could let the candidate know that you will be conducting the interview by Zoom at a certain time, and add that if the technology is not working by 10 minutes after the scheduled start time, you’ll call the candidate to conduct the interview via phone instead.

It’s important to set up your backup plan in advance. Frantically trying to reach someone when the videoconferencing software is on the fritz isn’t going to be your best bet, as the candidate might not be checking their emails frequently while they’re waiting for the interview to start. 

5. Schedule a time that works for everyone.

When scheduling the interview, make accommodating the candidate’s availability a top priority. An interview is all about getting to know your potential employee when they can be fully prepared, focused, and at their best. Everyone has different situations and responsibilities when working from home, so make it easy for them to connect with you at a time that's convenient for them.

"Let the candidate have freedom when choosing the time of the interview. Many people are at home with their families, and they require peace and quiet for an interview. Let them choose the time that suits them best," said Dmytro Okunyev, founder of Chanty.

One of the easiest ways to schedule a time that works for everyone is to set up meetings using an online scheduling tool like Calendly. With Calendly, you can send your calendar to anyone with whom you’re scheduling an interview, which makes it easy to pinpoint a mutually convenient time. Once the meeting has been scheduled, Calendly will then automatically send out appropriate reminders for you and the candidate. Using a calendar management tool not only allows the person you're interviewing to pick the time that works best for them, but there’s also another important benefit: It cuts out a lot of time-consuming, frustrating back and forth on email trying to schedule. 

6. Be aware of the limitations.

While there are many pluses to video interviews, you still need to be mindful of the limitations, especially when you’re accustomed to conducting face-to-face interviews. As great a tool as video interviews are, when it comes down to it, they’re not an exact substitute for meeting with a candidate in person. The biggest limitation is that certain cues or body language can be harder to gauge via video.

“You need to take care with your words, because social cues people normally pick up on in person won't be as easy to detect in a video interview. If you're not sure how something will land, don't risk it. Keep things professional, and you'll gradually begin to acclimate to it," Walden said.

7. Focus on the positives.

While connecting with candidates over video is very different from a face-to-face interview, don’t let the format stop you from making a real connection with potential employees. Even though it may take some getting used to, you can still interview and onboard exceptional, highly qualified employees remotely if you give video interviews a fair shot.

"A big part of successful video interviewing is to have the same kind of conversation over video that you’d have in person,” said Erik Rivera, CEO of ThriveTalk, a platform for online therapy. “Rather than obsessing about what might be different, treat the video interview as [you would] any other interview,” he said.

Video interviews are the perfect way to move your business forward, especially during this unprecedented time. They’ll enable you to make more informed hiring decisions so you can avoid the costly and time-consuming mistake of hiring the wrong people. Now that you understand the value of video interviews and how to conduct them effectively, it’s time to log on and get started.