By Vicki Chabot & Abbey Szentes, netlogx
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned business operations upside down, but as businesses work toward a new normal and hire new staff, virtual interviews have become standard.
Gauging how an interviewee will fit into an organization’s workplace culture without sitting across from one another in-person can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
When we’re not meeting people in-person, we miss cues that are necessary to fully comprehend communication. Research consistently shows candidates who align with an organization’s culture and values are critical for successful, strategic hiring.
Here are some of the best ways to foster a connection with candidates and how to weigh a candidate’s potential — both in work experience and their ability to align with organizational culture:
Create a Plan for Virtual Interviews
As policies and procedures change throughout the pandemic, make sure everyone is on the same page about how interviews will be conducted and what software will be used. There are many free options available like Google Meet or UberConference that are easy to use and don’t require added investments.
To minimize technical difficulties, choose a preferred software and practice using it. Perform test runs 10–15 minutes before a scheduled interview to make sure the microphone is operable, screen share options are easily accessible, and there is a strong web connection available. Ensure all candidates know what the interview process looks like and what they can expect throughout the interview. Create an agenda that can be shared with candidates and other team members and be clear about the organization’s expectations for the role. If candidates are showcasing some of their work, ask for the work ahead of time in case there are poor connections. Not everyone will have the same internet bandwidth, and it’s crucial to plan for that ahead of time.
Start with a Preliminary Phone Interview
Hiring managers and recruiters receive hundreds of applications when hiring for a new position. Conducting preliminary phone interviews with candidates who have the desired set of skills and work experience can help organize the pool of candidates and prevent lost time for those who aren’t a fit at all. It is common during in-person interviews to develop rapport with candidates, but in a completely virtual world those connections are more important than ever before. While a phone call is great for screening candidates, video conferencing should be used for any other interviews. Hiring managers should ask more questions so they can get to know candidates on a personal level.
Ask Personal and Professional Questions
A virtual interview should be treated the same as those that take place in-person, but there are benefits to meeting candidates virtually. Remind hiring managers and team members to be a bit more compassionate than they would normally be when sitting across the table from a candidate. Life frequently gets in the way with barking dogs, a phone ringing, or spouses, partners and children all working and playing under the same roof. These are perfect opportunities to learn more about candidates and their day-to-day lives as opposed to only pointed questions about work skills. Yes, those questions are important, too, but in a virtual environment, there is much that can be learned about a candidate’s lifestyle and ability to handle distractions. Take notes and ask questions about the person’s hobbies, interests, and volunteer work.
Create a Process to Gather Feedback From Candidates
It’s commonplace for potential candidates to send thank you notes after an interview, but it is helpful for interviewers to do the same as they adapt to remote-only interviews. Thank the candidate for being flexible and adaptable, and ask for feedback about the process. How did candidates feel it went? Are there things that could be improved or adjusted? These questions help hiring managers and teams to refine the interview process for future candidates and provide a glimpse of how a new hire would handle communicating information internally.
Use Work Style and Personality Assessments
If hiring managers want to know how candidates will perform and communicate, a business management assessment tool, such as the Taylor Protocols Core Values Index™ (CVI) or Myers Briggs Personality Assessment, are fantastic ways to understand an interviewee on a deeper level. Too often, employees are tasked with roles and responsibilities that can make them feel like a round peg forced into a square hole. This is something a hiring manager wants to identify before training and onboarding a new hire. As a last step, these kinds of assessments can help one candidate stand out more than another and help solidify your choice to hire them.
Business leaders should anticipate changes for interviewing practices and as the pandemic continues, remote interviewing remains the best and most viable way to understand a candidate’s potential as a new hire for the organization. Having a standardized process in place for virtual interviews and establishing a cadence of questions that demonstrate candidates’ ability to react in the moment gives hiring managers and recruiters better insight. The final step should always be a short work and personality assessment, so leaders can determine the most productive place for candidates or if different candidates may be better suited for the position at hand.