Hiring from Home: A 3-Part Series
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organizations to transition to remote and work-from-home options. While some organizations are putting a hold on new hires, many are still moving forward with recruitment and adding new members to their teams. In the temporary absence of face-to-face interviews, what are the best alternatives? How can you roll them out quickly? Is it feasible to complete the hiring and onboarding process remotely? This 3-part series on hiring from home will provide answers to these questions and cover the following topics: perfecting the phone interview, video interviews done right, and remote onboarding.
Last week, In part one, we discussed the value and significance of the phone interview. For steps on how to perfect your phone interview, read that article here. This week we discuss the video interview.
Part 2: Video Interviews Done Right
On the rise
It will come as no surprise that video interviewing has been on the rise long before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey back in 2012, 60% of HR managers reported using video to conduct an interview. Their prevalence has only continued to rise and while the number of organizations using them in 2020 is still unknown, I suspect it will be a record year. In the past, the majority of video interviews took place in scenarios where an in-person interview wasn’t available but there is a growing list of reasons why video interviews are becoming more frequent.
The first and most obvious reason (at the time of writing this) is the shutdown of many physical office locations. Since the spread of the recent coronavirus many North American companies are now fully remote. As a result, many companies were forced to move exclusively to remote interviews, if they hadn’t been doing so already. Google and LinkedIn moved exclusively to remote interviewing almost a month ago, on March 4th and 5th respectively.
Time, Money, & Flexibility
Beyond the pandemic, reasons to consider utilizing video interviews include time savings, money savings, and flexibility for both staff and candidates. Time savings refers to two things: tightening up your daily schedule by not requiring candidates to come in person, and using video interviews to shorten the duration of the entire hiring process. On average the hiring process takes 45 days to complete. The flexibility of having the interview online helps to shorten that timeframe by moving interviews up, often into smaller time-slots, increasing availability and making for quicker decisions. There is also the option of one-way video interviews, which can be completed immediately and are not dependent on the availability of the recruiter or HR staff.
The normal online interview is a 2-way conversation via a live video stream. In a one-way interview the candidate is provided pre-determined interview questions to go through on their own time and record their answers on video, through a software such as Spark Hire (discussed below). Those recorded answers are reviewed later by a recruiter or HR staff member. The process the candidates go through can be customized which makes this style very flexible. Time limits for answers, number and type of questions, and testing are a few of many elements that can be altered. This style means employers can view many more applicants than previously possible due to time or resource constraints. A recruiter can watch several minutes of video and rule in or rule out candidates in that time, versus spending 30-60 minutes meeting candidates in person and conducting interviews (not to mention time spent changing or rescheduling interviews). While this can be a great option in some scenarios, this blog is primarily focused on the virtual one-on-one interview style.
Video Interview Options
In 2020 there are more video interviewing options available than anyone would care to read about. The software available ranges from free, straightforward video chat applications to Enterprise level software with built-in ATS (Applicant Tracking systems). To keep it simple I will present 4 of the best options out there. Spoiler alert, Skype is dead.
- Zoom – this tool is completely free if video calls are kept under 40 minutes and is very user friendly. Paid plans start at an affordable $20/month per host. Good option right now for remote team meetings and basic interviewing.
- Microsoft Teams* (replaced Skype for Business in 2019) – *If you are already using Microsoft teams, the solution is built-in and it’s a great option. If you are not using Teams already, this will bring on far more features than you’re likely looking for and it may be simpler to look elsewhere.
- Spark Hire – While the two options above are great video chat tools, Spark Hire is a platform specifically built for recruitment. The candidate experience is far better because of this, and features such as one-way interviews, interview downloads, built-in scheduling, and evaluation tools make this a top choice. Because of this functionality the cost starts at $120 USD/month, and to facilitate multiple jobs simultaneously the price jumps to $250.
- VidCruiter – This highly customizable software is also purpose-built for recruitment. It allows you to keep it simple and save money if you only need tools for hosting a great video interview, while also offering a full recruitment platform if needed. A great option for any budget, with custom quotes based on what features you actually need. VidCruiter.com
The Candidate Experience
It is important to keep the candidate experience in mind during the video interview process. While some candidates may have no problem navigating this process, it will undoubtedly be new for some. We want to make sure we’re minimizing any potential roadblocks or frustrations along the way. The video interview process reflects on your organization as much as an in-person interview, so a professional and progressive experience should be top of mind.
Provide instructions for the interview well in advance in order to provide time for the candidate to test their remote setup. Send an e-mail that Includes links to useful pages such as FAQ’s, help sections, or tutorial videos. Make no assumptions on a candidate’s proficiency on the software of your choice. This is why choosing a user-friendly software is a very important factor to consider before making a purchase. Go through the process with a colleague in a trial run where you fulfill the role of the candidate to understand how the software works on the receiving end. Lastly, as an added precaution, provide a backup phone number they can call if there are any glitches and ask for one from them as well.
Make sure to test your setup in advance so you can be confident that both audio and video will work reliably. At the beginning of the interview confirm with the candidate that the audio is transmitting well. If either one of you do run into problems don’t worry, you certainly won’t be the last person to do so. Remember to be understanding if their set-up takes a little extra effort. Enjoy the brief game of charades that ensues while you try to explain you can’t hear their voice. There are several features, depending on the software you are using, that go a long way in making your call more professional. Blurring your background can be helpful in eliminating distractions and providing a professional feel, especially if there might be movement behind you. Adding your company logo or branding to the screens can be done on a number of the software applications, VidCruiter being one of them. Remember to square your face/upper body in the center of the frame and ensure the lighting is adequate in advance. Maintain eye contact as much as possible and remember to speak clearly and loudly. All these little things add up to make a big difference in the look and feel of your interview.
One of the great things about video interviews is the ability to read body language and facial expressions. Just like a normal interview take time early on to greet one another and feel comfortable. When you meet in-person there is some time to shake hands (remember those days?) and introduce yourselves as you meet in the lobby, for example, or walk to the interview room. Take some time at the beginning to build that rapport and comfort-level before diving in.
As with the phone interview, you want to have a mix of targeted questions and more open-ended and conversational questions. Everything should be standardized and measurable, but you also want to provide opportunity for them to really take time to demonstrate who they are and how they interact. Video interviews are a great opportunity to dig into questions on culture fit. A question such as “tell me about a workplace (or work culture) that you really enjoyed and what made it so great?” You can also ask the opposite and learn about a culture they did not enjoy. These question can reveal a lot about what work cultures suit them best and provide insight into how well that might align with your culture.
Clear Next Steps
Having a clear future is an important part of wrapping up any interview. Outline the next steps to the candidate: when should they expect to hear back? From whom? If next steps are already known, determine the date and time together right then. Discuss any follow up documents that might be sent. Ask them if they feel clear and if they have any final questions themselves.
Throughout the hiring process it’s important to make the most of every interaction with applicants. Having a professional and efficient video interview process saves time, money, and offers valuable insight. Following the steps outlined in this article will make the most of your video interviews, save money, and speed up the hiring process to help find the right fit for your organization.
Part 3 of the Hiring from Home series will be released next week. The topic: Remote Onboarding.
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