Virtual assessment-based interviews have widely been moved by organisations from the customary face-to-face scenario.

Online interviews when conducted correctly, can be an effective assessment tool, giving a sense of the candidate’s communication skills and enabling accurate evaluation of key role-specific competences from the outset.

The unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19, is forcing many businesses to adopt new methods and for some, this will be the first time a virtual platform has been used.

This alternative approach needn’t complicate matters.

There are certain guidelines we recommend you consider when holding virtual interviews to guarantee high-quality assessments of applicants.

Check Your Tech

Scheduling a virtual interview correctly takes time and while it may seem like a trivial point, getting the technical side of things working properly is essential for a smooth experience.

Ensure you are familiar with your chosen platform and that hardware including microphone and camera work.

Lighting must also be addressed as this will affect how well you can see each other as positioning within a room and proximity to windows can cast unsightly, distracting shadows.

If using headphones, make sure they’re producing quality sound output.

Be wary of any potential background noise or interference that may affect the sound quality. You didn’t go through the hassle of the short-listing process only to fall short at this crucial stage, so involve your candidate in testing the set-up ahead of the assessment day too.

Any short set-up guides would benefit them especially if they’re not technology savvy. This will go a long way to help calm their nerves (and yours) in what’s already a potential stressful situation.

Build Rapport

The dynamics for remote interviews is unlike that of in-person interviewing, so getting the tone right is key.

Make time for small talk, perhaps five to ten minutes ahead of the scheduled time to set your candidate at ease, then present an appropriate agenda before starting to ensure a successful, productive interview and accurate timekeeping for all involved.

If the fact that interview conditions will be accounted for when reaching a final decision, let your candidate know.

A common mistake when taking part in video conferences or interviews, is that attendees spend a lot of their time looking at the screen.

For better effect, look into the small camera of your device so as to make virtual eye contact and facilitate better communication.

Look to the past to inform the future

Virtual interviews only have one real set-back, and that’s getting a true sense of someone’s personality.

It’s a fact you’ll need to accept, it’s nowhere near as effective as having a person sitting right opposite you so you can watch out for non-verbal reactions.

In light of this, focus on the structure and type of questions you ask during interview, especially when hiring for your future leaders.

Base your questions to assess results of actual past behaviours.

“What did you do…” or “How did you respond when…” questions rather than hypothetical “what would you do…” responses, will allow you to be more able to predict future likely behaviour in role.

To give an example of more effective, structured, competency-based questions you could revert to these types of phrases:

“Tell me about a time when you…”
“Give me an example of a task / difficult conversation you’ve successfully completed / achieved a successful outcome.”
“How have you delivered?”

You’ll notice all of the questions are in the past tense and are a much better indicator of strengths and weaknesses of your candidates.

Virtual Might be the New Reality

There’s no getting away from the fact managing teams virtually might become a permanent requirement going forward. And it might be that part of your assessment will involve how well your candidate adapted and communicated to this virtual environment.

Consider structuring questions around this to gain insight into their ability to work in this way.

At the End of the Day

You’ve managed to get through your virtual assessment-based interview with your mid-to-senior level candidate hire without a glitch!

All that’s left following your interviews, is to reflect on the performance of your candidate, examine notes and consult with colleagues to inform your decision-making.

Welcome to a new (virtual) reality!

We hope you’ve found this article useful and would welcome you sharing your experiences of conducting virtual interview-based assessments.

We work with HR and Resourcing Directors, Recruitment and Retention Managers across many sectors but specifically the NHS who understand the need to hire the right candidates. They recognise personality profiling is an integral part of that process.

Often, they’re worried about the amount of time spent setting up and preparing assessments and profiling reports meaning they can’t complete other key areas of business.

Have a real frustration with the lack of trained resources who can effectively produce, interpret and compile results in a timely and efficient manner. And sometimes concerned that in times of budget restrictions, think they’re spending way more than necessary on assessments and profiling but unfortunately unaware of alternatives that could save them as much as 70% on outlay.

If you’re reading this and think that these challenges may also apply to you, contact us through the website or speak to one of the team on 01271 864 016.

Follow us on LinkedIn by clicking this link!