Can You Interview Effectively Online?


Do you interview more effectively online, or are you desperate to get back to face to face meetings?

This is a question that many recruiters have asked themselves over recent months. Many of us have tried and tested methods which we use to draw out key information from a person in front of us, and part of that is definitely based on first impressions: How well did the candidate greet us? Did they shake the hand that was offered? Did they slouch into the seat or start the interview by complaining about the receptionist?

Whilst you can ask all the same questions as you would usually ask, should it be an expectation that everyone has this technology available to them? Does it discriminate against those who can’t access a private online interview, or should candidates be expected to find a way? These questions are important in moving forward with our recruitment processes and no doubt depend on a number of factors including the salary level and status associated with the role.

Interviewing via video has become a necessity, but some would argue that it is, in fact, a more efficient way to move forward and should become our ‘go to’ for the future. It is certainly more eco-friendly, reducing unnecessary travel and is cost effective for both parties. Those of us who have been faced with co-ordinating the schedules of several different people and tasked with getting them in the same place at the same time to interview one candidate, would perhaps welcome the possibilities that remote recruitment presents.

Whatever your thoughts are, this is something which will no doubt be at least a part of the recruitment process going forward and it is in our interests to keep abreast of developments in this area.

Where are you now and where do you want to be?

Are you an effective online interviewer? There are things to think about when preparing to conduct an online interview that wouldn’t present themselves in a face to face situation. Consider the following:

How will you put your candidate at ease?

You may have a standard question which you use to make your candidate feel welcome, maybe about how they have travelled to the interview, or asking about the weather and offering a handshake. None of this is applicable in the world of the online interview and we find ourselves asking if they had any trouble with the link. In preparing it is useful to think of alternatives to this as you are in effect entering their home and it is all too tempting to make comments about a book on the shelf or the noise in the background.

Going into someone’s home and personal space can feel intrusive from both ends and staying away from making comments about things in view of the camera is best avoided by both parties.

What will happen if the interviewee is interrupted, or the technology fails?

It is difficult enough to control what happens in an office environment, let alone that of our homes. We only need remind ourselves that even those being interviewed on national television have suffered at the hands of a toddler wandering into the room. Is this acceptable or not under the current circumstances?

Whilst it is an expectation that everyone attending an interview is prepared and has made provision for that time, protecting it as much as possible, some interruptions cannot be avoided. It should be apparent to those conducting the interview how prepared the interviewee is by their reactions and response to these interruptions. A landline ringing in the background is easier to fix than a poorly child and if it becomes apparent that the candidate is in an unusual situation, then it is perhaps best to reschedule. Someone who takes a call or has not chosen a suitable environment for the interview, without explanation should raise concerns.

It is helpful to think about how you will judge this and what you will say before the interview takes place. It is also useful to think of how you will proceed should technology fail at either end, for example replacing the interview with a telephone call in the short term.

Should the candidate be in business dress?

This is a difficult subject as, dependent upon the type of role the candidate is applying for, business dress may be an expectation. Though most candidates take it as a given that they should be ‘smart’ for interview, they don’t usually go to interviews at their kitchen table.

In the interests of clarity, if this is something which is important to the role for which you are recruiting then it is advisable to make this clear to the interviewee that they should expect to prepare and present themselves as they would at a face to face interview.

The Future

Historically the only positions for which people have been interviewed online were those where at least one party was in another country. Logistically online interviewing could save us all both time and money, but we must keep in mind that it needs to be a level playing field and as recruiters it is up to us to work with candidates to make the process accessible for all.

If we can learn to expect the unexpected and rethink our processes, what we have learned during this testing situation could be used to our long-term benefit.

What our Clients & Candidates say…

” We are a small manufacturing business with low staff turnover, so when we do recruit it is vital that we not only get an individual who is technically capable but also someone who is a good fit to the business. “

” What impressed me about RG Consultancy was the time they took to understand our business and send candidates who covered both these aspects. “

” Whenever we have used RG the process has been quick, efficient and has produced great results for the company. “

” I would highly recommend RG Consultancy to anyone wanting a local business who knows and understands the market and will source high quality candidates that are right for your business. ”

” We are delighted with our recruitee and I would definitely use RG Consultancy again if the need arose ( which I hope it won’t). ”

” …I would just like to add that you and team at RG have been excellent throughout this whole process. Thank you! We would definitely work with your team again. ”

” If I could just say though that you and Eric have been fantastic, and I thank you for that. A completely different experience than I get with literally any other recruiter I have used. Keep doing what you do! ”

” I was looking to find a new challenge and role locally, I approached Eric regarding a role he was advertising and he managed to secure an interview within days. Everything was organised smoothly and efficiently and Eric was fully supportive throughout the whole interview process, giving me sound advice and information at all times. “

” He is highly professional and free of the superficiality that many other recruitment consultants provide. I would not hesitate to recommend him and would certainly use him as a client in the future. “