From professionals for professionals - 5 tips for a successful online interview

An online job interview was hardly imaginable before the pandemic, but now it is commonplace in recruitment and selection and is often preferred in initial interviews, both on the candidate and company side. Social media is used to advertising secret tips for a successful online presence and corresponding promises of success. Have the dynamics of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok already spread to job interviews? How can recruiters deal with this and distinguish authenticity from self-promotion? In our blog article, you will learn how to conduct a high-quality, virtual interview.

1.    Quality and standards preparation - understanding the world of the candidates

Regardless of whether you are looking for specialists, experts, or top management, you deal with the candidate's documents before the interview - as usual. Nothing changes compared to the classic process, although the preparation for the virtual interview may be a bit more in-depth. It's all about an excellent understanding of the candidate's wealth of experience and where exactly he or she can add value to your company. As HR experts, we have to do this preliminary work in order to identify the competencies through comprehensive questions in the online interview.

2.    Create transparent framework conditions

For applicants, the application situation is similar to an exam situation anyway; in the online interview, the technology and different type of contact are added "on top". Some of us master such situations very well, others less so. The good news is: it's a matter of practice, as the last few months have proven. In the home office, we have already had different experiences with virtual meetings. We all know situations in which the connection was too slow and the conversation was choppy as a result, the microphone or camera suddenly didn't work, or when someone rang the doorbell during the meeting.
By now we are well practiced. Why should we therefore go into more detail about the framework conditions in the online interview? To create an environment in which the applicant presents him/herself as genuinely and authentically as possible. By proactively addressing the "confounding factors" at the outset, you eliminate potential misunderstandings and promote an open, light-hearted exchange. Therefore, address the things that you don't necessarily see in the online setup, but that can affect the dynamics of the conversation. Classics here would be if you work on two screens and therefore have less eye contact, make your notes on the PC during the interview and therefore type on the PC during the interview, or expect background noise that can distract the candidate. Describing the course of the interview in advance also helps with orientation.

3.    100% focus on the candidate

In an online interview, we don't necessarily perceive less, but possibly different aspects than in a face-to-face interview. Just get involved in the conversation and the person, listen to what is said and what is not. As a recruiter, you have to take on a different role in an interview conducted over the Internet parallel to the moderator role, namely that of a mindful observer. You will be amazed how the picture of the candidate rounds off and helps you in the final decision. When conducting the interview online, it is therefore important to pay attention to behaviour, facial expressions/emotions, pronunciation and authenticity.

The question about what motivates the desire to change  also provides a lot of additional information - so never do without it. Be brave here and ask questions. In order to establish a match, you need to know exactly what your candidate is looking for and what he or she would definitely not want to find in your company.

4.    Ask the right questions

In the online interview, recruiters are challenged even more to check the competencies of the candidates. Specialist questions will get you to your goal. Lure the candidates out of the reserve, let them illuminate the formative moments of their professional career. In addition to professional knowledge, aspects such as previous industries, company sizes, organizational structure, and maturity of the process landscape are also very important. In order to be able to ask targeted questions in the virtual interview, you need to know exactly what parallels and what differences there are to the position you are looking for.

5.    Personality & feedback

Asking directly about personality, strengths, weaknesses and the like in the job interview will not get you anywhere in the online interview. What you need here is finesse. You can learn more about applicants from their descriptions of specific situations if you ask bold questions. Ask about the environment he or she needs, about the corporate culture in which he or she can develop, about experiences with managers and team colleagues, about their concrete contribution. Give the applicant the chance to ask his or her own questions; it will be easier for you to assess the person. What is important to him/her, what is asked for in the very first interview?

Afterwards, give the applicant open and transparent feedback. Reflect not only his or her strengths, but also clearly point out those areas where the competencies and experience do not match the profile. This strengthens the bond and trust, which in turn is the basis for any open exchange. In recent months, we have found that the response to this has been very positive. This can also be very valuable for us HR consultants. One or two insights may emerge that would have been lost in the conversation.

Conclusion

Online interviews are a challenge for recruiters, both in terms of preparation and interview management. Although it is easy to make an appointment and thus gain flexibility and speed in the process, virtual interviews are a supreme discipline. If you want to master this task in a high-quality manner, it requires a solid set of methods, continuous training and a healthy dose of self-reflection.

 

MMag. Małgorzata Ostrowska-Reither, Senior Consultant, Innovation Manager
Senior Consultant, Innovation Manager

To understand your customers, you have to listen.