Virtual Interviews – Here to Stay?

In April 2020 following the onset of the pandemic, a Gartner study of hiring practices found that 86% of those employers who were continuing to hire had shifted to virtual hiring techniques to continue their recruitment activity during lockdown. We supported the majority of our clients to adapt to virtual interview techniques and tools, as well as adopting these to continue our own headcount growth within Purpose HR team.

As restrictions start to ease again, our Managing Director Lisa Thomson was recently asked to chat with Kaye Adams on the BBC Scotland Morning radio show discussing the future of work, and in particular the trend towards increasing use of video and virtual interviews and hiring processes and tips for candidates and employers.

These technologies which have seen such a massive shift in the market and uptake in adoption and use have now become embedded into many employers’ practices – and indeed according to new research by LinkedIn, a business and employment-oriented online service, 84 per cent of talent professionals in the Europe, Middle East and Africa area (EMEA) and 80 per cent of professionals in the UK believe virtual recruitment is here to stay, even after COVID-19.

Here are some insights and top tips for employers on getting the most out of these technologies and tools, to maximise their advantage and improve the candidate experience…

Volume and Speed

In some sectors and roles which have been impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic (especially in entry level and earlier career level roles) we are seeing a huge jump in the volume of direct applicants. Video interviews can be particularly time efficient in terms of scheduling and logistics, to help progress stages quicker and assist with screening. This can be beneficial for candidates as well as employers to schedule interviews at their convenience, cutting down on travel requirements and time off from existing employment or commitments.

Pre -recorded (one way) video interviews where candidates are asked to record their responses to questions can be a particularly useful tool for screening and volume recruitment, as an efficient and helpful way to quickly find out more about candidates, and as a chance for them to sell themselves, particularly as many people are now more comfortable and used to video interactions than this time 18 months ago, as virtual interactions both socially and In the workplace have increased.

Culture and Environment

It is not so easy for candidates to get a feel for an employer’s team, culture and workplace ethos virtually as they might have done  from being able to walk around a physical office, with the chance to informally meet and interact with a wider number of colleagues and faces. Therefore it’s vitally important for employers to think carefully and creatively about ways to try to replicate this experience in a virtual setting.

We are seeing clients focus on being more upfront and open about topics such as their culture, values, and with an increased focus on how they work, operate and interact – not just on skills, responsibilities and what they do.

Another good tip for virtual processes is to widen the scope, perhaps try to build in opportunities for informal networking chats or a virtual coffee with a wider range of the team for preferred candidates. This is as much for them to assess fit as it is for the employer, treating the interviews as very much a two way process.

It’s important that interviewers are supported and receive training on virtual interview techniques – don’t just dive into formal questions, remember to build rapport and try to break the ice. Whilst we may not have the chance to welcome candidates as we walk them through the office, and as we offer a tea or coffee etc, we still want to be welcoming and friendly to put everyone at ease.

Inclusive Practice for Employers

When inviting candidates to a virtual interview it’s important to provide clear instructions and guidance on the technology and expectations, to be inclusive, to check they can access the tools and working properly – please remember not everyone has used these before. Here are some tips for ensuring inclusive practice in virtual interviewing:

  • Check for any adjustments or requirements for example if any hearing impairments etc – make sure the tools and process don’t cause any barriers.
  • Interviewers should ensure they are as prepared as they would be with conducting an in person interview, on time, professional, clear on next steps and in explaining process time lines and anticipated next steps. Even if a candidate isn’t travelling to your office they are still investing time and should be treated respectfully, and given an update and constructive feedback if possible afterwards.
  • Remember that some candidates home working set up may not be optimal – as not everyone has a private quiet separate office and professional looking back drop to the virtual interview. Interviewers should be understanding of potential interruptions such as pets, children or a doorbell as sometimes these situations can’t be helped – and ultimately, we want candidates to feel as welcome and relaxed as possible to get the best experience and opportunity.
  • Be understanding if technical, network or bandwidth difficulties occur as these are frustrating for everyone and may likely be out with candidates’ control – so don’t let that bias the decision or process. Consider rescheduling again if you need to.

So…. are virtual interviews here to stay?

The pandemic has necessitated and accelerated a shift and take up of virtual hiring practices for employers who have continued to recruit and hire throughout this last year. Whilst as restrictions ease and some businesses start to return to a blend of office and remote working, we anticipate virtual recruiting and use of technology such as video interviewing tools to remain a key element of future hiring processes, given the shoft which has taken place and the benefits we are seeing for both candidates and employers as outlined above.

It’s likely we will see virtual recruitment increasing as the norm for many companies in the future, complementing the overall recruitment strategy, potentially as part of a hybrid model.

Purpose HR can provide help and support to businesses who would like any additional advice or support on successful virtual hiring and interviewing, or how to adapt your current process. We can also support businesses to develop and implement culture-led recruitment processes. For more information please contact the Purpose HR team by emailing info@purposehr.co.uk