The importance and relevance of using video to connect people together have increased significantly over the last few months. In the case of recruiting, that couldn't be more true. At 8x8, we continue to hire and we're using our Video Meetings product to do it. And, while we've been using this method effectively for some time, I know that many of you may be new to virtual interviewing.

To help you get started, I've compiled a few tips for hiring managers on conducting an effective video interview. These are geared to ensure that the candidate has a good experience and is able to express themselves whilst getting what they need from the interview, too. Much of this may be common sense but a video interview can be approached differently. My advice will ensure that you approach these with the same preparation as you would for in-person interviews.

  1. Plan ahead, read the candidate's CV and prepare questions. This, of course, should be standard practice for in-person interviews but often I hear that people feel unprepared to conduct a video interview. A video interview should have the same thought at planning as an in-person one.
  2. Make a good introduction, explain your role and highlight what you'll be covering in the interview. Small talk can be more difficult over video, as discussing the weather or “did you find us ok” doesn’t quite work, so you'll want to introduce yourself and set the scene for the interview as quickly as possible.
  3. Close your email and turn off or silence your mobile device. –When you're sitting at your computer, rather than across the interview table from someone, there is a much greater risk of becoming distracted. A simple distraction can ruin the flow of a video interview. By closing your email and any other apps where messages pop up, you'll help ensure that your focus is where it should be.
  4. Be mindful of your setting, dress professionally, ensure good light for the video and a sensible background. Remember, when you’re at home conducting a video interview, it’s different than your normal office setting. Be conscious of what's in your background, ensure that you're well lit, and dress as you would if you were going into the office.
  5. Maintain good eye contact and be cautious of your body language. When we're meeting someone in person, we naturally consider our body language. But, when you're in a video meeting, it's easy to be distracted by an email, pets in the background, deliveries, etc. Be intentional about connecting with the person on the other side of the screen by making regular eye contact, as well as maintaining engaged, interested, positive body language.
  6. Assume you'll be taking notes throughout the interview. Let the candidate know this so that when they see you writing or hear you typing, they know why. By telling this to the candidate at the beginning of your video, you're setting clear expectations on any typing or looking away from the screen that they should expect.
  7. Be an active listener. Many of us attend regular multi-person conference calls and it’s easy to not only get distracted but to switch off, daydream a little, or start thinking about something else. It's important to remember you’re not in a multi-person conference call and your complete attention is essential. This will not only ensure that you hear the information being shared but it is also out of respect for the person you’re interviewing. Their attention is on you–this interview is very important to them–listen to them at all times.
  8. Be friendly and generate conversation, don't just ask question after question. Even though being prepared is important, don’t be robotic. As with in-person interviews, the best way to get to know a candidate is through general conversation. Well, the same applies to video interviews. The sooner that you can do this, the easier it is to forget you’re in a video interview and feel like you are actually with that person.

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