From home to hired: Perfecting your approach to virtual interview

Learn how to conduct effective virtual interviews and be the NEXT master of virtual boardrooms.

Every recession teaches us something. That also holds for The Great Resignation as it reshapes how businesses identify, assess and hire top talents.

Job seekers no longer settle for bigger paychecks alone; they crave flexibility, well-being, and a culture that aligns with their values and aspirations. 

Fortunately, virtual interviews meet all these bases, enabling employers and candidates to assess fulfillment and engagement, even when physically apart.

It helps recruiters- 

  • expand talent pool by breaking down geographical barriers
  • save time and resources by eliminating the need for travel and logistics
  • offer scheduling flexibility
  • reduce the need for extensive coordination and administrative tasks
  • improve the candidate experience by allowing them to showcase their potential from their comfort zones
  • facilitate seamless collaboration for better decision-making.

But this is only possible with proper preparations and an efficient process in place.

And that’s what we will learn next! 

So, let’s get started right away. 

Conducting a successful tier-based virtual interview

remote interviews

You must already know and have experience conducting interviews, so let’s not go into the basics. 

After all, virtual and in-office interviews are mostly the same, except for some minor differences like:

1. Physical presence

In an in-office interview, candidates are physically present, allowing for direct observation of body language, demeanor, and overall presence. 

Virtual interviews lack this physical proximity, making it challenging to assess non-verbal cues and overall professional presence.

To bridge this gap, you can:

  • Encourage using high-quality video conferencing tools to ensure clear visibility and communication during remote interviews.
  • Incorporate augmented reality (AR) or holographic technology to create a virtual representation of the candidate in the physical space, allowing for a more immersive interview experience.
  • Explore using haptic feedback devices that provide tactile sensations during remote interviews. These devices can simulate handshakes or physical interactions, giving candidates a more tangible and realistic experience despite being in separate locations.

2. Personal connection

In-person interactions often facilitate the development of personal connections and rapport between the interviewer and the candidate. 

However, remote interviews may struggle to establish the same level of connection due to technological limitations and the lack of in-person interaction.

To foster a healthy connection with your remote candidate, you can:

  • Implement effective communication techniques, such as active listening, open-ended questions, and genuine engagement, to establish a personal connection in a remote setting.
  • Use collaboration tools with built-in features for non-verbal communication, such as emojis, thumbs-up reactions, or virtual hand raising, to facilitate interaction and create a more engaging atmosphere.
  • Send curated care packages to candidates before the interview, containing items that reflect the company culture or create a specific atmosphere. Candidates can interact with these items during the interview, fostering a shared experience.
  • Implement breakout room sessions during remote interviews, where candidates can have one-on-one conversations with different team members. 
  • Begin the remote interview with video-based icebreaker activities that promote personal connections, like sharing interesting personal stories, participating in virtual team-building games, or discussing favorite books or movies. These activities help break the ice and create a more personal and engaging atmosphere.
  • Incorporate gamified personality assessments that allow candidates to showcase their personality traits, values, and work preferences in a fun and interactive way. These assessments can give you deeper insights into the candidate’s character and help establish a more personalized connection.

3. Tangible experience

In an in-office interview, candidates can physically experience the workspace, facilities, and equipment, influencing their perception of the company’s work environment and culture. Remote interviews may not provide the same tangible experience.

How can you overcome this issue? Here are some ways:

  • Use VR headsets or 360-degree video platforms to create an immersive experience where the candidate can virtually “walk through” the office, interact with 3D representations of team members, and engage in simulated work scenarios. 
  • Create virtual swag bags or digital gift packages that can be sent to candidates before or after the interview. These packages can include e-books, online courses, or subscriptions to relevant tools or resources that give candidates a tangible experience related to the role or industry.
  • Request candidates to demonstrate their skills or expertise remotely by completing a task or project during the interview. This could involve sharing their screen and walking interviewers through their process or presenting a pre-recorded video demonstration of their work.
  • Provide candidates with the opportunity to remotely customize their virtual workspace using collaborative whiteboard tools or virtual office platforms. It will allow them to visually represent their work processes, organize ideas, and showcase their organizational skills.
  • Employ virtual team collaboration platforms that facilitate team introductions, online chat, and video conferencing functionalities to give candidates a glimpse into team interactions and dynamics.

With these concerns already taken into account, you can now prepare and conduct a successful virtual interview. 

But wait, there is one more thing you must know before starting. 

I.e., how your interviewing approach will differ based on two major tiers-

  • Executive/managerial positions
  • Administrative positions

Of course, every company has a complex hierarchy, and it’s impossible to cover all. 

But, the above positions are basics and will help you create a strategic approach to remote interviews.

So, let’s address both one by one.

A. Executive/managerial positions

C-suite positions require much more in-depth and multiple evaluations before hiring any candidate. And this goes during vitual interviews as well. 

Here are some ways you can evaluate C-suite candidates despite virtual settings: 

1. Virtual case study 

Provide the candidate with a real-life business scenario or problem relevant to the executive role. 

Ask them to analyze the situation, propose a strategic solution, and present their recommendations in a virtual case study format. 

It will allow you to assess their critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and ability to apply their expertise in real-world scenarios.

2. Simulated leadership exercise

Create a virtual simulation, allowing candidates to assume the role of a leader facing various challenges. 

It may involve managing a crisis, leading a virtual team through a complex project, or making difficult decisions under time pressure. 

Evaluate their decision-making, communication, and leadership skills in a simulated environment.

3. Virtual team collaboration exercise

Organize a collaborative exercise where the candidate works with a team of employees or other executives in a virtual environment. 

Assign them a strategic task or project that requires teamwork, coordination, and effective communication. 

Assess their ability to collaborate remotely, delegate tasks, and drive the team toward achieving common goals.

4. Digital portfolio review

Request candidates to prepare and present a digital portfolio that showcases their accomplishments, projects, and leadership initiatives via documents, presentations, videos, or other multimedia elements. 

Evaluate their ability to organize and present information, along with the quality and impact of their work.

5. Thought leadership discussion

Engage the candidate in a deep conversation about their perspective on industry trends, emerging technologies, or thought-provoking topics relevant to the executive position. 

It will allow you to evaluate their ability to articulate informed opinions, think critically, and demonstrate their expertise and vision in a specific area.

6. Innovative presentation format

Instead of a traditional interview presentation, encourage candidates to present their ideas or proposals in an innovative and creative format. 

It may include a pre-recorded video, a visually engaging slide deck, or any other interactive digital format. 

Using this approach, evaluate their ability to communicate ideas effectively and captivate the audience using non-traditional methods.

7. 360-degree virtual assessment

Incorporate feedback from diverse stakeholders, including peers, subordinates, board members, or senior executives. 

Collect their input through confidential surveys or interviews to comprehensively understand the candidate’s leadership style and impact.

Remember to align these methods with the specific requirements of the executive position and adapt them to your company’s needs and culture.

B. Administrative positions

When conducting remote interviews for administrative positions, you can employ these methods to assess candidates effectively:

1. Virtual task simulation 

Provide candidates with a virtual task that simulates typical administrative responsibilities, such as scheduling appointments, managing emails, or organizing a virtual event. 

Observe their efficiency, attention to detail, and ability to handle multiple tasks remotely.

2. Remote office setup evaluation

Request candidates to provide a virtual tour of their remote office setup. Assess their organization, professionalism, and ability to create an efficient and productive workspace at home.

3. Digital problem-solving challenge

Present candidates with a challenge that reflects their thought process during common administrative or workflow issues and ask them to devise innovative solutions using digital tools, workflow management software, or virtual collaboration platforms.

4. Virtual calendar management

Have candidates demonstrate their calendar management skills by providing a sample schedule and asking them to optimize it, considering priorities, time zones, and conflicting appointments. 

Assess their ability to manage calendars remotely and handle scheduling complexities.

5. Digital customer service simulation

Conduct a role-play scenario where candidates must respond to virtual customer inquiries or complaints. 

Evaluate their communication skills, empathy, and ability to handle challenging situations with professionalism and problem-solving.

6. Virtual efficiency exercise

Ask candidates to design and present a virtual workflow or process improvement plan for a specific administrative task. 

It will help you evaluate their ability to streamline processes, optimize efficiency, and leverage technology to enhance productivity.

7. Remote communication assessment

Assess candidates’ written and verbal communication skills in a remote work context. 

Request them to prepare a professional email response or deliver a concise virtual presentation on a relevant administrative topic.

8. Remote team collaboration task

Assign candidates a virtual teamwork exercise where they have to collaborate with other candidates to complete a project or solve a problem remotely. 

Observe their teamwork abilities, virtual communication, and coordination skills.

9. Technology proficiency assessment

Utilize remote assessment tools or online platforms to evaluate candidates’ proficiency in essential administrative software and tools. 

This can include tests or practical exercises on virtual collaboration tools, document management systems, or cloud-based applications.

10. Remote adaptability and resilience interview

Engage candidates in a conversation about their experience working remotely, handling challenges, and adapting to changing work environments. 

Assess their adaptability, problem-solving, and resilience in navigating virtual work scenarios.

And there you go! You have the key to a successful tier-based remote interview. The next step is to ensure fairness and privacy throughout.

Ensuring fairness and privacy during virtual interviews

Ensuring fairness and data privacy during virtual interviews is paramount to maintaining trust and upholding ethical standards. 

But most recruiters struggle to do so. 

But worry not! By following the below-mentioned guidelines, you can create a transparent and secure remote experience for candidates while mitigating biases and protecting sensitive information.

Step 1: Establish clear evaluation criteria 

Clearly define the skills, qualifications, and attributes required for the position. 

It will ensure all candidates are evaluated based on the same standards, minimizing subjective biases.

Some best examples of remote-based evaluation models are:

  1. Competency-based framework 
  2. Role play scenarios
  3. Gamified skill tests
  4. Values and culture-fit assessment
  5. Future-focused evaluation
  6. Video-based self-assessment
  7. Simulation-based assessments

Step 2: Standardize the interview process 

Creating a standardized remote interview process involves several key steps, which are:

  1. Defining core competencies for the specific role
  2. Develop a question bank to assess every candidate regardless of position, gender, or other differences.
  3. Use a scorecard or evaluation rubric to rate candidates consistently and objectively based on predetermined standards.
  4. Ensure the interviewers understand the purpose of a standardized interview kit and how to objectively assess and rate candidate responses.
  5. Conducting mock interviews can help ensure consistency in asking questions, evaluating responses, and applying the evaluation rubric. 
  6. Establish a clear structure for the interview, including the order of questions, time allocation for each question, and any follow-up prompts or probes.
  7. Encourage interviewers to document detailed and objective notes during the interview.
  8. Periodically review and update the standardized remote interview process to incorporate feedback, best practices, and evolving requirements.

These steps can help you create a structured interview process that minimizes bias, promotes consistency, and enables objective evaluation of candidates.

Step 3: Mitigate bias and unconscious stereotypes 

Guard against biases and unconscious stereotypes that can inadvertently influence the interview process. 

Train interviewers to recognize and mitigate bias, emphasizing the importance of objective evaluation. 

Use blind screening techniques, such as removing identifying information (name, gender, etc.) from resumes and applications to promote fairness and minimize unconscious biases.

Step 4: Utilize behavioral-based questions 

These questions focus on specific situations and ask candidates to describe how they handled them. 

By focusing on behavior and actions rather than assumptions or hypothetical scenarios, you can gather valuable insights into a candidate’s abilities and decision-making skills.

Here are some examples:

  1. Can you share your experience facing a major crisis or challenge in your previous role? What did you do to solve it?
  2. Suppose you have to make an important decision but have limited resources to analyze the situation properly. What factors will you consider in your decision-making process?
  3. Discuss when you had to implement a significant change or innovation in your previous role. How did you manage resistance and gain buy-in from stakeholders to successfully drive the change?
  4. Share an experience where you had to resolve a conflict within a team or between team members. What strategies did you employ to foster a positive resolution?
  5. Did you ever negotiate a complex business deal or partnership? How did you prepare for the negotiation, and what strategies did you employ to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome?
  6. Have you ever led a virtual team or managed remote employees? How did you overcome the challenges of virtual collaboration and ensure the team’s productivity and engagement?

Remember to listen carefully to the candidates’ responses, probe for details, and evaluate how their past behaviors align with the requirements of the position you are hiring for.

Step 5: Maintain data privacy 

Establishing specific protocols for yourself and your team to protect candidate information is 10X crucial during virtual interviewing. 

Here is what you can do:

  1. Secure communication channels: Use reputable and secure video conferencing platforms that offer end-to-end encryption to safeguard interview discussions from unauthorized access.
  2. Consent for recording: Obtain informed consent from candidates before recording interview sessions. Communicate how the recorded data will be used and stored, ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.
  3. Secure storage and access: Store interview recordings and candidate information in secure, password-protected systems. Limit access to authorized personnel only and regularly update security measures to protect against data breaches.

Step 6: Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) 

Enhance data privacy by implementing two-factor authentication for all interview-related systems and platforms. 

This additional layer of security will ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive candidate data and interview recordings.

Step 7: Leverage automated interviewing tools 

Consider using automated interviewing tools that allow candidates to record their responses to predetermined questions. 

These tools provide an unbiased and consistent evaluation process by presenting the same questions to all candidates. 

They also offer the advantage of asynchronous interviews, allowing candidates to complete the test at their convenience while maintaining fairness in the evaluation process.

By following these steps and leveraging appropriate tools, you can conduct virtual interviews with transparency, equity, and respect for candidate privacy.

Tip: Stay informed of the latest developments in data privacy laws and ensure your policies align with these regulations.

Rethinking the future of virtual interviews

Picture this: It’s the year 2050, where video calls and screens are the old schools.

Instead, you find yourself entering a high-tech virtual boardroom. (Virtual interview spaces are already mind-boggling. Just imagine how it would be in 2050. Something extraordinary!)

With a few taps and gestures, holographic avatars of candidates materialize before you, equipped with an impressive array of data and insights. 

Advanced AI algorithms analyze everything from facial expressions to subconscious cues, providing you with unparalleled insights into a candidate’s potential. 

Language barriers are a thing of the past as real-time translation software effortlessly facilitates communication with candidates worldwide. 

Augmented reality overlays offer instant access to metrics, candidate profiles, and assessment tools, empowering you to make informed decisions. 

But amidst this digital transformation, you remain mindful of ethical considerations, ensuring fairness, privacy, and human connection remain paramount. 

That’s what you crave, right? Everything is at your fingertip, yet fair. 

Technology yet humanization!

Guess we might achieve that by 2050. 

We hope to achieve that by 2050 🙂

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