Interviewing New Hires — Virtually
Interviewing potential new hires virtually is the new normal, and may remain part of the process even after the pandemic passes. The problem is it goes against everything we expect the process to be. Yes, making it feel positive, personal and welcoming is challenging, but there are some best practices that make it easier.
Virtual interviews don't come naturally, especially at first. Being prepared for the interview helps. In addition to the usual preparations such as checking the candidate's resume and having questions ready for him or her, there are other considerations. For example, you should make sure the interview space is available at the time you need it. Another possible difference is the need to pay attention to time zones when you schedule the meeting time.
However, you shouldn't change your hiring process simply because it's virtual. If you usually have a series of four interviews, continue that. If you have two, continue that. It's the platform that's changed, not the process.
Another important aspect of virtual interviews is preparing the prospective new hire. Make sure he or she understands your hiring process and how long it will take. Let your candidate know who and how many people will be on each call so he or she can adequately research the upcoming contacts. It's a good idea to send an email outlining the process. Clarify which platform you'll be using well in advance, so the candidate can be up to speed on it.
Make sure all interviewers are trained in the company's messaging so they can deliver a clear picture of the company culture. Telework is no excuse to let standards down. For example, if the company has a dress code, everyone who talks to the candidate should be following it.
Each interviewer should also be acquainted with the candidate. In other words, each interviewer should have seen the candidate's resume as well as any pertinent remarks by other reviewers. The point of the latter is to allow interviewers to drill down in areas where others have questions or concerns.
At the start of the interview, it's a best practice to ask a few "getting to know you" questions before you begin the actual job interview. The purpose of those questions is to develop a foundation of trust and respect. Establishing a connection is difficult in a remote situation, so give the candidate some time to become relaxed with the interviewers before getting down to the nitty-gritty.
If multiple managers are interviewing the candidate, create an interview order. It's harder to follow multiple speakers in a Zoom setting than in person, and you don't what to confuse or overwhelm your candidate.
The trust and respect you build during the interview carries over to the results. If you decide not to hire a prospect, recognize the time he or she spent with you by either sending a formal rejection letter or calling the candidate in person to let him or her know your decision. If he or she asks why another candidate was chosen over them, give an honest response.
One rule about interviewing is inviolate: Whether the interview is in person or virtual, interview questions may not violate EEOC guidelines. This means you can't discriminate against protected classes: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability and genetic information.