How to Conduct a Remote Interview on Video Chat

Written by Chris Byers on October 3, 2014

Posted in Human Resources

According to one survey, about 31 percent of hiring managers conducted some part of the interview process by video. Here at Formstack, we do a couple of phone screens to narrow down the pool. When we are in our final round, we often fly candidates to our Indianapolis office. Recently, we have started interviewing via video chat. It has its upsides and downsides. Here are some suggestions how to get the best view of a candidate to make a hire when you are interviewing online.

Do Phone Screens First
Just like you would do phone interviews before an in-person interview, continue to use them with video interviews. Candidates can communicate a significant amount of information in a phone interview. Phone conversations are less glitchy and they save time. They also tend to be easier to schedule. Once you have narrowed down candidates to the final stage, you’re ready to invest more time into the conversation.

Confirm Your Times
When coordinating with a candidate in another time zone, be sure to communicate times clearly. If you are in Illinois and your candidate is in Oregon, you could say, “Let’s schedule your interview for Wednesday at 10am CST/8am PST.” That way, there’s no confusion or back-and-forth about whose time zone you mean.

Tools like the World Clock Meeting Planner are a way to make sure your time zones are correct. You can find meeting times that aren’t insane—especially when you are scheduling multiple people in international time zones.

Have a Plan B
Conduct a test interview with a colleague if you’re new to video chat. Your software might require plugins or updates, and you don’t want to be late because you didn’t prepare. Ask for feedback on your camera positioning and background, while you’re at it.

Video chat technology is not always reliable. Ask your interviewees to prepare their computer for the interview, too. Confirm a phone number for your interviewee in case of technical difficulties. If you have issues, you might need to reschedule.

Prepare thoroughly
For any interview, preparation is necessary on both sides. Have questions ready but also be prepared to probe deeper into your candidates’ responses. Feel free to take notes as you talk, just as you would in an in-person interview. Ask how candidates deal with certain situations or how they have developed a team.

You may have a portion of your interview process that doesn’t translate to video chat. We have a secret test that requires our interviewee to construct something out of household items. Our office sends a package to the interviewee’s home so we can still have that part of the interview take place. (Even if they open it ahead of time, they won’t know what we’ll ask them to do with it.)

Be friendly/socialize
At Formstack, we are committed to hiring fun, likeable people. Take the time to exchange some pleasantries and actually get to know the people you interview. It’s tempting to jump right in to your business-related questions, but this is someone you might work with for years.

If you’re not used to hiring for culture fit, this can be a challenge. At our final interviews, we include a culture team that asks questions unrelated to the job itself. We want to be sure that new hires will fit in and enjoy the team. Some leaders might think that personality-related questions might be irrelevant. Getting the right people on a team increases productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty.

Hiring is incredibly important and should not be rushed. Whether in-person or over video chat, take care to get to know your candidates and be sure they are a good fit for your team.