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Interviewing During Coronavirus Pandemic: How to Succeed Virtually

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COVID-19 cases are still on the rise. Even with the emergence of vaccines, the damage is already done to our personal and professional lives. The business world had very little time to adapt. This is especially true for the HR department. Imagine, HR is meant to have direct communication with existing and potential employees every day. The COVID situation has not made their job any less difficult. This is also another field that had to come up with ways to adapt to the new marketplace. Gone are the days of face-to-face interviews. No longer is it safe to shake hands or even breathe the same air with so many different people. This is where technology comes to the rescue. Also, new methods have been implemented to minimize exposure. In this article, we will go over the best methods to conduct social distancing while still performing adequately.

No matter the industry or niche you find yourself in, you will need to interview candidates. Some will go to the next step, while others will be let go. Now, each company decides for itself on the safest course of action. The most essential industries cannot be shut down. Healthcare and food industries are the first to come to mind. Other industries are reopening in stages. And most of those are still figuring out the best way to do just that. One thing we can agree on is that having face to face interviews is a no-go. This is why most organizations use various online tools that are readily available to all. Remember, your interviewees also need to have access to the same tools to establish a line of communication.

These tools include, but are not limited to WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, WebEx, Teams, etc. With these, interviews can run smoothly, effectively, and most importantly, safely. So, how do we make the most of those? If it is possible or practical, make sure that you have at least two people on the interview side. More specifically, have someone that is already working in the role you are interviewing for. Such an experienced and well-versed individual will know what additional questions to ask. As always, all questions are geared towards assessing the person’s suitability for the role. The interviewee needs to deliver certain competencies that they can conduct the tasks needed in an efficient manner. Make sure to have prepared the questions beforehand. Sure, a degree of improvisation is always welcome. But, a structured, well-thought-out questionnaire is the backbone of any interview, conventional or online.

Make sure that you can assess the applicant using an as wide range of methods as possible. It is your job to appraise their attitudes and values. Now, depending on your industry and niche, this may differ from company to company. Some businesses hold greater value over certain traits than others. It is always a good idea to include values-based questions. These you can incorporate at any part of the interview. For maximum effect, you can try and slide certain questions unnoticed. This way, you can avoid the applicant coming up with an already prepared answer. The chances of getting a genuine, non-prefabricated answer will be greater.

Now, there is the other side of the coin. Sure, it is important to prepare yourself for the interview. But you will also be in charge of preparing the candidate as well. They need to have the required equipment for the task. Remember, they need to use the same software as you. Make it clear what you are trying to accomplish with these virtual meetings. Not only that, but divide your expectations out of each stage of the interview process. Send an informative “How To” email to candidates. This will give them ample time and information to prepare for the interview. This email should include instructions on how to access the platform used by all parties involved. Have them try this out with a friend beforehand. This kind of software is generally easy to use, but best to make sure.

In some states, companies are required to disclose that an interview is being recorded. Make sure to do so either way, for transparency’s sake. Take into consideration the most appropriate setting for conducting interviews. After all, you are representing your company. This should be done to the best of your abilities. Make sure that your background is as professional as possible, for example. Have the candidates send you any necessary documentation beforehand. This mostly relates to identity documentation. Their identity needs to be determined. On their end, they should also be in a quiet space where there are no distractions. You need to be able to hear them correctly. It is a good idea to include this in the instruction email as well. Both parties are better off testing their IT infrastructure beforehand. How many times did it happen that everything worked, only to malfunction at the very last second?

For a successful online interview, several components need to work in unison. Both parties need to have their Internet on point. Microphones need to be set up right and at appropriate levels. If it is a video interview (which we are covering in this article) cameras need to be properly set. Lastly, if all parties can use headphones instead of speaker, that would be for the best. This way, we can avoid any background noise and echoes. Preferably, closed-back headphones. These tend to drown out any sound seeping from the tiny speakers. Since most mics are right next to the speakers, this can go a long way.

It is unfortunate that people cannot meet face to face for such important steps in their lives. But, companies and individuals alike have adapted to the new market. The technology was already there. It just experienced a rapid expansion due to the increased demand. Employers are the ones really pushing these changes as the means to mitigate the damage caused by the shifting market. With these guidelines, you and your candidates can make the most out of a virtual meeting.

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