Of all the business challenges you might have planned for this year, going into lockdown because of a global pandemic was probably pretty low down on the list.
But as the great Churchill once said, “We will never surrender!”
So, we will research from our kitchen tables, take calls from our living rooms and interview wearing pyjamas from the waist down.
We will recruit to the end!
For us this means that video conferencing is now the key to communicating with the rest of the team, with our clients and with our candidates.
And to keep business running, it also means that for the foreseeable future all interviews will need to be done via video call.
Having spoken with a few of our clients, we know that a lot of you will be open to interviewing virtually and are probably fairly used to conducting interviews and meetings this way; particularly if you deal with international candidates or projects.
But for some, it might be a bit of a learning curve.
For those of you exploring this option for the first time, here is our guide to interviewing from a safe and sanitary distance.
The systems available to you
There are hundreds of options when it comes to choosing which software to use. It may take a little bit of trial and error to find the one that works best for your needs.
From our personal experience of testing out various platforms over the years, we can recommend our five favourites:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
All of them, barring Teams, offer a free version (although you can be invited to participate and receive calls from Teams without a Microsoft Office license).
Obviously and as with anything in life, the more you pay the more features and access you will receive, but for basic one on one video calls any of the above are more than suitable.
Before you start interviewing
Before you make a call, we recommend taking the following steps.
1. Make sure you have a decent internet connection.
Each of the options use a different amount of bandwidth, and at the moment getting an engineer out to switch broadband providers isn’t really an option. So, if one isn’t working that well with your connection, then try a different one.
Failing that, using your phone as a hot spot if your signal is better than the broadband in your area.
2. Test out the video and audio in plenty of time before the call.
Learn from our mistakes here, you don’t want to jump into an interview and spend 15 minutes trying to turn on your microphone or camera. All the options allow you to see yourself on camera and test audio before going into the call.
3. Check to see what’s in the background.
Do a quick sense check to see what the person on the other end will be able to see in the call. Try and find a relatively neutral background or tidy up a bit beforehand. You don’t want anything embarrassing or sensitive to be on display behind your shoulder.
If you are a hoarder and can’t find a spare foot of neutral space, then Teams has the option to blur your background out.
4. Make a couple of internal calls first to practice.
Not only will this ensure that all of the above is working fine, it also means you have a chance to get comfortable with the setup. To begin with video conferencing can be a bit awkward and it’s distracting to see yourself, so this gives you an opportunity to get used to it before talking with candidates.
While you are interviewing
If the internet connection isn’t that great, then the sound quality might be a bit distorted or you might experience a slight lag. If this is the case, then it is important to be patient with the candidate and allow enough time for them to finish speaking fully or ask follow up questions to what you have just said.
2. Body language
You obviously don’t get to interpret as much body language as you would do in a normal interview as you can only see them from the shoulders up. Therefore, you need to pay attention to what you can see. Are they sitting up or slouched down? Are they connected with the conversation or distracted by other things around them?
Eye contact is another tricky one as most people won’t sit there looking directly into their camera, they will be looking at you on the screen so do allow for this and it could be a new experience for them as well.
Lots of our clients ask candidates to make a short presentation at different interview stages; video interviewing does not take this option off the table.
Make use of screen sharing to display PowerPoint presentations or other visual aids. You may even find this is simpler than connecting up technology in meeting room!
It’s not all doom and gloom and just trying to get by. There are actually some really great opportunities that we can make the most of while we are working remotely.
One of the main things that slows down our recruitment process is the great calendar conflict between interviewers and candidates. Video conferencing is so much easier to schedule – particularly if candidates are already at home. So in theory we can speed up the process and make things a lot more streamlined.
Furthermore, this is forcing us to get with the 21st century and really take stock of the technology setups we have. I know that we have had to quickly put some systems in place that will undoubtedly benefit the business when we do make it back into the office.
Postponing meetings and interviews until the storm passes just isn’t an option if we all want to come out of this unscathed. Particularly when it comes to interviewing as it sends a very clear message to prospective employees about the culture of your business. However, it is going to be a big jump for a lot of businesses, one that will need to be made quickly.
So if you need any advice on video interviewing, then please do get in touch (via email or phone call and we can work up to video) I will be more than happy to share my experiences with it.
How is lockdown impacting your recruitment plans?