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12 Tips For Conducting Video Interviews With Students And Grads

With the development of technology, video interviews are becoming the go-to method for a lot of recruiters. Although most students and new grads are familiar with webcams and computers, engaging in a professional on-screen meeting can still feel like unfamiliar territory.

Even the most experiences interviewee can experience nerves during their first online interview. So how do you help them perform at their best? Consider these 12 tips:

Setting up the interview

1. Establish the tone – Students and grads will sometimes get the impression that online interactions are casual. It’s important to make it clear that this video interview is just as important as a face-to-face meeting. Simply mentioning to your candidate that they should treat this interview as a face to face engagement should suffice.

2. Plan for technical issues – Every type of engagement comes with their possible setbacks. For video interviews, weak internet signals and computer malfunctions can be enough to derail the meeting. Be sure to establish an alternate phone number your candidate can reach you at, and ensure that they have a phone nearby in case you need to reach them.

3. Give them some tips – When scheduling your engagement, it helps to casually ask if your candidate has done a video interview before. If this if your candidate’s first time, encourage them to do some research online. This will help them feel more prepared on the day of the interview, and help them perform better.

Tip: TalentEgg has a great introduction to video interviews for students and grads. Check it out here.

4. Remember the time difference – Often, video interviews are used to interview candidates that live a distance away. If they’re in another time zone, make sure you’re clear when scheduling the date and time. For example: “So we’ll meet this upcoming Monday at 10am Toronto time. That will be 11am Halifax time for you.” This will help clear any confusion.

Right before the interview

5. Test your technology – Have a co-worker do a test video call with you. Ensure the connection is strong, and they can see and hear you well (it’s best to use a headset for engagements like these). Doing this beforehand can minimize the risk of something going wrong during the interview.

6. Check your lighting – While you don’t need professional lighting, it’s best to have a flattering light when chatting with your candidate. Try facing a window for a soft, natural light (not harsh sunlight!). Alternatively, set yourself up in a well-lit room. The last thing you want is a candidate squinting and struggling to see you, ultimately creating a distracting performance.

7. Send a message – If you are using a program like Skype, use the chat feature to send your candidate a message ten minutes before the interview. Otherwise, send them a quick email. Let them know that you’re preparing for the interview, and you will call them at the agreed time. This will take some pressure off of them, so they don’t have to worry whether or not you’re online and ready to go.

8. Minimize distractions – If you had a candidate come into your office for an interview, would you permit noisy co-workers in the room with you? Likely, your answer is no – as it should be! Be sure that you have a quiet room to work in, and if necessary, leave a note to let your colleagues know you’re in an interview.

Tip: Most companies will provide a branded backdrop for conducting interviews. If you don’t have one of these, try to have a wall as your background. Try not to have co-workers walking back and forth – it can be very distracting for a candidate.

During the interview

9. Engage in small talk – In a face to face interview, there is usually that period of “down time” before and after the interview where you are able to casually chat with the candidate. Don’t leave that out – take a few minutes to ease them into the conversation before diving into your questions.

Tip: Depending on the software your company uses, you can tailor any of these tips to the features that the program offers (pre-recorded videos, scheduling features, etc.). Get creative – but make sure that that in the end, there is a personal, “human” quality of interaction.

10. Validate their apprehensions – Talking to a camera can feel weird to a lot of students and grads. If they seem out of their element, casually let them know they’re not alone. A comment as simple as “it can feel a bit strange, I know.” or “I remember my first video interview. You get used to it.” can be enough to help them feel at ease.

11. Be aware of the delay – Connection delay may just be the most annoying part of a video interview. Candidates may experience heightened nerves if their technology shorts out – often they’ll feel like it may cost them the interview. Let them know that you’re experiencing a poor connection on your end as well, and assure them that it happens from time to time.

12. Don’t forget to interact – Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re talking to a person, and not a screen. Be sure to give the candidate feedback: nod and give verbal responses when appropriate. There’s always the worry that your conversation partner can’t hear you, so having constant responses throughout the interview can help set your candidate’s mind at ease.

Discussion: Which type of interview do you find students and grads perform best in… video or in-person?

4 Reasons Why Campus Recruiters Should Ditch Their Pre-Written Questions

It’s important to be prepared. But there is such a thing as being overly prepared.

Don’t get us wrong – by all means, plan the campus or on-site venue to a tee, do your research on a candidate, and ensure you have all the proper documentation ready. But the one thing you don’t want to overplan are the questions you’ll ask a candidate.

Newer recruiters are the most prone to this. After all, the number one thing everyone thinks of when it comes to interviews are the questions. But overplanning the questions in advance can risk you not getting all the information you need out of your candidate – and more importantly, it may interfere with your efforts to connect with them.

If you’re still not convinced, we have a whole list of reasons why you should ditch the notes and add some improvisation to your interviews.

It’s not a Q&A. It’s a conversation.

The truth is, interviews today are changing – students are no longer tasked with coming up with the “right” answers, but rather, presenting themselves as a worthy candidate by creating a memorable experience. However, even the best young professionals can only do so much when their conversation partner’s mind is stuck in their rigid schedule of “which question to ask next”.

Conversations change direction, and so should you.

It’s important for interviewers to be flexible in what they’re going to ask next. After all, candidates can be unpredictable in their answers, and you need to be able to come up with a probing question to have them expand, or even redirect the conversation if the candidate goes off track. Focusing on a certain set of questions limits your “flexibility” in this sense.

The phrasing of a question matters.

There is a huge difference between asking “Why are you interested in this role?” and “Why are you interested in this career?” Both similar questions, but each will likely yield a different answer from your interviewee. This can be especially problematic for recruiters who are hiring a high volume of candidates, and have a standard set of questions they can rattle off the top of their head – you need to ask your questions the right way in order to get the type of information you’re looking for.

You need to validate their presence.

For an interviewee, there’s nothing worse than feeling like they’re just another disposable candidate. Even if you are hiring at a high volume, it’s important that each interaction is tailored personally to that individual – again, if you are asking “one-size-fits-all” questions, that’s not going to cut it for them.

How to conduct your interview questions (without pre-writing questions).

If you’re convinced, and ready to make the switch, we have some great tips for you:

Create a “road-map”.

A road map will dictate the points you want to hit. You may want to travel from Toronto to Ottawa, and you’ll know what cities you have to drive through. But you probably won’t make plans to stop at a specific gas station in a specific city at a specific time.

Use this analogy when planning your interviews. Know what topics you want to hit and what information you want to draw out of them. But you don’t need to plan the wording and the phrasing of each point. For example, if you know from their resume they have experience in customer service, and you want to know if they have experience hitting sales targets, make a note of it.

Keep a checklist, and review it at the end.

After you create your “roadmap” and you create a list of items you want to cover, create a simple checklist to bring with you to the interview.

During the interview itself, don’t check off anything. Let the conversation take its course, and do your best to steer that conversation to naturally hit as many points off your list as you can. At the end of the interview, take a moment and review your list while your candidate is still there. If you have missed anything, ask them those remaining questions then.

Listen to what they’re saying, and use it in your next question.

If a candidate gives you an answer, and you want to hear more, don’t feel pressured to come up with elaborate phrasing. Think of yourself as a “prompt” more than someone who comes up with impressive questions.

Try using simple phrases like “tell me a bit more about that,” or “Earlier, you mentioned X. Could you elaborate?” This will keep the focus on the candidate, and take the pressure off you so you don’t have to come up with a bunch of information-loaded questions.

Discussion: Do you prefer to conduct “freestyle” interviews or pre-planned interviews?

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