Virtual Interviewing – A pandemic fad, or should we expect to see it become part of the “new normal”?

Virtual interviews are not new to us.

Before the lockdown period, they were less common, but as companies have chosen to continue their recruitment throughout the pandemic, in many cases, they have been the only option available to companies looking to continue growing their teams. 

We have been working with local companies to understand their experiences of virtually interviewing through lockdown, to assess whether we can expect virtual interviews to become our “new normal” or whether companies will return to face-to-face interviews as soon as it is possible. 

 

Time and ease

One of the huge positives that companies reported when choosing to conduct virtual interviews was the ease of booking these sessions. In the past, booking interviews meant going back and forward, first internally, and then extending this to the candidate who would, likely, have to arrange leave from their current position. This booking process could be lengthy and mean that interviews would have to be booked some way into the future, to accommodate everyone. 

With virtual interviewing, this is just not the case. Most companies we spoke to reported that this process was far easier and quicker. 

Similarly, Human Resource and Recruitment contacts we spoke to reported that they received feedback from the interview panel more quickly too. Compared to before, when the interview panel would be keen to return to their desks and continue their day-to-day work, our contacts reported that they often got immediate feedback from their interview panel as they were more inclined to stay on at the end of the call and discuss the candidate.

 

Virtual vs Face-to-face

Some of the companies we spoke to reported that they thought virtual interviews were very similar to the face-to-face experience, and with the camera activated, they were able to read the body language of the candidate very well to make a judgement just as they would ordinarily in person. 

Interestingly, companies whose team regularly use video conferencing for external meetings, said that interviewing candidates virtually actually gave them an extra opportunity to assess the candidates ability and understanding of video conference calls. We suspect that, as more companies adapt to include remote working and therefore rely more on web conferences tools to host internal and external meetings, being able to assess a candidate’s understanding of these tools may become a bigger priority and, in turn, cause them to favour virtual interviewing. 

In the cases where remote working would only be a temporary measure, and their role would be expected to work from the office, there was one issue consistently mentioned by companies. The lack of opportunity to visit the office.
Although seemingly minor, companies spoke of the opportunity to visit the office as an important opportunity for the candidate to gain insight and learn about working practices, culture and office environment as well as the opportunity to test the commute. Consequently, companies found that they compensated for this by spending more time discussing social aspects of the company, usual working habits and asking about the candidate’s travel arrangements.

 

Tools

Although there are a whole host of dedicated online interview tools available, we found that in the vast number of cases, companies chose to utilise more common tools such as:

  • Microsoft Teams 
  • ZOOM
  • Skype

Only really in the cases where technical tests were required did we see more specialised tools being consistently used. 

 

The future of virtual interviewing 

Overall, feedback from those who have chosen to conduct virtual interviews during the lockdown period was positive.
Every company surveyed said they plan to continue using virtual interview methods in their recruitment plans, however 50% said that when it’s possible, they would like to reintroduce some face-to-face elements to the latter stages of the interview process.

 

If you would like to discuss your own experiences of virtual interviewing or techniques in more detail, please contact us. 


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