virtual interviews- pocket guide

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

In the last seven years, since moving to England, most of my interviews as a recruiter have been virtual- video or telephone.

In my current position and before, I am covering Europe, sometimes working to recruit in 10- 20 different countries, so the default in most cases was to interview remotely.

Following questions that came up in several professional communities, mostly due to new challenges of working from home, I sat down to write a short basic guide to virtual interviews-

I will start by saying that an interview is an interview - and the same rules apply in virtual interviews as F2F ones. Respect, example-focused questions, listening and remembering this is a dialogue, not a lecture (and we need to allow the candidate also to ask questions), all of those essential interviews 101 rules, also apply here.

The main difference is the adaptation to a different platform, which requires those who are interviewing to be more attentive and focused.

setting up the interview -

The main difference is the tool used. When setting up a virtual interview, it is important to be clear about which tool will be used.

If it is a platform such as Zoom or Skype- provide a link to the tool, and explain how to download the software or app. Always give a backup phone number in case there is a tech problem connecting to the tool. In many apps, there is also an option to connect to the call via phone call- using a local number. Highlight to the candidate that if there is a connection failure, there is an option to call the local number.

Enter all of these details into the interview schedule.

Always provide the hiring manager with the candidate's phone number in the event of connection failure. If you are conducting a telephone interview, be clear about who is calling whom and at what time (it is advisable to send a meeting invitation anyway to set the time for the call).

Interview prep-

Like a regular interview, here, too, we have to make sure that we have the candidate's resume. That we read the CV, and wrote questions, points for review or topics we would like to discuss.

If you are conducting a panel interview and there are more than two interviewers on the line, It is crucial to pre-determine in advance the split of time and work between you -

who opens and explains about the role, who asks questions on what abilities/topics and so on. Set the expectations between the panel interviewers so you won't get into each other words.

Try to schedule the interview for a quiet time during the day when you can talk without interruption.

Put your phone on silent and turn off pop-ups on your computer (emails, slack messages, etc.).

Try to get into the call 3-5 min before the candidate to check that the connection is working properly and that there are no technical issues.


There is a significant difference between a phone call and a video call, so we will always prefer video.

Video creates a more personal and flowing interaction and also allows you to look at body language and facial expressions.

It is important to check that your camera is working properly before the interview and that the background and camera angle is good. As with any regular interview, make sure you are appropriately dressed and that the background behind you will not include laundry piles.

small talk-

Similar to the small talk you will have when welcoming a candidate to the office, and walk together down the hall to the interview room, it is also best to start a virtual interview with small talk. The weather is always a legitimate issue in every country.

Be patient-

many people are not used to video conferencing communication and may find it hard to adjust. They might feel uncomfortable being on camera or talking to their computer. Be patient and don't judge too quickly; there are candidates that will need more time to open up and feel relaxed.

Active listening-

in virtual interviews the candidate is only hearing your voice or see your face/upper body, it's much harder to get the usual body langue feedback that we get when we are in the same room with someone. It will help if you practice active listening by verbally commenting on the conversation. Share your feedback verbally with the candidate by reacting to his examples and answers, if you are not sure, ask him to repeat his explanation or summarize what you understood.

Technical difficulties-

technology is not perfect, and we can experience problems with connection or call quality. be aware that this can happen, allow time to overcome technical issues. If the call was interrupted a few times due to connection problems- practice fairness and offer the candidate to have another call.

From here, the process should be like a regular interview- be sure to introduce yourself, the job and the company. Focus on behavioral questions and ask for examples. Look at the camera and focus your attention on the candidate and not on your emails.

Write your feedback/ observation in a notebook/ feedback form so that you can summarize your feedback later.

At the end of the interview, thank the candidate for their time, explain the process and next steps and give time for candidate questions on the role/ company.

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