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Conducting effective online interviews – tips for employers

Posted: 14 May 2020

Conducting effective online interviews – tips for employers

As more employers conduct interviews online due to Covid-19 social distancing requirements, attention to detail is vital, says Eolas Recruitment.

Social distancing due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is forcing more employers to conduct interviews online. Demand for skilled IT workers in areas like data, web, user experience and project management is strong, with employers looking to specialist recruiters like Eolas Recruitment to help them fill key roles.

Asked how Covid-19 has affected Eolas Recruitment’s business, Managing Director Vincent Flynn says the current lockdown is disrupting work practices and employers are having to be more flexible in how they manage their hiring process.

“More companies have been reaching out to us for assistance over the last few weeks because they are finding it difficult to source candidates due to the disruption that Covid-19 is causing. Some companies are finding that the number of applications for advertised IT roles is down with candidates reluctant to change jobs due to the current uncertainty. That’s where Eolas Recruitment can help. As a specialist in the IT sector for more than 20 years, we have a great network of contacts so we can often introduce employers to highly qualified, skilled candidates who may not be actively job hunting. We can also screen applicants, assist with interviews, and provide support throughout the recruitment process — all of which are valuable services for clients during the current crisis.”

Another trend Vincent has noticed in the last few weeks it that work practices are changing. He says technology has come to the fore more than ever before due to people working from home.

“Many of our clients have started interviewing on Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, WebEx and GotoMeeting for the first time. Clients are also taking advantage of technology in other ways such as allowing candidates to share documents in real time. What’s crucial is that companies understand how to use the technology effectively to create a good professional impression and to get the best from candidates.”

So, what tips does Eolas Recruitment have when it comes to conducting effective online interviews?

The three main areas a company should focus on when preparing to conduct an online interview are:

  1. Environment (where you will be when the interview takes place)
  2. Strategy (candidate research and the questions you will ask during the online interview)
  3. Communication (ensuring that the candidate and interview panel receive all necessary information in advance of the online interview)

The Interview Environment

It might sound obvious, but it’s essential to familiarise yourself with the technology that you intend to use and ensure that it is working correctly. Everyone who will be on the interview panel needs to do this. Check that you have a good Internet connection in the room where you will be during the interview. If you are using mobile technology, ensure that you have a strong signal.

Where possible, it is better to use your laptop or a full screen rather than a mobile for the interview as this will give you a better view of the candidate’s reactions. Remember the candidate will also see you, so make sure that you dress appropriately. It can be a good idea to put a lamp behind your laptop to improve lighting. It’s also advisable to raise your laptop to a suitable height by placing it on books or some other type of support. Aim to have the camera at eye level and maintain eye contact with the camera during the interview.

Many people are working from home at the moment so it is important to make sure that you are not interrupted during the interview. Likewise, you should turn off your phone to avoid incoming calls or notifications.

Plan your strategy

A well-drawn up job specification is often the key to successful recruitment. Examine the spec for the role in question and plan your questions so as to draw out the candidate’s relevant experience and skills, using competency-based interviewing techniques where appropriate. Remember to include the same basic questions that you would ask in any other interview, such as

  • What does the candidate know about your business?
  • What do they know about the industry?
  • Why do they want the job?
  • How did they prepare for the interview?

As with any interview, it is vital to read the candidate’s CV in advance and take note of any additional information that may be provided by Eolas Recruitment’s screening team. This might include details of the candidate’s salary expectations, availability, notice period, etc.

During the interview, focus on listening to the candidate’s responses. Be aware that if you allow yourself to be distracted, the candidate will be able to see this online just as you will be able to see if a candidate appears not to be listening to your questions.

Finally, remember to prepare for the questions a candidate may ask you. In the current climate, this could include being asked how your company is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Communicate in advance

As well as preparing yourself, it is important to ensure that any of your team members who will be joining the interview are properly prepared. This will include advising them of the time and date of the interview and providing copies of all relevant documentation. Likewise, you need to inform the candidate that the interview will be conducted online, ensuring that they are aware of the time and date, the format of the interview and the technology that will be used. Candidates should be given all the relevant information about the role they are applying for well in advance of the interview.

Don’t forget the basics

If you are new to online interviewing, keep in mind that you still need to do all the usual pre-employment checks such as establishing if a candidate has the right to work in the country, verifying qualifications, checking references, and arranging medical/health checks where necessary. Eolas Recruitment can assist you in this process.

Many employers check candidates’ profiles on LinkedIn and social media. It is good practice to inform the candidate if you are doing this. It’s also important to observe data protection/privacy rules.

Conclusion

While Covid-19 has increased use of video conferencing for online interviews, new technologies have been driving changes to working practices across many sectors for some time now. Vincent predicts that as more businesses realise the benefits and cost savings that can be achieved through these technologies, demand for IT workers will remain strong.

“From farmyards to fintechs, we’re seeing businesses in many sectors cut costs and streamline processes, regardless of the business size. There is also a lot more attention being paid to technology’s ability to support innovation, enhance service quality, and improve product development. So it’s not just about the bottom line. Still, although working practices are changing, some things never change. My focus today is the same as it was when I set up Eolas Recruitment twenty years ago—enabling our clients to attract and retain the IT talent they need to take their businesses forward.”

Need more information?

If you are new to Eolas Recruitment, you can find out more about us in our informational videos and online reviews. Alternatively, contact one our senior recruiters Peter Kirby, Nollaig Leydon or Stephen Daly who will be pleased to help you.

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