How to hire in a crisis: Tips for virtual interviews

By Joe Towner

The recruiting world has been thrown into turmoil since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, much as many other industries. However, as we begin to learn where our limits are, we are understanding that it is time to reframe the approach to interviewing during the crisis.

Virtual and telephone interviews are keeping the recruitment process going at the current time. And with more uncertainty ahead for businesses all over the country, it is vital that recruitment continues as smoothly as possible. 

Reframing Your Interview Approach During a Crisis

Many businesses struggle with the idea of a virtual interview and the challenges are certainly tangible. While we understand that the face-to-face interview is a highly preferred method of selecting your best talent, there are ways in which you can adjust and adapt to the new normal that is sweeping the globe.

Choosing the right technology and platform

If you are going to conduct a virtual interview, the quality of both the audio and video has to be top-notch to get and give the best impression. Use a tried and tested platform and ensure the right software, technology and hardware are in place, such as a microphone, camera and high-quality connectivity as top priorities.

Body language and facial expressions are important during an interview and it is crucial that you are still able to detect and read both clearly. 

Preparing for your virtual interviews

Preparing for a virtual interview should be even more important than a face-to-face one. Although telephone and virtual interviews are increasing in popularity, it is a completely new approach for many of us. 

Create an interview environment in a quiet place and set up your desk as you would usually for a traditional interview with the screen facing you. Test the connection with a colleague and make sure you can be clearly seen and heard. This is particularly important if you have a round of interviews arranged. Losing valuable time at the start of the process will only have a negative ripple effect throughout the rest of the schedule.

Ask the right questions

Many of the most successful recruiters have been moving away from the traditional interview format for some time. This includes the interview questions. During the current health crisis, and the rise of virtual and telephone interviews, more and more recruiting professionals are having to think outside the box in terms of their approach.

A face-to-face interview can generate a work-centred conversation more easily when the focus is on the work environment, either within the recruitment agency or the company premises. A virtual interview requires a different set of prompts to bring out the best in your interviewee in their home environment.

When you interview your candidates virtually, this will often be at home, where they already feel comfortable. This can be an excellent opportunity to really get to know your candidate and draw out some of their values and opinions. 

According to some top recruiting specialists, the best approach to interview questions is to keep them relevant to the current time. This is especially important if you’re hiring a group of remote workers, for instance, who will need to stay connected and supported. Some suggested questions include:

  • What support would you offer to the team during a crisis?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • What might make you leave your job in a year from now?
  • What would you win an award for?
  • What is your proudest work moment?
    • How did that impact your co-workers?

These types of questions will encourage your candidates to talk about themselves from both a work and a personal perspective. The answers have a wide scope for logical assessment and may offer valuable insights into the nature of the candidate and their viability for the role within a team – whether virtual or ‘real’.

Using virtual interviews to build a talent pool

Following up after a virtual interview is perhaps one of the most important steps of the recruitment process, even for unsuccessful candidates for particular roles. With the current economic uncertainty rippling through the business world, the recruitment industry is expected to be busy. Getting this part right can help you to use virtual interviews to build a talent pool of candidates, for instance. 

The talent pool is a rich resource for recruiters and building a good one is a tactic used by a growing number of successful recruitment professionals across the UK. This also means, however, that your recruitment database and applicant tracking systems need to be on-point and completely integrated to ensure the best candidates can’t slip through the net. This is crucial in what is predicted to be an extremely competitive marketplace over the foreseeable months.

Applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking is a critical part of the recruitment process and moving to automated systems can help smooth and streamline the process for both recruiters and candidates. While this process begins long before the interview stage, it forms the foundations of the selection stages.

When applicants are already experiencing uncertainty, using new communications methods will often require additional support and focus. By automating core elements of recruitment, time and resources can be saved, giving the recruiter the chance to focus on what they do best and create a tailored, personal approach for every candidate.

Some of today’s most powerful applicant tracking systems are integrated within a candidate management platform that includes a recruitment database to comply with GDPR. This approach can streamline and simplify routine tasks through automation and seamlessly track candidate details, communications, CV and applications and more. 

When you are creating a talent pool and tracking virtual interviews, candidate matching can be further streamlined using a configurable search of the talent pool within a recruitment database. More successful recruiters are moving towards automation of the fundamental elements of recruiting during the current health crisis. Some experts think that we are likely to see a greater increase in talent pools and subsequent candidate retention numbers as a result. 

How can Vacancy Lab help?

Vacancy Lab is a comprehensive recruitment management platform developed to simplify, streamline and increase the efficiency of the stages of recruitment. Whether you are a recruitment agency looking for new ways of communicating with your candidates to offer support or an HR department facing the challenges of hiring in a crisis, Vacancy Lab can bring a new approach. 

Talk to us about your concerns surrounding candidate tracking and retention, staying competitive during a crisis or how to prepare for new ways of communicating and let us help. With unique, scalable and cost-effective pricing and reliable telephone support, we’re different from other recruitment software providers.

With a central cloud-based system, everyone can see and search all candidates in one place. It’s given us a more structured approach, and day-to-day tasks are now managed more efficiently.
Fiona Frisson Senior Account Manager at Tarot Recruitment
Our focus is on providing our clients with top-quality candidates suited to their specific requirements. We can only do that because we trust Vacancy Lab to support what we do.
Jonathan Bates Partner at MPQR Resourcing Solutions
We’ve become a more productive and more effective business since we brought in Vacancy Lab. It’s made a real difference to how we deal with candidates and what we can achieve for clients.
Anthony Kelly Public Sector Director at Harvey Recruit Ltd.