COVID-19 is forcing millions of people to work from home and learn how to conduct virtual meetings. But one aspect of business today that’s received less attention is the need to conduct virtual interviews to fill accounting, finance, and other positions.
As with virtual meetings, virtual interviews are fundamentally different from in-person interviews, and you need to prepare for them in ways you may not be accustomed to. Here are five tips to conduct interviews that give you the information you need on each candidate and that present your organization in a positive light.
- Plan ahead
First, make sure the entire interview team is comfortable with the online meeting platform you’ll be using for the interviews. You could even set up a dry run to make sure everyone knows how to use the mute function and other settings. Once your team’s ready, communicate clear expectations to the candidate, letting them know:
- Which meeting platform you’ll be using
- Who will take part in the call (names and titles)
- How long the interview will last
- Set up your environment
To put your best foot forward in the interview, set up your environment so it is as professional as possible. Avoid backlighting, which will make it impossible for the candidate to see your face. Try to set up a quiet space, where you won’t be interrupted by your children, pets, or other distractions. And turn off text alerts and other notifications that could distract you from the interview. You might want to encourage the rest of your team to do the same.
- Look professional
Unless your organization prides itself on its laid-back attitude, you should plan to dress in a professional manner. Eliminate any unprofessional items in view of the camera, and consider setting a blank background if it’s possible on your virtual platform. No doubt you’ll be looking for the same level of attention from your candidates, so it’s best to model what you expect from them.
- Pay careful attention
You won’t be able to shake the candidate’s hand or assess their confidence as you walk down the hall with them, but even over a videoconference you can learn a lot from a candidate’s tone of voice and body language. Or at least you can if you pay close attention. Focus closely on what they’re saying and pause at the end of your questions and statements to avoid instances of talking over one another.
Engaging in active listening (nodding, smiling, etc.) will also help draw out the candidate and encourage longer answers.
- Close with a plan
Remember, every time you interview someone, you are representing your business. Whether you hire the person or not, you want them to walk away impressed. With that in mind, be sure to conclude interviews in a professional, positive way.
- Ask them if they have any questions, and answer them thoughtfully
- Thank them for their time
- Let them know what will happen next—be specific, and only make promises you can keep
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with businesses and nonprofits of all sizes. We provide affordable direct-hire solutions to companies of all sizes, as well as outsourcing and co-sourcing solutions on a temporary or long-term basis. Whatever type of help you’re looking for, we’re here to help you find the right solution in these trying times.