VIRTUAL INTERVIEWING for EMPLOYERS
 

The COVID -19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted our lives in new and uncharted ways. 

On campus visits and interviews, at the moment, are no longer prudent. Virtual interviewing also offers us the opportunity to save time and money while increasing our exposure and access to qualified candidates. 



I. PREPARING FOR A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW:

In today's tight and highly competitive job market, preparation for the interview process is essential. The interview offers an opportunity for you to market and “sell” your school and its community. Remember, job seekers have options and you have competitors!


1. Give the interviewee time to prepare

It’s important to give your candidates ample notice and time [at least 48 hours] to prepare for the virtual interview. Giving candidates the opportunity to prepare ensures that they are confident and at their best when you do hold the interview. This is also a professional courtesy and demonstrates your professionalism and thoughtfulness in terms of the interview process.

 

2. Develop a standardized rating system

Just like with in-person interviews, develop a standardized system in which allows you to rate each candidate’s qualifications. Use this rating system to keep track of how each candidate performs during the virtual interview process. Once you have completed all virtual interviews, use your rating system to determine the most promising applicants.

  

3. Choose a quiet and distraction-free location to conduct your interviews

The interview and candidates deserve your full and undivided attention. Conduct your virtual interviews in a place that is quiet and free from distractions. If you need to conduct your interviews from home, be sure to

choose an “interruption free zone” or room. Your space should have a neutral background so the candidate is not distracted by your environment. Try to keep the environment as professional as possible to mimic the setting of an in-person interview.  Remember, you are representing your school and community. For many of the job seekers this will be their first introduction to the school.  It is important for you to make a great first impression. 


4. Prepare for the interview by outlining questions

Hiring managers and their search committees should have a list of prepared job-related questions that you ask every candidate as part of your standardized rating system. These questions should be related to what the applicant will encounter in the position, their job duties, and the skills necessary to perform the job successfully. Be prepared to ask probing questions to gain clarification. Determine beforehand what constitutes an acceptable and unacceptable answer for each of your interview questions. This will assist you in your evaluation of the candidates and their responses. 


In the same way that job applicants must research their potential employer, the interviewer and their teams must be prepared to answer questions asked by the candidates. Be sure to review the candidate’s full application, including their resume, cover letter and any additional supportive documents.


5. Beware of questions not to ask

Certain interview questions are prohibited by state regulations and by the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Such interview questions could potentially make your school liable in an employment discrimination lawsuit. As an interviewer, you should know what your human resources department expects from you in regard to teh school's non-discriminatory policy. Avoid inappropriate questions, including but not limited to those below, that touch upon:


• An individual's race, ethnicity, religion, or gender

• A candidate's citizenship status or place of birth

• Any physical or mental disability

• Marital status

• Whether a candidate is pregnant

• Prior salary history


[see: NEMNET’s 20 Questions to Ask and 20 Questions to NEVER ASK]


Asking questions that require only a "yes or no" answer is often of little value to employers. The STAR model of interview question is an effective way to engage with the applicant and get beneath the surface to learn more about their abilities and experience. With STAR and other methods, the goal is getting the candidate to share relevant information that helps you in making your hiring decision. 


The STAR design encompasses:

Situation:   Ask the candidate to describe a situation where they used a key behavior or competency.

Task:   Invite the applicant to articulate the specific task(s) they had to achieve within the stated situation.

Action:   Ask the candidate to clearly convey actions they took in the face of the situation and task at hand.

Result:    Finally, ask the individual to define the results or outcomes triggered by their actions within the broader context they previously outlined.


If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so and get back to the applicant at a later date. 


5. Test your connection

Virtual interviews are dependent on your and the candidate’s internet connection. Before the interview, test your connection several times. Test and make sure your microphone and webcam function correctly. We recommend that you also perform a practice run with a colleague to ensure all of your systems works. If you plan to record the interview, you must, as a professional courtesy, inform the applicant. 



6. Send the candidate a virtual interview invitation via email

Send each candidate an invitation for the virtual interview and request a reply confirmation. The invitation should include the day and time that the interview will be held and all the information needed to access the software you’ll use for the interview, including an access codes or log in information. Be very clear about the format of the virtual video interview, so candidates know what is expected of them. Include how long you anticipate the interview lasting and add any additional documentation or information you want the candidate to have on hand during the interview.



II. CONDUCTING A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW


1. Dress professionally

Even though you may be conducting the interview from home or another remote location, it’s important to dress professionally to create a business like atmosphere. This conveys your commitment to professionalism and shows that you take the interview process seriously even when conducting interviews remotely. 

NOTE: You shouldn’t expect applicants to dress professionally if you don’t communicate this expectation. DO NOT ASSUME. Communicate your expectations!


2. Conduct the virtual interview as you would an in-person interview

Virtual interviews can seem more casual than in-person interviews, but it’s important that you treat remote interviews just as you would those that you hold in your office. Use professional language, including body language, and remain focused. Turn off your phone and computer notifications to avoid distractions. Give the candidate your undivided attention and make direct eye contact by looking at your computer’s camera instead of the screen.


Start with a warm welcome and introduction. Be sure to include your title, role and the number of years in which you have served your current employer.  It’s also helpful to personalize the start of the interview by sharing a small personal tidbit about yourself. You can also mention something about the candidates that caught your eye while conducting your own research. Establishing some level of rapport at the beginning means a better interview throughout the process.


As you get started, offer a brief introduction of what you want to achieve, give an indication of the proposed length of the interview, and let them know if there will be time afterward for their questions. Start with easy, non-threatening questions to help the interviewees establish their comfort level with the technology, the situation, and with you.


3. Goals

The major goal of a stage one virtual interview is to make connections with the applicants. This is the time to filter out the candidates with the best professional qualifications who also seem as though they could meld with the established culture and climate of your school and community.



Below are [3] essential questions we ask our schools to consider in interviewing applicants; 


Is this candidate competent?


Can this candidate add value to our school and community?


If the candidate is lacking some professional experience or skills, but has the temperament and work ethic   

   you seek, are you willing to train and nurture the applicant?



4. Beware of interviewer bias and errors

We all have biases. [Yes, even you!]  Without formal training and practice, interviewers and their search committees may inadvertently allow their biases to impact the screening and selection processes. [see: NEMNET’s List of Interviewers Biases]  Interviewers must take precautions to ensure that their preconceptions don't overly color their judgment.  Interviewers and their search committee can increase the likelihood of success by sticking to prepared and predetermined questions, increasing the diversity and members of their search committees, creating the time and "safe" place to check and confront each others biases. Practice will be the key. 


While we all may be prone to making snap impressions of someone we meet for the first time, it's best to curb that impulse during a job interview. Left unchecked, a first impression (good or bad) can cloud everything that happens afterward. Do your best to approach every candidate interview as a new inquiry, with an open mind. 


5. Conclude the interview on a positive note

Among the best interview tips for employers is the simple reminder: End the experience the way you started, on a positive, upbeat note. Allow 10-15 minutes near the end of the interview for the candidate's questions. You can learn a lot about an applicant by the types of questions an interviewee asks. 


Finally, thank candidates for their time, offer some idea of the hiring timeline and when they'll be contacted about a decision or subsequent interviews. Allow them to sign off first. Your friendly demeanor goes a long way toward making the interview a positive experience for everyone involved.


Remember, a job interview isn't just a situation where the job candidate makes the best case for themselves. It's also an opportunity for you to "sell" your school, community and the opportunity.   


Good Luck!


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