As many offices shift to remote work, daily operations will need to adapt to using virtual technology in multiple settings. Fortunately tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, and other platforms can facilitate interactions between candidates and hiring teams, as well as advancement teams and their stakeholders – with the right preparation.

Advice for candidates:

Video conferencing technology is routine in many institutions, and facility and confidence with video technology is mandatory for individuals in the job market. The sooner you reach a level of comfort with this technology, the less worry you will have and the more time you will have to focus on your interview.

Even more importantly, a study published in Cognitive Research found that AV quality impacts assessments of job candidates in video interviews, even with explicit instructions to not bias against candidates who experienced glitches or displayed a lack of tech fluency. So minimizing issues with your audio, lighting, connectivity, and ability to use the technology will ensure that nothing detracts from your interview performance.

Aspen Leadership Group team members have previously offered interview tips that include specific advice for virtual interviews as well as common pitfalls to avoid to ace an interview. Those tips include:

  • Dress for a video interview as if it were an in-person interview and conduct yourself in the same manner that you would were you in the room with the interviewer. Be conscious of your posture, hand gestures, and other subtle means of expression. Zoom offers a “Touch Up My Appearance” feature that may give you an extra boost of confidence.
  • Prepare your surroundings. Find a room with a neutral background and good lighting for the time of day. Make sure light is on you, not behind you, so people can fully see you.  Put table lamps on either side of your computer screen, or be under a bright ceiling light.
  • “Test drive” video technology in advance with a friend or former colleague.
  • Consider recording yourself in an effort to refine your video conferencing skills.
  • Take measures to prevent disruptions during your interview. If there are unavoidable factors in your home setup (e.g. noise from neighbors, cars, or trains, slower internet due to multiple users, or children home from school), privately mention this to the interview contact in advance to troubleshoot.
  • Surprisingly, there is more eye contact in a virtual meeting than a regular meeting (if it is a group of 4 or more). People’s eyes instinctively move to a screen, they can see more immediately people’s reactions across the 4+ people’s faces on the screen vs. just looking at the one person they are talking to and not noticing reactions of others around them in a regular meeting. Stay connected via eye contact.
Advice for hiring managers and committees:
  • Establish a point person to lead the logistics of the call and the flow of dialogue. Make sure that person has host privileges on the call and understands basic conference call functions to assist anyone on the call (e.g. muting other attendees if there is background noise, using the chat feature).
  • Some free versions of video-conferencing platforms limit the length of calls and the number of call participants. It may be worthwhile to invest in a few pro licenses to mitigate these challenges.
  • Just as candidates should test their technology beforehand, members of the hiring team should do the same, especially if they are unfamiliar with it, so as not to distract anyone on the call or take time away from the candidate’s responses.
  • Establish norms for hiring committee members about timeliness, using the web platform versus calling in, multi-tasking during an interview, muting themselves when not speaking, and other codes of conduct to ensure the best possible interview experience.
  • If using Zoom, use the waiting room feature when scheduling the call so that attendees cannot enter the call before the host arrives.
  • Establish an alternate host so that in the event the designated host is running late or unavailable, the interview can still proceed with another team member.
  • If scheduling multiple interviews using the same meeting room link, leave a buffer of time between interviews so that candidates do not dial-in early to another candidate’s interview.
  • The same measures to limit unconscious bias in the interview process should be applied in a video interview.
For teams using conferencing technology:
  • For those just getting started on video-conferencing, provide a simple tutorial on how to log in, get the video and audio right, how to mute oneself, and differences between Speaker View and Gallery View. A common issue for newbies seems to be getting the audio right to hear and be heard. Zoom offers robust tutorials and live demos for those just getting started.
  • Establish norms for video-conferencing. Encourage people to mute themselves when not speaking and instruct them how to do it on the phone (*6). If they need to excuse themselves, have them stop their video temporarily (while remaining logged on). Encourage people to raise their hands or use the chat feature to rotate who is speaking next. The organizer should be mindful of engaging people whose voices are not being heard.
  • Multi-tasking can happen in large Zoom calls, especially if someone has two screens on one’s desktop.  But surprisingly, there is less multitasking on Zoom meetings than in in-person group meetings when people are looking around, looking at phones, or daydreaming. There is something about the accountability of everyone seeing you, and you seeing everyone that stems the instinct to look at emails coming in.
  • To the above point, design meetings to be interactive to keep their attention. Share documents, ask for feedback at regular intervals, show information and then take the pulse of the group. Engage other features like chat, screen-sharing, and breakout rooms to facilitate different types of dialogue. If they get to know that you are hosting a substantive meeting where they input will be asked for and taken seriously, participants will be more present for you.
  • During this time, the use of platforms like Zoom will go up a hundredfold in this country; ask people to connect via the Zoom platform (either by video or just audio) rather than calling in by phone.  Due to volume more Zoom calls are being dropped these days when they go through a secondary system (landline or cell) vs talking through the platform.

If you are leading a larger group in a lecture-style format, you may consider upgrading to a webinar license, which allows hosting for hundreds of attendees, more host controls, live-polling features, raising hands, and other functionality in. Zoom offers robust tutorials and live demos from its staff if you would like to learn more about hosting webinars.

The company More Onions offers a quick but robust tipsheet on running a great webinar: https://owncloud.more-onion.com/s/QKXDsx9YLdndyk6#pdfviewer

If you have other resources or ideas to contribute, please share them with us, either via email or on our LinkedIn page. We hope to share additional resources across the ALG Community. And give yourself patience and grace, as these new adaptations can seem daunting at first, but they will become increasingly easier with practice and when you raise your hand to ask for help. If you need additional support, please contact the ALG team.

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