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Recruitment Tips: Conducting a Virtual vs In-person Job Interview

Virtual interviews definitely save time in screening candidates, but the merits of a face-to-face conversation shouldn’t be overlooked. We discuss where each type of interview works best!

According to a recent study by HireVue, a technological company specialising in digital recruitment processes, 41% of hiring leaders from the United States, Australia and United Kingdom plan to combine both in-person and virtual interviews in their hiring strategy. It will come as no surprise that such hybridity may be commonplace in Singapore too, especially when virtual hiring methods have increased since January 2020 amid social distancing requirements. Recruiters have seen the benefits of the enforced adoption then, with hiring processes streamlined and reduced by up to 70% as reported by Alvin Ang, talent acquisition director of Quantum Leap Career Consultancy.

Indeed, the benefits of online interviews are plenty. For one, the number of interviews conducted can be increased as lesser time is spent switching from one call to another.

“Once a call is over, the call is over,” shares Colleen Garret, a US-based clinical recruiter at Expressable. “When interviewing in person, you have to account for the potential for someone to be late and other interruptions or obstacles that happen in the office.”

In addition, such job interviews make it possible for both recruiters and interviewees to call in wherever they are based, reducing the time and resources required to travel down, and having a global pool of candidates to tap on. Plus, with the ability to record the interview (with permission), recruiters can tune back to the clips to aid their decision-making.

However, the genuine connection recruiters make with interviewees in person cannot be replaced. Should the role in question require a strong display of social skills for instance, a face-to-face conversation to ascertain the candidate’s ability is all the more important.

Virtual interviews are here to stay, while in-person interviews will remain viable in situations that demand them. How do you decide the right circumstances for each?

When to conduct virtual job interviews

Typically, virtual interviews are applicable to all types of roles, from the entry-level candidate to the C-suite aspirant.

However, they will be more suitable when:

  • You have multiple potential candidates and need to narrow them down to a handful before meeting them in person
  • You are hiring remote workers beyond geographical boundaries
  • Your interviewee(s) is unavailable to travel down for a face-to-face chat
  • Your recruitment team is working remotely
  • You do not have time to conduct multiple in-person job interviews in a given time

As recruiters, you must also display basic etiquette when arranging virtual interviews for candidates. These tips will give you a good head start:

  • Mutually set a date and time for the interview
  • Email the teleconference link to the candidate at least one day before the interview
  • Tune in at least 15 minutes before the interview
  • Test your camera and microphone ahead of time
  • Ensure your internet connection is stable
  • Have all materials ready to screen-share during the interview, if required.

Evidently, virtual interviews are the most convenient way for recruitment teams to connect with candidates, but it is vital that you consider in-person interviews when there is an opportunity.

When to conduct in-person job interviews

As mentioned, in-person interviews are the best if you want to genuinely engage with your candidates. However, it is not always possible to conduct such job interviews when time and resources are scarce. That said, there are a few situations where you should opt for a face-to-face conversation with the candidate:

1. You are recruiting a senior manager or C-suite personnel

 Candidates vying for leadership positions are often expected to exhibit strong communication and people skills. While you may be able to pick up some hints during the virtual interview, inviting the person for an in-person chat lets you gather cues based on their body language. Moreover, recruiters will need to spend more time conversing with the candidate to ascertain whether his/her experience fits for a top-level role, so eliminating distractions and disturbances during virtual interviews, such as internet glitches and background noises, ensures the interview stays focused and productive.

2. You are recruiting for a client-facing role

While those working in client-facing roles may be expected to have a firm grasp of communication technologies today, there are some traits that recruiters need to look out for that are necessary for this line of work. These include, among other aspects, having good eye contact and speaking coherently in private and group settings. Such skills are required by various customer-oriented positions such as retail sales associates, insurance agents, receptionists and the equivalent. As a recruiter, the assessment of a candidate’s body language provides clues to their level of professionalism in a social context, one that is highly demanded as part of the role. Virtual interviews do not allow for this as the lack of physicality eliminates the need for candidates to display such behaviour.

While a face-to-face job interview makes it easier to screen such candidates, you may consider scheduling video calls with a list of potential hires and then shortlisting those you think are worth moving ahead with.

Making the right choice

Both virtual and in-person job interviews have their advantages and are more well-suited for different circumstances. Therefore, there is never a right or wrong choice when it comes to planning your interviews. Combining the two to streamline your hiring process will assist you in making the best recruitment decisions for your company.

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