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Video Interviewing Best Practices

Today’s blog is from a guest blogger, Dave Murphy from The Alpine Group. The Alpine Group matches great people with great opportunities in the Biotech, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Technology industries.

Take it away, Dave….

These days I find myself in the interesting position of helping both hiring managers and candidates prepare for the uncomfortable experience of video interviewing. Since nobody can get together for face-to-face meetings due to mandated quarantines all of the final interview sessions are being held online. This is not normal or natural but it’s the best we can do, and since there is a continued need for important positions to be filled we all need to get comfortable with this new interviewing method very quickly. I’ve compiled a list of Best Practices for candidates who are interviewing for a job and for employers who are conducting the online interviews. There is some overlap on both lists, of course, including the importance of keeping the dog out of the room and to remember to wear pants. But some of the points are unique for each party.

Video Interviewing Best Practices for Candidates

1. Pick a location free from distractions that has adequate lighting (ideally position your computer so you are looking out the window).
2. Limit the distractions in the background and your desk space. A glass of water is acceptable, but refrain from other beverages to maintain a high level of professionalism.
3. Test your technology to assure you have no technical difficulties and all programs work as required.
4. Make sure to “arrive early.”
5. Maintain “Eye Contact” – look directly into the camera lens, rather than at the screen or your photo.
6. Dress for Success – by avoiding bright or flashy colors, white clothing or clothing with patterns. Dress as you would for an in-person professional interview.
7. If possible, use a headset with microphone during the interview to avoid any outside or background noise and for better clarity.

Video Interviewing Best Practices for Interviewers

1. Familiarize yourself and your team with the video software program, and test equipment prior to the interview.
2. Assign areas of skill evaluation across the interview team in advance of the interviews.
3. Prepare one video conference with one hyperlink for all interviewers to use throughout the day, rather than individual video calls for each interview.
4. Utilize a headset with microphone to limit background noise and to improve clarity.
5. Make sure to schedule breaks for the interviewee into the schedule, as you would for an in-person interview.
6. If you experience technical difficulties, abandon the video interview platform and conduct the interview telephonically.

This last point is very important – we’ve been getting many reports of poor connections and band-width problems with video calls, so rather than spending 15 minutes struggling with tech problems it makes more sense for the interviewer to simply call the candidate on the phone. We can reschedule a one-on-one video call at a later time.

One more point to consider in this process is the importance of visual documentation in an interview. Humans believe and retain much more information they gain visually than verbally, and interviewers are no different. In a normal, on-site interview it’s alway a Best Practice for a candidate to be prepared to refer to visual documentation, evidence or examples of their work to reinforce the points they are making verbally. This raises the comfort level of the interviewer that the candidate actually has the skills and experiences they claim to have. In the video interview setting that option can be lost unless the candidate plans ahead and either requests a sharing feature in the video call, or simply emails documents to the interview panel ahead of time that they might want to reference in the online discussions. Another option that makes a great deal of sense is to refer to a document visually in the video call by holding it up, although the interviewer can’t see the details, and explain that you will send the information after the interview in a separate email message.

These are unusual times that call for unusual action. I think we will quickly see that the people who plan ahead, innovate and try new methods of communication and problem solving will rise to the top.

About Dave: Dave Murphy is the Practice Director and founder of The Alpine Group, https://www.alpinesearch.net/. He specializes in recruiting Marketing and Business Development personnel in the BioPharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Life Science industry. Prior to founding The Alpine Group in 1999, Dave spent 12 years in sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical industry with Merck and Wallace Laboratories. His client companies range from small Biotech companies to large Pharma and Med Tech multinationals.

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