Virtual Interviewing – Gaining Confidence in Hiring Decisions

By: PierceGray Staff

As organizations work to maintain momentum through the COVID-19 crisis, a new normal of video interviewing has emerged.  Hiring managers and human resources professionals are now faced with the decision of whether to pause the hiring process until meeting in person is feasible or make hiring decisions virtually.

At PierceGray, we use video interviews as a part of normal business operations and have done so for years.  In 2019 alone, we conducted over 1,700 video interviews.  To get the most out of these interactions, we follow some basic rules of engagement that lead to the most productive conversations and help us effectively evaluate technical capabilities and softer skills, such as leadership, communication, and presence.

In an effort to help individuals and organizations adapt to our collective ‘new normal’, PierceGray has consolidated our “best practices” for video interviewing below:

  1. Environment: Position yourself in a stable, quiet, well-lit environment with your camera at eye-level (never below your face).  Make sure your background is clean and distraction free.   NEVER sit in front of a window or other significant source of light, as that will cast a black shadow on your face.  Consider wearing headphones with a microphone to optimize your audio communication.  Tip:  If your lighting is less-than-ideal, place a small lamp near your feet to create an “up-light” for your face.
  2. Technology:  Ensure your video platform (i.e. Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc.) has been tested and the network connection is stable.  Close any programs that create notifications or may make a sound (i.e. e-mail, text, chats). Remove all other temptations for distraction.
  3. Behavior: Pay close attention to energy, eye contact, body language, etc. during the video interview, just as you would in an in-person setting.  Though it’s not a live interaction, a lot can be learned about an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, lead, and/or influence others through the video.   Other characteristics such as confidence, interest, and thoughtfulness are equally assessable with the right set of questions.  Tip: Consider using two monitors, one for the video and one for the resume and note taking applications.  This allows you to expand the video feed to near-life size, greatly improving the quality of your interaction and evaluation.
  4. Human Connection: Interviewing, especially over video, is an uncomfortable and/or uncommon behavior for most people.  Take the time to engage personally at the onset of the conversation to establish rapport, alleviate tension, and allow for an authentic interaction.  We recommend choosing something from the interviewers resume that can help you relate to them personally (say, you both lived in Chicago at one time).  It’s also common in video interviews to ask about something interesting in the interviewer’s background, such as “I really like that painting behind you.   Where did it come from?”  You’ll be amazed by what you learn about the person.
  5. Evaluation: Always schedule a debrief session, also by video conference, following interviews with multiple stakeholders.  Share impressions among the team members and grade the candidate against 4 to 5 key criteria for the position that have been agreed to in advance.  Capture your feedback in written form so it can be shared through the video platform and distributed easily.   Note: Most video conference tools have the option of recording interviews, so that all or portions of the interview may be shared with colleagues.  Please note, if you do this, interviewers are required by law to obtain permission from the candidate to record.


With practice, these actions build candidate rapport, support the qualification process, and ultimately provide confidence in hiring decisions.