Boutique Search Services for Higher Education and Nonprofit

Tips for Video Interviews

From President, Carrie Coward:

Video Interview with Search CommitteeInstitutions are relying more and more on video technology for first-round interviews. While there are advantages to meeting face-to-face, video interviews have additional benefits to everyone involved. Bottom line, video interviews save time, money, and are environmentally friendly by reducing the need for costly airfare, facility rentals, and hotel costs. There are also advantages to a video interview for the candidate. A video interview takes only a few hours out of someone’s day and eliminates the need to take multiple days off from work.

While video interviews are cost-effective and convenient, they can also go awry if they are not well- planned. Video interviews can be especially awkward for the candidate as it is sometimes difficult to see the committee members and to hear well. You can imagine the challenge – the candidate has an impaired ability to read body language and facial expressions. It’s difficult for the candidate to get a warm and positive feeling during a video interview. This is the biggest challenge! However, there are steps that search committee members can take to optimize video interactions and cut down on needless problems.

Suggestions for a successful video interview:

Test the link: The search committee chair should arrange to have someone test the video link a few days before the interviews. Connecting and testing in advance can give you an idea of how the connection looks and sounds. Do not wait to optimize the connection or seating configuration at the first interview – any hitches will cost valuable time.

Have a backup plan: The search committee chair should make sure there is a plan for a phone-based interview should anything go wrong with the video option. You can arrange for a dial-in number and share that with the candidate in advance, or let the candidate know that you will initiate a call to the candidate’s cell phone should a problem occur. Make sure all parties are clear on the back-up plan.

Seek permissions if you intend to videotape the interviews: It is not viewed favorably by most candidates to have their video interviews recorded, but some committees prefer to record the interviews so that committee members who were not present during the live interview can watch later. If you decide to do this, make sure candidates are aware and give their consent in advance. It is helpful to explain how the videos will be used and by whom.

Organize question-asking in advance: The most common method is for the search committee to divide up and assign questions in advance and then take turns asking those questions. This works well if the committee and space is small. In cases where you have very large committees, you may choose to have one person ask the core questions and allow for other search committee members to ask follow-up questions if they have them. This is especially true when auditory conditions are not optimal. Do not allow a situation to occur where the candidate has trouble hearing the question or seeing who is asking the question.

Pick a timekeeper: Have a designated person who watches the clock and re-directs the candidate or committee as needed if the interview needs to speed up.

Anticipate the need to speak with intention: Search committee members need to pay special attention to speaking slowly, loudly, and clearly. This can’t be stressed enough. The cadence of a group video call is not the same as a one-on-one conversation. The candidate will respond favorably if he or she can hear the questions well.

Exude warmth: In any scenario, you want the candidate to feel welcomed and appreciated, whether or not you are interested in pursuing the candidate further. Use welcoming language, express appreciation, smile, and laugh – all these behaviors foster goodwill and help create a positive impression.

Taking the time to plan the video call carefully will optimize the experience for the committee and for the candidate.