How to Host a Video Interview

By Kimberly Smith and Ashley Rittgers

Executive interviews are a two-way street. Just as leadership candidates hope to make a strong, positive impression, the hiring organization, too, must represent itself well and try to impress candidates.

This is especially true of video interviews. Whether it’s a single hiring manager or an entire search committee conducting the interview, there is a risk of coming across as disorganized or unprofessional if the proceedings are not well-orchestrated.

The following are recommendations that hiring managers and committees can take to heart as they prepare to host video interviews with leading candidates.

For one or a few interviewers:

  • Get the right space. Ensure you have access to a nice, quiet, well-lit office or conference space for the interview. It pays to reserve the best room you can get.
  • Test your technology thoroughly. Make sure both your audio and video are in good working order well before the scheduled interview time. Also, have a back-up plan in the event you or the candidate has difficulties with connection. (For one-on-one interviews, FaceTime can work.)
  • Greet the candidate with a smile (and keep it up). Create a warm, inviting atmosphere for the duration of the video session.
  • Provide a detailed introduction. Although the interview is via videoconference, it is important for the candidate to understand your position and how you interact with the role.
  • Speak slowly and clearly into the microphone or speaker. This will help offset any potential delay in voice transmission.
  • Be mindful of time. Sometimes things take a little longer by video; block off time at the end for the candidate to ask questions of you as well as additional back and forth.

What Committees Must Know

The following are additional guidelines that apply in particular to group interviews:

  • Designate roles. In advance, assign who will operate the technology and who will kick off the interview with a welcome/introduction of the candidate to the interviewing group.
  • Assign questions beforehand. A group interview can seem like a free-for-all if interviewers don’t know who will ask what questions.  
  • Establish the parameters. At the start, outline the process of the interview to the group and candidate so everyone understands how it will play out.
  • Use the chat function. Participants may use the chat function of the conferencing software to coordinate efforts, remembering that the interviewee can also read the messages.
  • Make names legible/audible. If using tent cards, make the writing large enough for the candidate to read via video. Whether or not the committee members are in the same room, recommend that each state their name before asking a question or providing input.
  • Get the mics and lights right. If the group is in the same room, be sure the microphone is placed so that all attendees can be heard, and that the faces of interviewers are well lit. If they are in separate locations, ask each participant to test their audio and lighting. They should use their mute button when not speaking.
  • Request undivided attention. Ask everyone to stay tuned into the proceedings. If they are eating, checking cell phones, or getting up for coffee, it appears as if the committee members are not interested in the candidate.

Inevitably there may be a few glitches with a typical video interview. Nevertheless, interviewees know and appreciate when a video interview is planned and organized, which will reflect positively upon their potential future employer.

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