A Four Minute Read 

During the COVID period, it has been interesting to observe the move towards a 100% virtual interview process. Now is an excellent time to reflect and see if they are working for your business/candidates and whether they will replace physical interviews longer term.

The benefit of a virtual interview process is that it can save time, particularly for candidates and speed up employers’ hiring process. But there are many elements candidates and clients miss out on. These elements give both parties valuable insights into the candidate or employers business but are missing in a virtual setting.

One – More Issues to Deal With

Let us start by considering how a candidate might feel, building up to the interview. Historically their primary concern would have been getting to the interview in good time and finding the correct office location. In a virtual model, candidates deal with several possible obstacles in the build-up and during the interview.

These components will significantly increase pressure on them; they include- technical issues, internet speed issues, connecting to the meeting, what happens if the interviewer is late and trying to keep the rest of their household quiet! There are considerably more variables rather than just being able to leave a bit earlier to make it somewhere on time!

Think about the stress a candidate will be under if one of these things fails, or a combination of them occur when they are desperately trying to make a good impression. Therefore, it is imperative to give them a moment to compose themselves, try and offer solutions and don’t allow them to think that this will affect their chances in the interview process. However, this is a great test to see how your new employee operates under pressure if that is a job requirement!  

Two – Missing a Key Ingredient

Another moment you cannot replicate online is the walk from the reception to where you are conducting the interview. This golden time for you and the candidate allows you to interact in a less formal way pre the interview. I am sure you have always asked someone how their journey was to the office and whether they have any problems getting here. This short time can allow the interviewer to see how easy it is to engage with the candidate. From a candidate perspective, depending on the meeting room/office location, they will be getting glimpses of how the office looks, do the current staff look happy and engaged and would they see themselves fitting in.

The return walk after the interview is probably one of the most critical times for a candidate to get a clear understanding of how things have gone. Often candidates will pick up on significant nuggets of information on the way back to reception. They will be listening out for any positive informal feedback, mentioning second stages or job offers, looking at the interviewer’s body language, are they still engaged, or are they trying to get away as quickly as possible?  

All these elements help a candidate understand how well they performed. Currently, people click off quickly at the end of the interview as they are rushing to their next virtual meeting without giving much thought to how the candidate feels.

Three – Structuring the Interview

This brings us to the next consideration, timing. It can seem like a great idea to roll interviews back-to-back. From the client-side, you are 100% focused on the meeting’s timing. If you have not structured it correctly, or the interview process has taken longer than expected, the candidate will not have time to ask questions they want to know if they were considering working for your business. It will leave them feeling that this is a one-sided experience and wonder what help and support they will receive should they be successful in landing the job.

Four – Who Should be Involved?

Finally, it would help if you considered who is involved in the interview process and at what stage. It is highly tempting currently to include several employees in assisting with the recruitment process, but it can be pretty intimidating to see 3 or 4 interviewers pop up. It makes it hard for candidates to focus on multiple people online, see their body language and assess if they are engaged. This can be even harder if you have set them a presentation task to complete, as their focus will be ensuring your viewing the correct part of their presentation whilst delivering a powerful pitch to you. From the client perspective, it is harder to see if the candidate is nervous and for you to supply empathy as you would in a face-to-face situation.


In conclusion, interviewers need to consider these pointers and put themselves in a candidate’s mindset to ensure they are not putting people off working for their company! Make sure you have allowed enough time for questions from your candidates. Only include key decision-makers involved in the process, plus try and give the candidates more one on one screen time with the interviewers.

This could be achieved by breaking the interview down into segments with the various people involved. Consider using break out rooms to meet other team members and ensure you offer a coffee break between a presentation/task segment before returning to the interview.

It will be interesting to see once we return to the ‘new normal’ what level virtual interviews will play in the interview process, but I suspect it will be a hybrid model used to speed up the process.