engage

Recruitment• 5 Min read

11th June 2020

Here for you: Top tips to ensure you get the best outcome from virtual interviews

As part one of our series to help schools tackle the new challenges in recruitment, we wanted to discuss virtual interviews and explore some of the ways you can ensure you get great outcomes from them.

The pitfalls of virtual interviews

Face-to-face meetings are unlikely to be possible for the foreseeable future, but with organisations still functioning and schools planning for reopening, recruitment needs to continue.

This means finding new ways to make interviews work and for schools to learn whether someone will be a good fit for a role. Virtual interviews do just this – they are a way of speaking directly with a potential employee and for both parties to get a feel for the candidate and job role.

It’s vitally important that agencies are able to manage the logistics of virtual interviews, to take unnecessary stress away from schools and interviewees. We’ve all experienced this, there’s nothing worse than arranging a meeting with someone and having connection issues or not knowing your logins for a video-conferencing application. Potential pitfalls like these can completely change the tone of an interview, so we wanted to share some tips to help your interviews run smoothly.

Tips for virtual interviews

PLAN PROPERLY

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready before the interview and make sure to research who you are interviewing. Whether this is via a CV or if your agency is able to send you a pre-recorded video of the candidate introducing themself to supplement a CV, even better!

Make sure you have pen and paper for taking notes, a drink and that your phone is on silent – it’s also useful to test any technology you are going to use during the interview – make sure the camera and microphone on your computer are active and that your devices are fully charged or plugged in.

TEST THE SOFTWARE

It’s important your agency makes sure both parties are comfortable with the software that is being used, ideally by hosting a virtual test meeting with you ahead of your interviews. Whether it’s Google Meets, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, some school intranets are known to block certain applications. Testing this software ahead of interviews gives you a heads up whether the IT team at your school might need to take a look at its’ firewall policies.

Different computer can systems deal with video applications differently, from our experience, we know that Microsoft Teams can be tricky if you use a Chromebook. It’s this kind of insight that allows you to minimize potential pitfalls and delays to interview start times.

REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE

Many remote working apps and platforms work in a similar way – they will connect the microphone of the person speaking and shut off the rest – the same as any call you might make on WhatsApp or Facebook. This means background noise, even quiet noise, can make a big difference to the quality of the session and how much you can hear the other person. Don’t have music or the radio playing during the interview and ask other members of your household to give you some space.

It’s also important to let the interviewee finish each answer before you discuss it – interruptions can be amplified during virtual meetings, especially if there is a slight delay in receiving sound.

CONNECT WITH YOUR INTERVIEWEE

Being in your own environment could be a positive element to your interviews as you’ll be more relaxed and confident whilst in your own space. Take the opportunity to really connect with your interviewee, building a rapport can be more difficult over technology than in person but it’s not impossible.

Have a discussion about the key requirements of the role, explain your schools’ ethos and mission, and what you’re able to offer staff.

CONSIDER YOUR BACKGROUND

If you are back in school and interviewing for a new Science teacher, what better way to engage them than conducting the interview with their potential lab in the background! Or for a Primary teacher interview, show them around the new Year 5 classroom!

If you’re unable to interview from your school, it’s still important to sit somewhere quiet, with a plain background.

HOW LONG SHOULD INTERVIEWS BE?

Building rapport is a key part of any successful hiring process, as it sets up the foundations of a future working relationship. We understand this is easily achieved at a face-to-face interview, so it’s key it’s covered in a virtual one.

Striking the balance of talking about the opportunity enough to get the candidate engaged and enthused about your school, whilst getting to know them as an educator is key.

It’s important to spend sufficient time getting to know your interviewees’ skills, abilities, and attitude to self-development, as well as understanding whether they’d be a good fit for your school and its’ pupils. You also need to ensure you give your interviewee enough time to get to know you and your school, from your own perspective. This helps move things along when it comes to giving feedback and presenting an offer. If this conversation is left out of your initial interview with them, it could leave the candidate unsure and lacking the information they need to make a decision.

Adapting to change

Agencies and schools are having to adapt to entirely new means of communication and they’ll probably have to continue to interview this way for the foreseeable future, at least until the pandemic is over. At Engage, we had been working towards building successful remote working practices before the pandemic and as lockdowns around the world began, we are proud to say we were able to utilise processes already in place to continue working with teachers at home and abroad.

Our experience in local and international recruitment has enabled us to master the logistics of virtual interviews. Our virtual iday events were launched in 2019 as an extension of over 10 years of hosting in-person idays. Virtual iday has already facilitated over 100 successful placements and has received positive feedback from schools and candidates alike. The ease of being able to interview with multiple schools from home appeals to candidates unable to meet with prospective employers in the traditional way, but who are still looking to plan the next stage of their career. We’re also keen to support their wellbeing by giving them reassurance of future employment.

The opportunity to interview with multiple schools in one day allows both parties to make informed decisions, so being able to adapt quickly along with government guidelines on social distancing has meant we have been able to continue offering most of our services to our schools and candidates.

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