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Online interviews

An online interview gives you the opportunity to get to know candidates and get an idea of which of them you’d also like to meet face to face. You should therefore use these online interview questions to decide in advance what you’d like your applicants to tell you.

Why you should conduct online interviews

Technology enables companies to interview candidates in just a few simple steps. The tools (e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.) are easy to use and can also save applicants and recruiters time and money.
Online interviews with candidates can help you:

  • determine “knock-out” criteria in advance;
  • save time if the company and the applicant are based in different locations;
  • assess candidates’ communication skills;
  • discuss anything that might be unclear in candidates’ application documents;
  • get a general impression of candidates.

Here are a few questions that you can ask candidates during an online interview:

Sample online interview questions

  • What inspired you to choose this profession?
  • Do you prefer working in a team or by yourself? Why? Please give me one or two examples for each scenario from your experience.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How soon could you start?
  • Are you currently employed by a company? If so, what’s the arrangement with your notice period?
  • Why did you decide to apply for this position? Was there anything particular in the job ad that grabbed your attention?
  • What can you bring to the team to help it meet its targets?
  • Describe a difficult project that you got done. What were the obstacles and how did you overcome them?
  • Have you worked with software XY before? What did you use it for?

Tips for making use of candidates’ answers to online interview questions

  • Find out about candidates’ availability. Treat online interviews like face-to-face discussions and ask applicants when they would be available for an online interview. This allows you to ensure that candidates will make time for the interview. In addition to the date and time, also provide information such as the name of the interviewer and how long the interview is likely to last.
  • Give clear instructions about the interview process. Tell candidates what details (e.g. link) they will need to access the tool being used. This lets you make sure that you and the candidate will actually find each other online and avoids confusion.
  • Try and avoid disruption, interruptions, and bad connections as far as possible. Choose a quiet area in your company so that there won’t be any disturbing background noise and you’ll be able to understand the person you’re speaking to. Test out the tool you’ll be using first to make sure that it works and your connection is adequate.
  • Try to maintain “eye contact,” even though you’re online. You can do this by focusing on the camera rather than staring at the screen. Constantly looking in other directions could unsettle candidates unnecessarily, so try and stay focused on the candidate throughout your conversation.
  • Be prepared and ask follow-up questions if anything is unclear. If the candidate tells a story that interests you, don’t hesitate to ask them about it. If you decide precisely what you want to know in advance, this and asking follow-up questions will ensure that the conversation flows.
  • Record your conversation. You can simply record the interview rather than writing notes. This will let you watch it back later or show it to your recruitment team. Before pressing record, however, you must make sure you have your candidate’s permission. The best way is to send the candidate a declaration of consent beforehand.

Warning signs

  • Applicants log on too late or cannot be contacted. Candidates who are really interested in the position will also turn up online at the agreed time. If something urgent has cropped up, these candidates will let you know and suggest postponing the interview. If, however, candidates vanish without a trace, this could indicate a lack of interest.
  • Applicants have a poor connection or background noise. Applicants should find a quiet room so that you can focus on them without constantly being distracted by background noise or similar.
  • Applicants act unprofessional and indifferent. An online interview is just as important as a face-to-face meeting. If candidates use very informal language or are dressed casually, therefore, this could indicate that they are not really taking the interview seriously.
  • Applicants seem very tense. Being a bit tense is normal in an interview situation. However, if candidates are unable to shake off this nervousness during your conversation, you should consider whether the person is actually suited to the job. This kind of manner is particularly unsuited to job roles where communication or presentation skills are important.

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