Best Ways To Conduct Not-In-Person Interviews With Student Applicants

By Julia Dunn on February 1, 2018

The fast-paced life of an employer often means it’s not possible to hold in-person interviews with candidates when you’d like to. Actually, many companies conduct at least their preliminary interviews remotely. If you’re looking to hire a college student employee, you’re in luck, because most young folks are well-versed in the technology a remote interview often requires.

A non-in-person interview is much like an in-person interview, but the differences between them can add an extra element of difficulty to the process if you (or your student applicants) aren’t prepared for them. Here are the best ways to conduct a not-in-person interview with a potential college student employee—plus some tips on making sure the interview runs smoothly.

1. Don’t skimp on the interview quality

Just because you aren’t sitting next to your applicants doesn’t mean you can’t hold the interview with the same quality you otherwise would. Give students the same questions you would ask in person, and grant them enough time to answer those questions. Ideally, the remote nature of the interview should not at all impede on the success of it, so structure it consistently.

2. Use video conferencing tools

Most companies and organizations use video conferencing for meetings between employees in different locations, but increasingly, businesses use them to conduct interviews with job applicants. This is the best way to achieve an in-person interview feeling without actually being face to face.

While you may be used to using Skype, Zoom, or some other video chatting system, it’s best to give student applicants a few options when it comes to the particular software used in the interview. While you may be tempted to say “Our company uses Zoom for video conferencing—please download and teach yourself how to operate the program” as a sort of test for your applicants, this can also present problems for your prospective employees. For instance, students who own Chromebook laptops can’t download software and are restricted to internet browser interfaces only.

interview, computer, laptop, student

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To minimize problems related to accessibility and reduce the burden that might otherwise weigh on the student, give the student different software options and ask them to select one that works, or hold the interview over Google Hangouts. The best part about Hangouts is that it’s internet based and anyone who owns a Google account can access it on a webcam-equipped computer. Students should feel focused on the content of their interview more than the logistics of the interview itself; if they’re stressed over connecting to you on the right software, they may feel unnecessarily anxious.

Don’t make student applicants feel inadequate if they cannot access a computer with a webcam; you can never assume equipment is accessible to everyone at the time they may need it. If students can only access laptop rental services during their school’s library hours, schedule the interview at a time when students can visit the library and grab a computer.

3. Give applicants all the information they need to feel comfortable

If opting for a video conference interview, make sure students know ahead of time who will be interviewing them and what time to log onto the platform. Sometimes the screen can be intimidating, and it’s worth telling applicants what to expect from the company’s end during the interview, including structure and length.

Will it be a group screen interview where multiple interviewers are entering the call from their own remote locations, or will you be sitting in a conference room with everyone who will participate in the video interview with applicants? Additionally, make sure to find out your applicants’ usernames if using video software.

4. Be able to conduct phone interviews if video conferencing doesn’t work

If it turns out you need to conduct a phone interview, make sure you and your interviewees have reliable data/WiFi connections. In phone interviews, make sure to articulate questions clearly, as your interviewees will not have the visual aids that come with lip reading in the video conference frame.

5. Keep distractions and noise at a minimum

This applies to both you and applicants–ensure your room is silent, and that colleagues know not to barge into your conference room during the interview time. Put a sign on the door to prevent this from happening. In correspondence with job applicants, let them know to coordinate with any housemates or roommates to minimize both visual and auditory distractions, as these can throw off the flow of an interview and be bothersome to deal with.

Conducting not-in-person interviews over video or phone call can be a great way to gauge the personality of your prospective employees before bringing them into the office for the first time. These remote interviews are commonplace these days, especially in the advent of hiring for partially or entirely remote positions.

When holding interviews with college students, make efforts to help them feel welcome; many students feel a little awkward conducting professional matters via webcam. The main takeaway? A not-in-person interview should resemble an in-person interview as closely as possible–don’t let technology throw either of you for a loop.

By Julia D

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz

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