As we all know, online interviews still continue to be the ‘new normal’.

Whilst this may change over the coming months in line with recently updated COVID-19 ‘work from home’ guidance, many of us still expect online interviews to remain a key fixture of our hiring processes in 2022.

So, for all our HR and Recruitment teams out there, we ask: How do you feel about this? Are you currently in the midst of online interview scheduling hassle? Emailing online meeting invites, setting up joining instructions and trying to piece together interview panel availability?

If so, read on, for we have some tips and guidance to help avoid the pitfalls of remote interviews.

Man sat at a laptop, possibly conducting a remote interview

We’ll start with the positives of online interviews, shall we?

A video interview can make the hiring process more accessible for some candidates. Generally it is easier for an applicant to fit in an online session alongside existing work commitments, caring responsibilities, or other potential barriers.

Similarly, online interviews can be significantly more accessible for candidates who may have a disability or health condition which makes meeting face-to-face more difficult.

For employers too, there are benefits. Suddenly, your talent pool is much wider, as you’re no longer restrained by candidates’ location. Whilst many of us will be returning (or have already) to the office more regularly over the coming weeks and months, we know so many organisations are embracing the benefits of remote working. And, of course, one of these is that we can now hire talent from across the country (even the world).


Automation and interview scheduling tools

So, online interviewing can result in benefits for both an applicant and employer.

But despite going digital, the usual headaches around scheduling interviews still remain. Potential problems include:

  • Juggling interview panel members’ diaries. When are your Hiring Managers available? Does their availability for interviews align with your candidates’? And just how much time are you going to have to spend on the phone or via email, booking sessions, confirming joining instructions and rescheduling?This is low-value administrative work, which eats up you and your team members’ time during the interview process.
  • Booking and confirming interview appointments. Again, it’s likely that you are going to be spending a lot of time liaising back and forth between candidates and your interview panel.In fact, we spoke to one of our clients, StepChange Debt Charity, who told us about this very pain point. One of their Recruitment Advisors explained: “[When scheduling interviews], I can pinpoint one particular day where I received and made 137 calls!”

    This is a particularly challenging experience when you’re managing high-volume roles. And, of course, lest we forget that in the midst of a talent shortage, every potential delay in the interview process could lead to an applicant dropping out of your recruitment journey and instead applying for a role with one of your competitors.

  • Candidates’ familiarity with online interview tools. Whilst it certainly feels that we’ve lived much of our social lives across Zoom or Skype during the past two years, there’s a marked difference between using video interviewing platforms for personal use compared to professional.This may be particularly true for younger candidates (who may have less experience of using video interviewing, or business tools in general).

    It’s crucial to make sure that you provide support and guidance around how to join and participate in an online interview. This will help your candidates to feel more confident, and will enhance their overall candidate experience.

    For more on ensuring your remote interviews are accessible, we recommend this resource from Evenbreak: How to make your online interviews inclusive.


Okay, so we get that there are challenges around online interviewing and scheduling? So what tools and technology can help?

Ah yes, now this is the good bit. Because, as you’d expect from an Applicant Tracking System provider, we have a whole host of ideas, features and functionality to help improve your online interview scheduling process.

Job interview scheduling tools

We’ll start with automated interview scheduling. In Hireserve ATS, we refer to our interview scheduler tool, but other systems may provide similar functionality.

At a glance:

  • Enable all interview panel members to upload their availability to the system
  • Enable candidates to select their interview slots using their candidate portal
  • Candidates can release or change slots if they can no longer make a date or time
  • Run an Interview Schedule report to view your list of interviews for the day/week

One of the key benefits of this tool is that you can encourage self-service, both from candidates and from your interview panel members. This should free up a significant amount of your time, as you no longer have to be the ‘go-between’.

You should also be able to automate emails and reminders to both your candidates and Hiring Managers – again, saving you a whole heap of admin!


Say goodbye to fiddly joining instructions

Many of us know the pain of scheduling the weekly Skype family quiz – let alone a job interview!

At Hireserve we have a nifty way to lift another small – but significant – administrative burden for recruitment and HR teams.

Within the system, you can generate your own unique online interview link, which can be used time and time again for your online interviews, rather than setting up a new meeting on Teams or Zoom each time.

So no more creating new joining instructions or links and passwords each time you arrange a new interview.


Access online interview recruitment data and insights

Your ATS should enable you to report on attendance and success rates for both face-to-face and online interviews.

You could use your ATS reports to understand whether the move to remote interviews has improved the diversity of your candidates, for example. A new hire who previously would have found location or travel a challenge, might now be able to interview for roles at your organisation. Or applicants with caring responsibilities may find online interviews more flexible and accessible.

You can also use your data to inform longer term decisions. Maybe you previously used to run face-to-face assessment centres for a high volume of candidates. If you have moved to online assessments or interviews, take a look at whether your time or cost-per-hire has improved since (for example).

Find out more about Hireserve ATS’ reporting suite here.

Tips for interviewers

Interview environment

We often focus on the interviewee’s experience, but it’s just as important for employers to feel comfortable in front of the camera when conducting a video interview.

We should all be familiar now with how to make a good impression online, whether it’s during your weekly team tea-break or an all day meeting. Many of us have been able to carve out some semblance of a calm ‘home office’ (although not all of us – says the person currently writing from a spare room draped in laundry!). And, of course, for those of us without a semi-professinal work area, there’s always the ‘blur’ background effect to help us out.

But when you’re interviewing a potential new hire, it’s even more important to ensure that your surroundings are calm, uncluttered and professional. You want the focus to be on the interviewee themselves, and for your environment not to be a distraction. This may be even more crucial if you have multiple interview panel members. Having, say, four different workstations all on one screen could be distracting for your candidate (or for you and your colleagues!).


Welcoming your candidates

Although, in theory, there should be no reason to be late for an online interview (no traffic, travel or even leaving the house!), grappling with unfamiliar technology can be challenging for your candidates, and cause delays.

It could even hold up some of your interview panel!

Preparation is key. Ensure candidates can have a ‘trial run’ before their interview, or at the very least provide instructions – whether as a How-to Guide, or perhaps a video. Manage their expectations around the video interviewing software you’re using, and ensure their comfortable with their sound and camera settings.

This will help to enhance their candidate experience, and will provide them with the opportunity to perform at their best during your session.


Recruiter interview technique and style

We looked at this very topic recently: How to improve your interviewing technique


What do your interviewees want?

We spoke to UK jobseekers earlier in the year as part of our landmark Candidate Behaviour research report, all about video interviews and their experiences and attitudes.

Interestingly, although many candidates were comfortable with online interviews, the majority of our respondents did agree that they still prefer face-to-face sessions (62%), rather than remote.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given familiarity with technology, the preference for an in-person interview shot up in the 65+ age bracket. Younger candidates, too, were more likely to prefer a face-to-face session than video.

Again, this could be related to technology. Although our younger demographic are digital natives, as previously mentioned they may be less familiar with professional tools, such as Teams or workplace video interviewing tools.

So, the key to successful online interviewing?

  • Use automated, self-select interview scheduling tools to help reduce your recruitment admin 
  • Ensure your hiring process is accessible and inclusive
  • Provide training and/or support for candidates when using online interviewing technology
  • Gather feedback and look at your hiring metrics to better understand where you can make adjustments and improvements

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.