4 Tips For Conducting Video Interviews

4 Tips For Conducting Video Interviews

With the onset of COVID-19, churches and ministries are finding ways to worship virtually, and leaders are looking to understand how to run their churches, ministries, and businesses remotely.

Our way of life is rapidly changing, and as we head into another week of online church, it’s clear that our new normal is starting to be established. Once we’ve dealt with the larger things: checking in on those around us who are vulnerable, managing our weekend church services online, and washing our hands, we need to get a little creative - and flexible - to adjust how we handle business in the time of COVID-19. 

As our clients are grappling with what life online looks like, a key area organizations are contemplating is how to continue with job interviews. While we’re distancing ourselves physically, many people are still looking to move forward with adding or reorganizing their staff and teams. Thanks to the digital age, it’s feasible to continue hiring—just with some additional measures in place.

While an in-person interview might not be possible right now, there are many options to conduct successful interviews and get to know potential team members virtually. Here are our four key tips to keep in mind while virtually interviewing candidates. 

1. Set Expectations at the Beginning of Your Interview Process

Clarity is an essential element to ensure a successful virtual interview with your candidates. Though you might assume that being fully present and removing distractions before starting the virtual conversation is a must, it’s important to convey those expectations to your interviewee ahead of time. This can easily be done by sending a detailed email of “Video Interview Requirements” prior to your interview, so that your candidate can be prepared. This might include necessities like having a quiet room, a well-lit and professional space, and even having access to necessities like a webcam and microphone. Also, remember to relay important logistics like the length of the interview and with whom the candidate will meet. Conducting an online interview makes it much more important to be on the same page since miscommunication is easier when not in-person.

Once you and the candidate are logged into the video interview, reiterate any guidelines necessary and confirm their understanding of what is expected during your conversation. Applying this to your video interviewing practices will give you credibility and help you facilitate the conversation with clarity and confidence. Setting guidelines will also allow the interviewee to be more comfortable knowing what to expect while on the call.

Don’t forget: Ensuing you have a dependable online conferencing system is important. Check out Zoom, the tool that’s helped us conduct successful online interviews over the years. Include any instructions necessary to the interviewee on how to operate your systems. 

2. Don’t Compromise What Makes You Unique, But Be Prepared For A Learning Curve

Every person is different, and every church is different. What makes each church unique is its influence within a context and community that is unlike every other community in the world. Because of this, each church has a different set of qualities that make it able to reach their unique congregation.

When doing any type of interview (whether online or in person), your goal is always to find the person that fits your church culture best. Doing interviews online, however, can make it more difficult to connect with and read a candidate for culture-fit. One of the things we recommend is to make sure you know the values of your organization, and what you’re looking for a candidate to bring to the table.

However, it’s just as important to determine the “red flag” qualities that won’t mesh with your organization's culture or current staff members. Think about how the person who previously held the open position interacted with the rest of the staff. What qualities did they possess that worked well within your culture? What qualities did they have that didn’t work so well? Is there a trait they didn’t have that you want to make sure a new hire does? 

Once you determine your church’s identity and the requirements of the new hire, it’s important to communicate these clearly to your candidates. Remember - the new hire also needs to evaluate if your organization is a good fit for them, so be as upfront as you can about your expectations and values.

When creating interview questions, make sure you touch on these values to find out how the interviewee feels about your organization's culture. Because the interview cannot take place on your church grounds, there will be a bigger learning curve for your candidates who won’t have the opportunity to see staff interact with each other, the environment of your church, or the ability to offer sample sermons in person.

This also means there will be a potential learning curve for the pastor (or board, or individuals) conducting the interview. Everyone involved will need to have an understanding of the interview format, who is asking questions, and the technology used for the interview. This might mean practicing in Zoom, getting comfortable watching sermon samples beforehand, working from screens, etc. 

3. Be Spatially Aware

Non-verbal communication makes up 80% of all communication. At the interview stage, both the client and candidate are looking to see if there could be a potential ministry fit, but also a personality and lifestyle fit. In this season of leaning heavily into remote work, most interviews will happen virtually.

However, for some positions, such as a worship pastor, an in-person interview is more important to hear their abilities in person. It might be feasible to conduct the interview in your corporate gathering space with all the stage lights on in the background, while maintaining appropriate distance. This would allow a candidate to get a better feel for the church and an immediate feel for their potential future space of ministry. However, if this is not an option here are some tips for at home interviews: 

  1. Find a space with no distractions to conduct your interview. Make sure anyone else who lives with you understands that you need a closed door and quiet space for the entirety of your conversation.

  2. Make sure your interview room is well lit. Sitting with a window in front of you allows natural lighting that will work well on camera. Avoid sitting with a window or too much light behind you—it will turn you into a silhouette. 

  3. Make sure you have everything you’ll need with you before starting the call. This includes water, headphones, and anything else you would have with you during an in-person interview. You can even physically have something with you or in your background that highlights your church or organization. YouTubers and influencers even change their backdrops or surroundings to emphasize different subjects. Think flyers, banners, even a monitor with your logo on it. Give them a feel for their potential workplace despite not actually being there.

 4. Make Sure Everything You Need Is On Your Screen

There is nothing more evident on a video call than when someone is looking down at notes or to jot something down. If you have questions you need to remember or need to take notes, it is always a good idea to have them open and easy to access on your desktop. When you look down to read questions or to write down notes, it appears as if you are unengaged or uninterested in what the interviewee might be saying. By having your notes open on your screen, you are still able to maintain “eye contact” with your webcam and engage with the person on the other end.

This can take some time to get used to, but setting up your environment 5-10 minutes prior to your call time ensures you are comfortable and prepared ahead of time. If you have two screens, you can have notes on one and the video conference on the other screen. With many people remotely working who may not have access to a second monitor, take some time to adjust your window sizes on both your video platform and note taking document to ensure that you are able to see both.

Following these simple guidelines will equip you for a successful virtual interview so you can focus fully on finding your best candidate. Learning to conduct business online will allow you to continue operating at a normal pace and continue hiring new staff despite the unique circumstances. Showing up prepared to conduct your interview is a great opportunity to provide peace and hope to the person you are interacting with and to your organization as a whole.