life sciences virtual interviews

Virtual Interviews, from the hiring manager’s perspective

By Paul Canelas

The pandemic has affected us all in many ways, from our shopping routines to our entertainment options, but it has also impacted how we work and search for new career opportunities.

Virtual interviewing has come a long way in the last 10 years, from a time when recruiters asked prepared questions via webcam, and shared the recordings with hiring managers to pare down the applicants. In today’s staffing world, a large majority of professionals get hired without meeting a single manager or coworker, making the online interview critical.

In this exercise, I reached out to hiring managers and asked them what specifics they look for in the virtual interview process, beyond the skills needed to do the job. Here are some of the key points they shared:

Be prepared and prompt

One of our clients has a very strict policy of immediately ending the review if the candidate does not have a good internet connection. They share this information with all candidates ahead of time and their reasoning is twofold; if you cannot take the time to secure a strong signal, then this interview is not that important to you. Also, how can you conduct meetings or calls for work with a faulty internet connection?

Another good tip is to be on time for the call, and make sure to communicate with the hiring manager if there is a reason you can’t be. There are always exceptions, especially in this COVID world if you have kids home, etc. – they do understand and might even have some of the same issues. 

Conversation skills to master

Managers also tend to prefer candidates who avoid providing long, drawn-out answers to questions. There should be a balance of providing succinct information needed to satisfy the question, versus providing too much information. 

Another manager shared that they really look for someone who is engaging and does not need the interviewer to drag information out of them.  This does not mean the candidate needs to carry the conversation, but hiring managers like to see people who not only answer the question asked, but provide anecdotes and ask follow up questions. These kinds of conversational skills show that a candidate  will be able to work in a team environment. This is true for virtual or in person, but you must be even more engaging when someone is hiring you without any in-person connection.

Honesty goes a long way

Managers appreciate honesty in admitting to things you do not know or have not had the experience with yet. While this tip is true for both virtual and in-person interviews, it’s worth a reminder since the long-distance nature of virtual interviews may tempt interviewees to detach from the truth. 

For example: If a candidate has never experienced a colleague conflict; but they are asked to describe how they deal with such an issue, it’s best to tell the truth while providing feedback on what they might do if presented with the situation.  

Keep your eyes on the screen

One manager, who I have known for years and represented for interviews, always stresses to know your resume. Think about it: can you go through your whole CV and answer any question about the document? Nothing will hurt your chances like not being able to speak to your own experience (and it happens more than you think). During a video conference, you really want to engage with the hiring manager instead of constantly having to refer back to your resume.

Interviewing is never easy, but hopefully you can utilize some of these virtual interview tips and walk away from the experience feeling great – and land the job!

 About the Author:

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Paul Canelas

Paul has been in the staffing industry for 25 years, currently as a Director of Recruiting & Business Development. The last 11 years has been focused within the pharmaceutical space, specifically in Biometrics. 

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