Like many of you, my company has temporarily transitioned to a completely remote work environment because of COVID-19. To address all the changes that this has caused in our remote hiring process, our talent acquisition team created a virtual interview guide to help candidates prepare for their virtual job interview.
If you’re looking to create a 100% virtual candidate experience, a virtual interview guide will be an essential tool in your recruiting strategy. This blog post will explain how we created a guide at Arcadia and how we have used it in our remote hiring process to help both our candidates, our recruiting team and our hiring partners to be more successful with virtual hiring.
First off, what is a virtual interview guide?
A virtual interview guide is a resource created by employers that are recruiting, interviewing and hiring candidates without ever meeting them in person. The guide provides candidates with important information about the processes and technologies used in conducting digital job interviews and how candidates can excel in a virtual interview setting and throughout a remote hiring process.
Your virtual interview guide can set your candidates up for success by not only helping them to be more prepared for the logistics of a virtual job interview, but also to be prepared for their interview in general. The guide can provide candidates with helpful information about your company culture and employee experience so that they can connect better with hiring managers and potential teammates through video conversations, since these candidates don’t have the opportunity to tour your office and meet your team members in person.
Why you should create a virtual interview guide
Because a virtual interview guide will make remote hiring go smoother and be more successful for everyone involved in the recruiting process! Let’s face it: we’re all learning new ways to work remotely, and most candidates will be unfamiliar with a digital interview. In addition to that, by giving candidates this resource, you’re sending an important message about your employer brand and candidate experience that you want to help candidates do their best and ace their interview.
In addition, recruiters and hiring managers can share this guide with candidates in their process and use it as a reference point themselves to deliver on a better experience. They will be able to use this guide to optimize their own technology usage and know how to communicate what’s changed about your hiring process and what your company culture is like now.
What content should you include in your virtual interview guide?
Ideally, your virtual interview guide should provide content that answers a range of questions that candidates are likely to have during their job search, given the unique situation we’re currently facing.
To start out, you might brainstorm a list of FAQs that candidates are already asking your recruiters and hiring teams and use that as the basis for developing your guide.
Here are some of the sections that we included in our virtual interview guide based on common candidate questions that we identified:
Why is this company a good choice right now?
Given all of the layoffs and economic uncertainties that COVID-19 has created, candidates are more concerned than ever about an organization’s financial position. They want to understand the stability that your organization can offer. We addressed this in our guide with an introductory section that outlines why Arcadia is positioned to continue to thrive despite the economic downturn.
What is this company doing for its employees?
Candidates want to understand the type of employer you are. And nothing defines this as much as the way you’re treating your employees right now. Further, candidates want to understand what kind of support they can anticipate if they join you during this time.
In our guide, we included information that communicates our decision to move to remote working and makes it clear that we’re a company that prioritizes employee health and well being. We want our prospective new hires to understand that they will be supported now — and during “normal” times too.
How can I land an interview?
Before a candidate can excel in your interview process, they need to actually land that interview! Even though this question isn’t directly related to remote working, it’s still one that we decided we wanted to answer for our applicants. Our guide provides candidates with tips to prepare an application package that will get them noticed, based on what our team looks for in an ideal hire.
What are the office environment and culture like?
One of the toughest questions we all need to answer right now is: how do we communicate our office culture without being able to invite candidates to our offices? After all, during a remote hiring process, candidates no longer have the opportunity to experience your lived culture through an office tour and interactions with team members.
To give insight here, we listed out all of the features of our office that we would typically show on an in-office tour (like our terraces and on-site fitness center).
We also tried to use a tone of voice in our guide that reflects our culture at Arcadia and the types of interactions that are normal to have here. Since our environment is casual, professional, and approachable, we did this by picking words and phrases that reflected this. Here are a few examples from the guide:
- “A hiring process without any office visits or handshakes — remember those? — could feel impersonal or incomplete.”
- “Arcadians are organizing virtual lunches and, in our many social Slack channels, sharing everything (but germs!) from photos of their furry coworkers, to what’s on their reading list.”
What does the employee experience look like during this time?
Let’s face it; unfortunately, we might be facing this remote work situation for awhile. Candidates know this and want to understand what their interim experience will look like. What kind of remote activities are ongoing to support culture and employee connection right now at your company?
In our guide, we tried to spotlight how our current culture has been translated to a remote work environment. We do this by showing how employees are coming together through different remote activities (like virtual lunches) and Slack channels that have formed.
Read more about three ways your employer brand can re-recruit employees during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
How can I excel during my virtual interview?
Many candidates are coming to us from a range of industries and backgrounds. As a result, many are likely wondering how to present their candidacy for a role over video. Additionally, they may also have some anxiety around the technology we’re using, so we wanted to answer any questions about Zoom; they might have to reduce some of the barriers to success.
To address this, our guide outlines lots of practical tips to ensure candidates feel comfortable and confident going into their interview — which ultimately should improve their overall candidate experience too! We really wanted to create something that would help to ease anxieties during a stressful time for our candidates.
Want to use our guide as an example of how to create one yourself? Access the Arcadia virtual interview guide here >>
Rally note: Arcadia’s virtual interview guide is just one approach you can take. Check out even more examples of virtual interview guides from top employers.
Distributing your virtual interview guide
Here are some of the ways we’ve distributed our Virtual Interview Guide to candidates that you might consider using too:
By email: When we were transitioning our hiring process from in-person to virtual, we sent out an email announcing there would be some delays in our hiring timelines as we made this switch. Once we had figured out our new approach, we sent another email out to candidates with this guide attached.
When an application is submitted: As soon as candidates submit their job applications, they also receive a copy of the Virtual Interview Guide too, so they can feel prepared if they are contacted for an interview and can learn more about our culture while waiting to hear back.
Read more about managing the candidate experience during the COVID-19 crisis.
On our careers site: We link to the guide right from the home page of our careers site, with the following messaging, “Arcadia has made the decision to operate as a 100% remote workforce for the time being to preserve the health and safety of our employees and the larger community. But we are still growing – and have digitized our hiring process to accommodate our new, yet temporary, normal. Read more about this temporary recruitment process here.”
On our careers social channels: Every so often, we’ll sprinkle this guide in with our social content for the week so that prospective candidates who follow our social networks can learn about our culture — and maybe even be motivated to apply because of the messages that this guide sends about who we are and how much we value our people.
Here’s an example of one of Acadia’s social posts targeted towards prospective candidates:
For now, we're building a 100% renewable energy future 100% remotely. But we are still growing—and have digitized our hiring process to accommodate this new, yet temporary, normal.
— Arcadia at Home (@arcadia) April 7, 2020
How to measure the effectiveness of your virtual interview guide
If you’re wondering if your virtual interview guide is actually reaching candidates and making an impact, here are some ways you can look to uncover the effectiveness of this guide:
- How many clicks are you getting on social posts that link to the virtual interview guide?
- How many clicks are you getting in emails that link out to the virtual interview guide?
- How many overall page visits are you getting to the website where your virtual interview guide is being hosted? How much time are people spending on this page?
- How many downloads has your virtual interview guide received?
- Are candidates receiving the guide and finding it helpful? You might consider adding a couple of questions to your candidate experience or applicant survey to find out and collect that information.
- Are candidates arriving more prepared to excel during their virtual interview? You can find this out by looking at the success rate of virtual interviews pre and post circulating this resource. Is the number of interviews required to make an offer decreasing over time?
In addition, it’s also a good idea to collect qualitative feedback that you receive from candidates and your hiring team about the document.
It’s still too early for our talent acquisition team to have a lot of meaningful data to share with you, but we have received a number of emails from applicants thanking us for the resource. Candidates said that the guide provided them with insight into how our company is treating our employees during this crisis, which was important for them to know.
Further to that, we’ve also had a number of people register as members (akin to customers in Arcadia speak!) as a result of this guide. Further proof that a great candidate experience can have a big impact on your business performance!
But regardless of the performance metrics that emerge from this, creating and sharing this guide felt like the right thing to do, right now. After all, this is a time when I think everyone can use a little extra support and the feeling that someone cares about what they’re experiencing.