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How to Make Skype Interviews as Accurate as In-Person Interviews

April 26, 2016

iStock_000025394406_Small.jpgIs it possible to conduct an accurate interview via Skype? Many of today’s candidates don’t always live in the same city where the job they’re applying for is. This presents a challenge for hiring managers who want to be able to interview qualified candidates in person, but don’t want to spend the money and time to bring them in for an in-person interview. A lot of companies are turning to Skype (or something similar) to conduct an interview that is more telling than a phone interview, but is more cost-effective than paying for the candidate to travel for the interview.

Does Skype work, though? We think it can. The keys to making Skype interviews effective are:

  1. Use a structured behavioral interview process

  2. Train the interviewers

Structured Behavioral Interview Process

Having a structured process is vital for any successful and legally defensible interview, but it becomes even more important when you’re using a non-traditional interviewing method like Skype. There are three key components of a structured behavioral interview process:

  1. Gathering Background Information
    This phase of the interview usually comes at the beginning. Once you decide to do a Skype interview with a candidate, they have typically already been screened. Even so, gathering more information about their work history is a good way to confirm what’s on their resume and to ask about any red flags. In order to make the most of this part of the interview, preparation is important. Make sure that you have reviewed their resume (and previous interview notes from the process, if possible) and have 2-3 questions or areas you want to focus on.

  2. Motivational Fit Questions
    Motivational fit has to do with how well the candidate fits in terms of their interests and desires in a position aligning with the target role, as well as the organizational culture. This section typically comes towards the beginning of the interview also. Simple questions such as, “Tell me about the one job you’ve had where you enjoyed the actual work the most” can tell you a lot about whether or not the candidate would be a good fit for your open position. For example, if s/he says that the best part of the job s/he liked the most was that there was a lot of travel involved, and you know that your position will have no travel, this may be a negative for the candidate. After hearing this, your next step would be to inform (or reiterate) to the candidate that the position will not have any travel involved, and ask them how they feel about this.

  3. Competency Questions
    Competency questions should be the meat of your interview. What are competency questions? They are questions that probe into specific characteristics that are important to the job, and help you discover how the candidate has behaved in past situations. Attention to Detail is an example of a competency. If this was important to the role, you would want to ask questions that get at the candidate’s Attention to Detail by asking them to describe a situation in a past job where this played an important part in what they were doing. During this section of the interview, you are trying to collect complete examples of previous situations so that you have a full picture of how the candidate has demonstrated the competency in the past.

Train the Interviewers

Interview training is so crucial because it ensures that the standard process that you’ve put in place will be used consistently. You could have the best interview guide in the world, but if your interviewers don’t know how to use it, the guide becomes meaningless. This is even truer when you’re using something such as Skype. If the interviewer isn’t prepared and comfortable with the interviewing materials, the interview can more easily become jumbled and derailed.

Download our eBook about the importance of training your interviewers

Getting back to our original question – is it possible to conduct an interview over Skype? Follow the steps outlined here and you will see that it is. Of course, making sure that you have tested the technology before the interview is also a key part of being well prepared and ensuring that the interview goes smoothly.

Interviewer Tips

Rose Keith Rose Keith is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. Rose manages selection process implementation projects and works with clients to ensure that these processes are working well. She also manages, develops, and delivers training programs, both externally and within PSI.