Navigating Now & Beyond: How to confidently manage online interviews (Amiqus)

By Amiqus

The hiring process as we know it has changed quite dramatically. When you can’t meet a candidate face to face, how can you ensure they still get a sense of your company culture and are attracted to work for you? In turn, how do you confidently assess their skills and values to make a decision?

We’re seeing some great things happening with online interviews since lockdown started, but we also know that remote interviewing is causing some hirers to question their ability to make decisions virtually. This period of adjustment, although unexpected, can be a great opportunity to focus on your interview techniques, your questions, interview structure and on ways to share your culture when someone can’t see you and the studio in person. Here are some things to consider.

 

First up – get the basics right

This may seem obvious, but make sure you agree in advance with the candidate on the platform you want to use for the interview, and make sure they’re able to access it and are comfortable with it. Give them instructions on how to use the platform; don’t assume. Let them know what to expect in terms of who they will be speaking to, what the dress code is and what types of questions might be asked. Taking the time to help candidates with all of this will not only help it go more smoothly for all involved, but it says something about your professionalism and processes - how easy you make it for others and how much you value new recruits and are invested in their success.

 

Preparation

Lack of preparation and poor organisation is all the more obvious when you’re conducting video interviews. We’ve had this feedback from candidates already over the past few weeks, when recruiters seem to be ‘winging it’ during the interview. Not a great impression. Your candidate will expect you to lead the interview and you should be prepared to do just that. Be sure of your role and be confident in yourself. Have your questions ready in advance. Also, remember that you are the first person they associate with the company, so it’s crucial you create the best impression.

 

Ensuring an unbiased approach

Every hirer knows that bias is something you want to avoid at all costs. Questions of religion, age, family or economic status have no place in an interview and yet, video interviewing someone in their home suddenly brings all of that very much into the mix.

In general, research has demonstrated that unstructured interviews — which lack defined questions and where a candidate's experience and expertise are meant to unfold organically through conversation — are often unreliable for predicting job success.

On the other hand, structured interviews - where each candidate is asked the same set of defined questions - standardise the interview process and generally minimise bias, especially if an interview scorecard is used to grade candidates' responses to each question on a pre-agreed scale. This takes preparation and a real understanding of what the role requires, usually something we expect to see from a mature and confident hiring process. The prep is worth it when hirers are able to compare candidates fairly, rather than through ‘gut feel’ - which is typically where bias persists.

 

Be clear on what areas you’re assessing

Is it skills, leadership, emotional intelligence, their values and beliefs and alignment to your studio, or perhaps whether they’re a problem solver or critical thinker, a strong communicator?

Once you have agreed on what is being assessed, decide how you will get the best evidence of what you’re looking for – will there be a technical test? A white board exercise? A number of interviews with different people?

Who will be best placed to assess each area of the role, what is the decision-making criteria for each stage and who, ultimately, will make the final decision. Set out the plan, have questions prepared and stick to the road map to make sure you cover everything systematically. If you need some inspiration on what to ask, check out our question bank blog..

If there are multiple interviewers, make sure you offer a diverse pool of people for the candidate to meet, and potentially interview as a panel. If the interview is structured and clear on what each person is covering, it will be less intense for the candidate, and it will also give you time to listen, think and make notes. In a panel interview, on or off line, it’s best for one of the interviewers to take charge of managing the interview from start to finish. This person can guide the interview by giving each person an opportunity to speak and making sure that the candidate doesn’t feel rushed. 

 

Share your culture in new, creative ways

Without being face-to-face it’s impossible for you to show the candidate around or introduce them to people as you go. While you could be forgiven for thinking these are all just niceties, this part of the process helps to paint a picture for the candidate and helps them get a feel for your culture.

 

Although the role may well be what interests them in the first place, your culture and the way you make them feel will get a candidate excited about joining. So how can you share your culture with them at the moment? What’s online about your business, beyond your website. Is there somewhere that you share photos or interviews with your team? Do you have an Insta account or any recent press articles that you can share? Are there videos or photos of team events, things that you may need to curate from your current team to demonstrate your culture and team personality to someone new.

 

Remember to highlight your company culture – and the positives that have emerged across your studio during lockdown. We know that people are still looking for new positions across the games industry – and particularly those who are not getting the support and flexibility from their current employers during this time. So, make sure that you discuss how you are supporting your staff, any virtual meet-ups you’re hosting to keep team members in touch with each other, and any other initiatives you have in place.

 

Make time for small talk!

It’s very easy with digital meetings to forget about small talk. Face-to-face you would naturally have time to chat and introduce people, find out more about them. We’ve seen great examples of real social elements added to the interview process that make sure clients get to know candidates socially as well as professionally. Not quite a Zoom quiz with family, but something that can potentially replace a team lunch if that’s important to you before a final decision is made. Make it part of your digital process too.

If you feel that your interview process pre-COVID 19 was a little unstructured or could do with a bit of a refresh, this is a great time to review and change it up. Take time to reflect on the needs of the roles you’re hiring for, be clear on what you need to evidence, how you’re going to gather this evidence, who to involve to ensure a diverse set of viewpoints and the best methods to use to make fair and unbiased decisions. If you can do this remotely, then when we can meet each other again it will stand you in good stead. 

 

About Amiqus

We started Amiqus back in 2000, with a mission to take our love of the games industry and combine it with our experience in recruitment to help more people find the right job, at the right time. So armed with bags of enthusiasm, and truck loads of coffee, we got cracking building relationships, creating networks and defining our own unique approach to recruitment.

17 years on and we’re pretty chuffed that we’re in a position to connect skilled and passionate candidates with the right studios in the gaming industry who share their values and vision.

We are proud to have won many industry awards over the years, we’re happy that people appreciate the work we do.

Navigating Now and Beyond

This is part of our Navigating Now and Beyond in partnership with Sports Interactive series - guest articles and guides providing technical and practical advice for games companies to navigate working now and beyond the current Covid-19 crisis. 

Find more articles at our Navigating Now and Beyond hub here.