4 Interviewing Tips to Best Identify Candidate Skill Sets in a Virtual Interview

Meghan Peterson | March 30, 2021

Interviewers must be well-versed in the art of conducting video interviews.

Skill sets (def): the combination of knowledge, experience, and abilities that are necessary to perform a job.

Communication. Teamwork. Critical thinking. Adaptability. Cultural understanding.  These are the top five candidate skill sets on the must-have list.  Add these skills into your list of specific soft skills (interpersonal) and hard (teachable) skills for the position you are hiring for, and you can potentially find your ideal candidate. But how do you identify skill sets in a virtual interview?

As we have shifted to a remote work environment and fully embraced virtual hiring, it’s now more important than ever for interviewers to be well-versed in the art of conducting video interviews. During a video interview, you are looking more closely at a candidate’s soft skills, those which can’t be listed out in a resume like their hard skills.

At the end of the day, an interview is an interview, whether in-person or virtual, with the end goal remaining unchanged. However, conducting a video interview is still a bit different than when in-person, so we have put together a list of video interview tips for hiring teams to help you best identify candidate skill sets in a virtual interview.

Tip #1 –  Ask the right questions

Asking the right questions is vital in assessing whether your candidate is as good in person as they claim to be on paper. The right questions in a video interview not only allow you to verify what candidates list on paper, but also vet for critical soft skills that might not be apparent from their resume.

If you are conducting a live video interview, you can witness your candidates’ real-time answers, and if using a one-way interview, the right questions will help you find the strongest candidates by screening out the wrong candidates. To help out, we have compiled a short list of questions below that will help you assess a candidate for the top-five must have soft skills.

  1. Communication. What are you passionate about? Bonus points if your candidate chooses a passion that relates to the job. Answering with personal information will also tell you that the candidate is willing to be open in order to relate better with others. 
  2. Teamwork. Have you been a member of a team that failed to accomplish a goal? If so, after assessing, what were the reasons for failure? If your candidate frequently uses “our” or “we” in their response, you know your candidate has a teamwork mentality. This question will also give you insight into why your candidate thinks teams succeed and fail and what coaching the candidate might need in a team-driven environment. 
  3. Critical Thinking. Will you please share an experience of a time that you were asked to do something you had no previous experience doing? How did you go about that? A large part of critical thinking is being open to new ideas. Ask this question to your candidates to determine if they are open-minded and willing to listen to other’s input. Listen for strong examples on how they have embraced and/or created new concepts in the past. 
  4. Adaptability. What is your ideal working environment? Ask this question to get a feel for how well the candidate fits with your organization. And let’s be real, in a time when remote work is the norm, you need a candidate that can succeed in both an office environment and remotely so be sure to get that answer here as well.
  5. Cultural understanding. What are the characteristics of the best boss you have ever had or team you’ve been on? What about your worst one? Cultural fit is a critical factor in the success and contribution of your employees. You want to hire the candidate who not only possesses the job skills and qualifications of the position, but also is the best fit for your company culture. Look for an answer that includes a specific example or story and includes key traits surrounding your company culture. This will let you know if the candidate will vibe well with your current team.

These are just a few examples of questions that will allow you to assess your candidates’ skill sets. And here is the cool part – if you implement video interviewing technology in your hiring process, to use for both external and internal hires, the interview questions you need are provided through question banks. These questions can be broken down into role- and skill-specific categories, allowing you to focus each video interview on the skills you need candidates to showcase for the role.

Tip #2 – Focus on communication skills

When meeting a potential candidate for the first time in the interview process, a large focus should be put on communication. These skills are often rated as the most important skill by employers.

A good communicator can express thoughts and ideas in a brief and clear manner and is also a good listener. So, pay close attention to not only how they deliver content when answering a question, but also if they are answering the actual question without veering off and providing irrelevant information.

And don’t forget about role playing – give the candidate a question directly related to a scenario at your company, applicable to the role they are applying for and assess their answer. For example, ask your candidate, “How would you tell a client that you are not going to meet a deadline?”

A clear, confident answer tells you the candidate can communicate well, whereas any excuse or hesitation may tell you that the candidate avoids difficult situations and the tough conversations that go hand in hand.

Tip #3 – Master the art of body language

Body language often speaks louder than words. Go into the chat aware that not everyone is super comfortable with video interviews, so some leniency here is necessary. No matter what, prepared candidates will have practiced for the interview and this will show in their responses. 

Here are 5 cues to watch for in interviewees:

  • Observe the candidate’s tone of voice – do they sound excited to be there?
  • Does the candidate’s posture seem eager or disengaged? Eager candidates often lean forward to give answers.
  • How is their eye contact? This can be tricky with video interviews, but a prepared candidate will have practiced looking into the camera and not just at the screen. Good eye contact while they’re answering questions displays honesty and confidence.
  • Is the candidate fidgeting and touching their face or hair? This displays a lack of confidence and nerves. With this in mind, remember that some nerves should be expected in any interview.
  • Is the candidate prepared? Is the candidate reading from notes or on the computer researching during the interview? Did they declutter their interview space and choose a spot with good lighting that is quiet and free of distractions? Look for a candidate that comes to the screen prepared.

Tip #4 – Be aware of blind spots

You can’t afford to make a bad hiring decision. Your video interviewing process needs to be an objective process so that blind spots don’t lead you to hiring the wrong candidate. And believe it or not, blind spots carry over from in-person interviews to video interviews, so heads up on the following blind spots when heading into your virtual interview room:

  • Unconscious bias. Often, up until your video interview, you have had a blind hiring process. Be sure that once you are in front of the screen with your candidate, that things like age, gender, clothes or even an accent don’t affect your feedback on the candidate.
  • Non-verbal cues. Remember, not everyone is well-versed when it comes to video interviews, so some candidates will feel confident and some will not. A noisy background or cluttered environment could influence your decision. There is a fine line between an unprepared video interviewing candidate and a green one. So assess the situation closely.
  • A personable candidate. Some candidates may come across as really personable in a video interview. While video interviewing may be intimidating for some, others find that being behind a screen makes them more comfortable than in person. So don’t forget to include those behavioral questions to reveal their behavior in past work settings.

Remember, video interviewing is still a fairly new process that has become a must-have for companies working and hiring remotely. There is still a lot to learn going forward and likely more blind spots that we have yet to identify.

Start using video interviewing to identify skill sets earlier in the hiring process

Video interviewing has transformed the traditional recruitment process. Embracing the use of both on-demand and live interviews has allowed hiring teams to expand their reach and save time and money. Best of all, implementing video interviews only requires a few tweaks to your hiring process and a little bit of practice.

Identifying the candidate skill sets most important for your open position, and focusing in on the right questions and non-verbal candidate cues to find them, will send you on your way to hiring the right candidate for the role. 

And if you want to simplify your video interview process further and increase your rate of successful hires, head over to interviewstream today and speak to a client success expert about how our technology can get you there!

About The Author

Meghan Peterson is the VP of Revenue at interviewstream. She combines her experience in sales, recruiting, and tech to support customers of all sizes in her role. If you’d like to pick her brain about her advice here or simply start a conversation, feel free to give Meg a shout at mpeterson@interviewstream.com.


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