Challenges of virtual interviews

Sensitivity to context

In the current context, most people are working from home, some with limited space, and often balancing work with increased care or homeschooling responsibilities.   Be sensitive to this wider context and allow candidates time to settle in and ‘transition’ to interview mode.

Reduction in non-verbal cues

In a virtual interview situation, less information is available to interpret what people say, particularly if the technology set-up is less than perfect. Whilst many of us make allowances for the lack of cues in our normal social and digital interactions, the stakes are much higher for all parties during recruitment interviews and this should be borne in mind when considering a candidate’s overall performance.

Building rapport

Interviewers should pay particular attention to building rapport with the candidates. This can be achieved by taking time to introduce the panel members.  It can be useful  to pay attention to non-verbal communication such as eye contact and body language however this is not always a true indicator of good rapport  The chair of the selection committee should manage the conversation to allow space for participants to make their points.


The flattening of the interaction and reduction in cues can affect the impression we make on one another, particularly when meeting for the first time. Participants can mitigate these effects by speaking at an appropriate speed and with clearer diction than normal (without overdoing it), and manage their professional appearance on screen by dressing as they would normally for an interview and blurring their background to avoid distractions.

Working with technology

The better the technology, the more effective it will be. This requires planning and preparation to ensure that the appropriate software, hardware and broadband connections are in place, especially when there may be heavy demand. If candidates may be disadvantaged by technological limitations (e.g. slow broadband or no webcam, requiring them to do the interview on a smartphone) or if you cannot make adequate adjustments for their disability, consider whether there are any alternatives that might suit them better, e.g. an audio-only phone call.

See our advice on setting up remote recruitment here. It may be useful to review our guidance on event management for virtual conferences and events here.