Today’s workforce is more global than ever before — and that means you won't necessarily always bring candidates in for an on-site, face-to-face interview. Instead, more and more hiring managers are using tools like Microsoft Teams meetings to conduct interviews. In fact, one survey found that 23% of hiring leaders plan on transitioning to all virtual interviews. Microsoft Teams is popular for businesses, as over 500,000 organizations use it as their primary messaging platform.
A video interview can be much more convenient for both job seekers and hiring managers alike, especially if multiple team members will join the call.
Of course, an enjoyable virtual job interview can greatly improve the candidate experience. On the other hand, a haphazard video call with internet connection failures and other issues could make them think twice about working with you.
By following some key guidelines for success, you can have confidence that your Microsoft Teams interviews will be just as successful as in-person interviews.
How to Set Up a Microsoft Teams Interview
To schedule an interview in Teams, go to the calendar button on the left side of the app. Click on “New Meeting,” and then select a time range.
This will open up the scheduler, where you can fill out meeting details and add people to the meeting. Since the interviewee isn’t already part of your organization, you’ll need to go to “Add required attendees”, type in their full email address, and click “Invite.” When you save the meeting, all invites (which include the video link) will be sent automatically.
You can also schedule a Teams interview through Outlook. To do this, switch to Outlook’s calendar view, then click on the “New Teams Meeting” button. Give your meeting a title, a start and end time, and then add attendees’ email addresses. Clicking “Send” will send the invitation and the video link.
Anyone who receives your invitation can join the interview by clicking on the meeting link. Those within your company can also open the meeting through the Teams app, while your interviewee would use the browser version. The browser version of Microsoft Teams is free, and doesn’t require users to download an app or create an account.
Best Practices for Conducting Microsoft Teams Interviews
Scheduling a Microsoft Teams interview is one thing — but it’s only the first step. By adequately preparing both yourself and the interviewee for a successful virtual job interview, you can help everything go smoothly.
1. Ensure Everyone Has the Right Technology
Even though video calls are more and more common, you shouldn’t just take for granted that a candidate has the right technology to participate in a video call. With so many people now working from home, it’s common to use personal equipment and space for work. Offering to provide technology or even a day pass to a remote working location for the interview can help employers to show they’re flexible and invested in accessibility.
Ideally, your candidate will have a laptop or smart phone with a quality webcam as well as a strong internet connection. Headphones can also help you and the interviewee to reduce echo and background noise.
When you send a calendar invite for a Microsoft Teams interview, explain what technology they will need for the interview, as well as how long the call will take, who else will be on the call, and any other necessary details. Remember that they may not be familiar with Microsoft Teams, so let them know that they just need to click on the link to access the meeting!
Let them know to reach out to you if they have questions or concerns.
2. Choose a Professional Setting
Face-to-face interviews are often conducted in a private office or conference room. The same care should be taken by each member of your organization who will be participating in the virtual interview. Everyone should be in a quiet, well-lit room — and preferably a private room where others won’t be able to interrupt.
Ideally, choose a room where you will be lit from the front, rather than the back. Front lighting reduces dark shadows and provides a flat, warmer light. If you have a window at your back, your face might be in shadow, making it harder for others on the call to see you properly.
You can help the candidate better focus on you if you place yourself in front of an empty wall or another non-distracting background. You can also use Teams’ “Background blur” feature to help others focus on you.
3. Prepare as If You Were Doing an In-Person Interview
While virtual interviews can be more convenient for recruiting coordinators and job candidates, they can easily feel impersonal and rushed. This can reflect poorly on your organization and how seriously you are considering a candidate.
To avoid this, dress the same way you would if you were conducting the interview in-person (even if you’ll do the call from your own home). This helps give a professional appearance that sets the tone for the interview and reflects on your entire team. Looking directly into the camera during the call can also help foster a sense of having a face-to-face connection.
People are very prone to distraction during video calls — with one survey finding that 55% of workers admit to checking email during these meetings. Don’t let yourself be part of that group! You need to give the candidate your entire focus. This helps them feel valued and helps you evaluate if they’re a good fit.
To reduce the risk of distractions, make the video call full screen and set your Outlook account to “Do not disturb” so you won’t get any notifications during the interview. Clearing your desk of everything but note-taking materials can also help.
4. Be Prepared For Potential Delays
Even when both you and the candidate have strong internet connections, some lag and delay is inevitable. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself accidentally talking over the candidate. This can get confusing, especially when trying to ask follow-up questions or share your screen.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to avoid this problem: Wait one to two seconds after the candidate finishes talking before you respond or ask your next question. While this may feel a little strange at first, it will help prevent giving the impression that you’re interrupting the candidate or other team members.
Similarly, when screen sharing, wait a few seconds after loading an image, web page, or presentation slide to give it time to load for others on the call.
5. Have a Back-up Plan
You never know when technology problems might happen. Your interviewee’s laptop battery could die, or a storm could cause your internet connection to go out. No matter how unlikely these things might seem, prepare a back-up plan. For example, rescheduling your Microsoft Teams interview for a later date or switching to a phone interview can keep you and the candidate from scrambling if something goes wrong.
For example, Prelude Coordinate can help with rescheduling by giving you a full view of team members’ movable and unmovable meetings. That way, you can quickly set up a new interview time if needed.
It’s also a good idea to log into the meeting early to test your camera and microphone. This way, you can resolve any issues before the call starts. Logging in early will also make sure you’re available to welcome the candidate as soon as they join the call.
Microsoft Teams Can Streamline Your Interview Process
Microsoft Teams interviews can help streamline your interview process and make it easier to reach top candidates from across the country. By giving interviewees a quality video interview experience, you can level up your talent acquisition game.
With Prelude, you can make Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools even more useful. Our platform makes interview scheduling headaches a thing of the past. Our streamlined, flexible interview scheduling functionality provides a more engaging candidate experience, so you can enjoy successful interactions that boost your employer brand and reduce friction for interview candidates.