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Online interview questions and answers

Do you use video calls to interview candidates as part of your hiring process? These examples of online interview questions will help you screen candidates to determine who to invite to an in-person interview.

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Online interview questions

Why conduct an online interview with candidates

Technology advances have made it easier for companies to interview candidates online by using simple tools (e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts or Hirevue.)

Online interviews with candidates help hiring managers:

  • Save time when interviewers and candidates are in different locations
  • Identify deal-breakers during initial hiring stages
  • Evaluate communication skills, particularly for roles where speaking abilities are key
  • Clarify resume details and get to know candidates
  • Provide instructions for skills assessments as part of the interview process
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Here are some sample interview questions to ask candidates during a video interview:

Example online interview questions to ask candidates

  • What inspired you to pursue this career?
  • Do you prefer to work on a team or individually? Why? Give me an example or two in either scenario from your experience.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • When is the earliest you would be able to start?
  • Why did you decide to apply for this position? How can help our team achieve its goals and what do you hope to learn from this role?
  • Describe a challenging work project you completed. What were its obstacles, what did you do to overcome them and how did this experience help you grow?
  • Explain how you use/used X software in your current/last job.

Tips to conduct an effective online interview

  • To schedule an online interview, follow the same guidelines as an on-site interview. Inform the candidate of your availability and set a specific day and time that works for you both. Make sure to give candidates necessary information, like the name of the interviewer and estimated interview duration.
  • Give candidates clear instructions about the process. Exchange account information if you’re conducting an interview via Skype or send candidates a link to log into the interview. If you and the candidates are in different locations, point out correct time zones to avoid confusion.
  • For your online interviews, choose a quiet corner in the office or a private room that blocks out noises and distractions. Set up your equipment well before the interview starts. Also, conduct a sound check to ensure your camera and microphone work well.
  • Try to focus on the camera instead of your screen, so that it appears as if you’re speaking directly to the candidate. Maintaining eye contact through a computer screen is challenging. Taking long, detailed notes will require you to look away from the camera. That might make candidates feel uncomfortable and unfairly impact their interview performance.
  • If you want to send candidates an assignment, keep the relevant file in an easily accessible folder on your computer. Or, if you want to show them a presentation, practice screen-sharing before the interview.
  • Instead of briefing the hiring team about the video interviews, you could record the calls. In this case, make sure you obtain candidates’ permission first. It’s best to inform them through email and get written consent for the recording to avoid legal consequences.

Red flags

  • Lateness or absence. Candidates who are interested in the position will log into the interview or respond to your video call during the scheduled time. If something urgent has come up, they will let you know as soon as possible and suggest rescheduling the interview.
  • External noises and distractions. Creating a quiet environment without distractions is essential for a successful online interview. People walking by, ringing phones and cluttered backgrounds take your attention off the candidate. The level of preparation around these obstacles speaks volumes about your candidates’ professionalism.
  • Casual behavior or appearance. Online interviews should remain professional. Casual expressions (e.g. “Hey!”, “Huh?” and “Say again?”) and unprofessional dress code indicate that candidates don’t take the interview – and possibly your company – very seriously.
  • Visible discomfort. It may be easier to break the ice during a face-to-face interview, but eventually, candidates in an online interview should be able to express themselves and speak naturally about the role and their experiences. Being reserved, mumbling and providing one-word answers are red flags, particularly for roles that require strong communication skills.

Read more: The best interview questions to ask candidates

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