Long before the coronavirus epidemic sent workforces around the U.S. into lockdown, video interviews were rapidly becoming the norm. Without the need for candidates to visit an office, they're far easier to schedule than in-person interviews. Plus, passive candidates can easily take them on a lunch break or coffee run, freeing them from "doctor's appointments" and the other usual excuses they'd have to give employers to explain their absence. Today, however, the upside of video interviewing is even bigger: it can help keep your business running while we practice social distancing.

But if your organization wasn't using video interviews before coronavirus arrived, there's no time like the present to make the switch. Here's what you need to know.

get the right tools

The first step in making the switch is identifying which platform is right for you. There's no shortage of tools available, ranging from free to feature-rich enterprise solutions. For example, anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Macbook can conduct interviews for free via FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo or Google Hangouts and WhatsApp are free for users of just about any device.

FacetimeSkypeGoogle DuoGoogle HangoutsWhatsAppZoomModern Hire

Enterprise-level solutions like Zoom or Modern Hire (which Randstad uses — formerly known as Montage), on the other hand, offer more features. Modern Hire, for example, offers the ability for interviewees to record their answers to established questions, which recruiters and hiring managers can view as their schedules allow. It also provides predictive analytics and intuitive workflows to make it clear who needs to do what at each stage of the hiring process.

So which one's right for you? It depends on your organization's needs and budget, along with your company's maturity when it comes to video interviewing. If you're a smaller company that only hires occasionally, a free tool can easily get the job done. For larger companies with more frequent hiring needs, an enterprise solution may be the way to go.

Whatever your organization's needs are, the good news is that you can move to video interviewing today at no cost — and, if it makes sense for your company, explore the more sophisticated solutions down the line.

set the right expectations

Video interviews are still interviews, and interviews should be a structured, formal process. Just because your hiring managers and recruiters may be interviewing from the kitchens, couches or decks, you need to set the expectation that these are still business critical events that need to be taken seriously.

First, remember that there's still a dress code for interviews, even if you’re working remotely. You may not need to wear a suit, but depending on what dress was required at your office (remember your office?), similar attire is still required. After all, nothing sends a candidate the wrong message than being interviewed by someone in sweats.

Next, impart some rigor to the video interview process by establishing clear workflows for everyone involved in the hiring process. Layout a process including who interviews candidates at each step, and require each interviewer to submit their notes to the next interviewer down the line before the process moves forward. These don't have to be exhaustive or formal, but by making interviewers record their thoughts in order for the process to keep moving, you'll reinforce that video interviews are a business imperative, not a novelty or a temporary solution.

get some on-camera training

Smartphones and selfies may be ubiquitous at this point, but being on camera in an interview requires skill and discipline. So set yourself up for success with this crash course in on-camera best practices.

  • elevate the camera

Elevate your cameras to eye level. Propping it up on a few books is a simple solution to prevent the dreaded double-chin look that happens when interviewers have their laptops on a desk or in their laps.

  • minimize distractions

Typical job interviews occur in private conference rooms. Video interviews can happen anywhere — and that often means distractions are in play. From noisy kids to barking dogs to pop-up notifications on the screen, these disruptions can interrupt the interview and create a negative experience for the candidate. Make sure you have a quiet, private place to conduct interviews, and disable notifications on your laptop and phone so you’re not tempted to look away.

  • set the stage

Speaking of locations, make sure you conduct interviews in a setting without a lot of visual distractions for the candidate. A white or neutrally colored wall is a safe bet, and don’t sit in front of a window or other light source. Being backlit will make you hard to see on camera.

  • practice camera discipline

Unless you had a previous career in broadcast news, you’re probably going to instinctively look at your own image on screen, rather than the candidate's. Spend some time practicing camera discipline and look only at the candidate on screen, not your own feed in the bottom corner. We're vain by nature, so of course we want to make sure we look great on camera, but not making digital "eye contact" is a bad look and will make candidates feel like you aren't listening. Camera discipline takes practice, and internal video meetings are a great way to practice.

plan for the long haul

The jury's still out on how long social distancing and non-essential workplace closures will last. Some estimates say to prepare for a couple of months, while others expect it to last for a year or even 18 months. In short, your team probably isn't heading back to the office any time soon. But growing your business means hiring must go on, and there's no better way for that to happen than via video interviewing.

Make sure your team understands that this isn't a workaround or a momentary measure. It's going to be a must for at least several more months, but the benefits of video interviewing don't have to stop when the virus wanes or a vaccine arrives (it's likely to be two years before one emerges — and that's if we're lucky).

When things go back to normal, video interviewing will still be the faster and easier way to hire, and there's no better time — or a better reason — to start using it today.