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Three Ways to Select the Best Candidates Without In-Person Interviews

image credit: © Crossstudio |

The “candidate experience” is something you should be thinking of. It is what candidates see, feel, and perceive of an employer based on their interaction through the entire recruitment lifecycle from initial contact to onboarding (or even if they don’t get a job offer).  As you approach the candidate experience, if you lay the right foundation, it will become second nature to you and your team. Mapping your candidate experience can take away a lot of the guesswork in whether candidates will accept your invitation for an interview, and down the line, your potential offer.

The interviewing process has become more complex of late; you may find your organization using more video interviews or going through most of this process virtually or remotely. There are distinct benefits of remote interviewing, especially on cost and time for both your team and the candidate. The flip side of saving time is that in-person touches are not possible and many teams forget to put in the effort to make up for this change.

At this early stage of the candidate experience, it will be important to keep the top talent you are looking for engaged. Here are a few key ways to improve your virtual candidate experience:

  1. Focus on the relationship. Doing this at a distance means finding new ways to stay connected. Your team involved in hiring can find a process to check in with the candidate at regular intervals through the process. Asking how the interviews went, being clear and proactive about next steps and how long each step will take, and sharing what their level of effort at each step will be. This will build trust and show the candidate what kind of organization they will be joining if they accept an eventual offer.
  1. Optimize your tools. Video interviewing is extremely helpful, whether you are mass recruiting and want to speed-interview or are meeting a senior executive ‘face to face’ for the first time. There are some wonderful tools available in the market to facilitate a virtual experience. The first hurdle is ensuring you’re technically set up so that your video and audio are easy to join and work consistently. You would be surprised how much time is wasted on poor connections and the kind of impression it leaves when the first portion of your interview is spent troubleshooting! The second part of this equation is training your recruiting and hiring manager teams to use the tools smoothly. If they are comfortable, it greatly enhances the candidate experience, and theirs too!
  2. Keep “success” practices. Your company is likely no stranger to hiring. Your success has been mapped to practices that work for your company. As you spend more time interacting with candidates remotely, consistency is critically important. Find ways to create the same touchpoints you have for candidates that come into your office. Ensure your recruiters and hiring managers have positive stories to share about your company, and that they are prepared to talk about how your company makes money and any media coverage they may have seen recently. Consistency in your recruiting practices, virtual and in person help to ensure you are not losing great talent for your organization by having vast differences in how the candidate connects with you and your team.  

Increasing your virtual candidate experience may be daunting at first. While there is excitement about ushering in a new era of interviewing where you no longer need large blocks of time, or a big space with tons of hiring managers and recruiters spending hours meeting all candidates at once, there is much to lose if you don’t follow this guidance in a way that is meaningful for your team. With the guidance in place above, you can further improve the virtual candidate experience by keeping speed of decision-making top of mind.

Once you meet candidates virtually, evaluating them with hiring managers can be expedited, especially if you ask consistent questions at the interview. Hiring managers can watch a portion of interviews and stop videos early if they see the candidate is not a fit. It would be very rude and bad for your brand to cut an interview short if the first response is not desirable. With a virtual candidate experience and pre-recorded video interviewing, you might get 10 hours of interviews from 10 candidates but be able to vet them in as little as two hours. Circling back within the timeframe you clearly communicated to the candidate about your decisions makes a big difference! Everyone who interviews for your company deserves a response within a reasonable time with your decision to move forward or thank them for their efforts and decline.

The virtual candidate experience can help you scale quickly. Coordinating interviews with candidates from any quiet, comfortable location they can find will often be much faster than coordinating travel time, working around their current role if they are currently employed, and reduces the risk for travel delays. Interviewing candidates that a vendor may be providing to you for part-time, or short-term contracts may be effectively done through this method, and can also give you a chance to provide more input and feedback to the types of skills you’d like your candidates to have for roles where the ideal candidate hasn’t been fully described (or met yet). Workers who are part of the gig-economy may also prefer video interviews to help them secure pieces of work and enable them to be in any location to get it done, while allowing your hiring managers to get a sense of the candidate.

Regardless of the scenario, your virtual candidate experience should showcase your employer brand in its best light. Good planning, clear expectation setting, and proper follow up and closing out of candidates is expected and often lost when you move to a virtual experience. Being out of sight should not lead to candidates feeling like they are less important. It is up to your team to invest in building relationships and communicating in a way that reflects your brand that will ultimately matter most. As hiring practices evolve and candidates have more influence because the job market is positive, having an outstanding virtual candidate experience will be a differentiator for your company and leave candidates walking away feeling good about meeting you and wanting to receive an offer from you.

Jeremy Eskenazi's picture

Thank Jeremy for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 28, 2020 4:18 pm GMT

Great insights, Jeremy-- thanks for sharing. I have two quick questions:

1- Do you see the current pandemic and shift towards all sorts of virtual meetings as having a long-term impact of more companies shifting to virtual interviews more quickly than they had been planning on (if they even had been planning on it)?

2- Are there any unique considerations to this virtual interviewing journey for the utility industry compared with other types of companies? I imagine each industry would come with its own unique set of challenges and advantages to this kind of change

Jeremy Eskenazi's picture
Jeremy Eskenazi on Apr 28, 2020 6:33 pm GMT

Matt... thanks for your feedback and your questions.

1. Yes, absolutely- the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in companies and organizations accepting virtual interviews far more quickly than they were before COVID-19. Already, many companies were adopting video interviewing pretty quickly, but there was a lot of pushback from some hiring managers feeling as if they would not want to make a hiring decision off a video interview. But because we are now forced to use video interviewing, the immediate impact is far more acceptance. Now, organizations are even using virtual interviewing and never even meeting anyone in person and making offers and virtually on-boarding employees. In the future, I expect a much wider adoption of virtual interviewing, far less requirements for candidates to come to in-person meetings, radically reducing or eliminating the high stress/cost of candidate travel for interviews, and the use of virtual on-boarding. This change was happening already, but the pandemic really caused organizations to be forced to use these methods... and I am finding that many organizations are becoming far more accepting than they thought.

2. Utilities have some unique hiring practices that may involve testing, assessments, and even pre-employment practices that may require physical exams, etc. These things certainly might be able to be digitized and made virtual (especially testing, assessments, etc.), and some that are not able to be made virtual (pre-employment physicals, etc.). However, I think that some of these things were already happening before the crisis. For example, there are validated assessment tools and testing that could be done using online software and tools. Many employers, including utilities, etc., do use some form of pre-employment testing/assessments... but I think that this can be done virtually. I have some healthcare clients now that are doing all of the interviewing, pre-employment testing, licensing certification, and pre-employment background checking-- all virtually now... they never thought that it could be done. This seismic change is opening up the eyes of organizations to really look at their processes to see how we can do things most efficiently, safely, and effectively.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 28, 2020 9:06 pm GMT

Terrific-- really appreciate your thorough response, Jeremy!Interesting to hear that some of the changes towards virtual hiring practices were already well underway at utilities. Sounds like this will be an exciting area to keep an eye on in the coming months and years

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