How to successfully conduct an interview during the COVID-19 lockdown.

It’s no lie that businesses have slowed down these past few months. With more and more companies being forced to furlough their staff it’s hard to see how any business can think of hiring right now.

But businesses are keeping going, there is still work to be done. We have noticed some companies and business owners reaching out to us after having the time to reassess their growth plan for 2020/21 and get prepared for when we return back to ‘normal’ work.

It is also a great time to find candidates as people have the time at home to push forward on their job search. Having already successfully placed a handful of candidates during the past few weeks, we noticed a few issues that cropped up. People weren’t prepared for conducting interviews remotely. 

We spent a lot of time supporting both candidates and clients on this so thought it would be beneficial to share our experiences and provide you with tips and tricks to make sure your interviews run smoothly.

  • Phone screening
  • Pre-recorded interview
  • Phone/video conference interview



(Man during a phone screening interview)

Phone Screening

Before offering a candidate an official interview, it’s always worth speaking to them before for a casual and friendly chat to find out more about them, what experience they have had previously and what it is they are looking for. As a recruitment agency we have a series of questions we run through with potential candidates to help us establish whether they are right for you before we present them back to you. 


  • A more casual chat allows the candidate feel relaxed
  • Gives you a quick understanding of why the candidate is looking for a new opportunity and what interested them in your company.
  • Quickly establish whether they are a good fit skills wise.


  • Not enough detail to prove is someone is fully competent
  • Take a while to screen a lot of candidates to shortlist interview options


(Man recording answers for pre-recorded interview)

Pre-recorded Interview

Consider supplying the candidate with the questions you would ask them in the interview. This could help you get around any technical difficulties and allows you to play back their answers and really take in what they say. However, having a structured list of questions does not allow for you to ask for more information if the candidate hasn’t elaborated on their answer.


  • Get around technical difficulties that could arise on the day.
  • Allows you to relisten and reabsorb the candidates’ answers.
  • Opportunity to ask them further questions if they have missed anything


  • Don’t have the chance to ask the candidate to elaborate on their answer.
  • Less personable as not a natural conversation. 
  • Structured list of questions so not flexible if the candidates answer inspires you to ask a new question.


(Man on video call for an interview)

Phone/Video Conference Interviews

We have worked with a number of companies who have taken their interview process either online or via phone conference which have resulted in successful hires. There are many great video conferencing softwares out there including Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. We use Microsoft Teams here at Tonic as it is part of our package with Office 365. You can find out which is best for you in the resources linked below. 

Before conducting the interview there are a few things to consider:

  • Test your technology — Make sure your internet connection and video conferencing program are both working well prior to your interview.
  • Be prepared — As with any interview, familiarize yourself and other interviewers with the candidate’s resume and the job description to give the virtual interview the formality of an in-person one. Likewise, keep the candidate informed on who they’ll be interviewing with so they can prepare questions of their own. And, of course, make sure whatever technology you are using is working properly.
  • Communicate openly — Keep candidates well-informed at each stage of the interview process. Without being able to give them a warm, in-person reception, it’s especially important to show them their time and efforts are valued.
  • Be personable — Make eye-contact and generally engage with the interviewer to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role (if video teleconferencing).
  • Remove distractions — Be respectful to the candidate and position yourself away from distractions, including your cell phone, as you would in an in-person interview.
  • Reinforce employer brand — Ensure interviewers at all stages of the recruitment process convey a consistent message about your agency’s mission and values.
  • Give the candidate time — Pause to ensure the candidate is done with their response, before moving onto the next question to account for time lags and lack of usual social cues.


  • Quicker
  • Cost saving
  • Displays candidates ability to communicate online
  • Less pressure on candidates


  • Not as personable
  • Potential technical issues
  • Lack of IT savviness


Remember – the hiring process takes time so get started now.

Reach out to recruitment agencies with your job plan. The hiring process usually takes longer than one expects. To find skilled candidates takes time to resource and lead times can vary anywhere from 2-4 months. 

Start your process now, reach out to some recruiters who can be working on resourcing candidates ready for you to review when we are back in our offices.

Lewis Lawes
Lewis Lawes

Lewis Lawes started their careers with one of the most internationally respected energy recruitment consultancies where they partnered with pioneering companies across the sector and received industry leading recruitment training…