Virtual interview tips for employers and applicants
Excerpted from page 42 of the July/August 2021 edition of AOA Focus.
Virtual interviewing increased out of necessity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but doctors of optometry are finding that taking their hiring process virtual has allowed them to connect to a broader pool of applicants from locations nationwide.
Bob Kehm, managing director of AOAExcel®, has overseen the AOAExcel Career Center—an online resource where doctors of optometry seeking new opportunities can connect with employers—since 2015. In an excerpt from AOA Focus, Kehm explains how employers and applicants can conduct and participate in successful virtual interviews.
Tips for employers
What is the best video-conferencing platform for conducting a virtual hiring interview?
There are several free and affordable web-conferencing platforms available to practice owners, including Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and GoToMeeting. Rather than focusing on which platform is the best, choose the platform you are most comfortable with and familiarize yourself with the functionality of the program. Performing a trial run with a staff member can help you feel more comfortable and prevent unnecessary frustrations during the interview.
How can a hiring doctor get to know an applicant’s personality without interacting in person?
By preparing a few extra questions regarding the applicant’s hobbies, interests, family or community involvement, you can create a sense of rapport and get a better idea of how they might fit into the culture of the practice.
What characteristics or behavior should a practice owner look for when conducting a virtual interview?
Just as with in-person interviews, body language can offer great insight into a candidate’s personality and enthusiasm. Although virtual interviews provide employers with a limited view of the applicant’s body language, you can assess engagement by paying attention to whether the applicant is leaning in, nodding, smiling, etc. Eye contact also provides clues as to whether the candidate is focused on the interview or if they are distracted by other screens or tabs.
How can an employer help ease the tension during a virtual interview?
Create an open and friendly dialogue from the start. Make it clear that you understand a virtual interview may come with additional challenges, but you are happy to navigate those challenges with the candidate and address any questions or concerns at any point during the interview. Even the most prepared candidate may experience technical issues or struggle to create an environment free of interruptions, and it is important to empathize and verbally express understanding.
Tips for applicants
How can an applicant prepare for a virtual interview?
Work to create an environment that is clean and well-lit with few distractions. Be prepared to answer questions about your career goals and interest in the practice, just as you would with an in-person interview. Because hiring doctors are often looking for a long-term fit for their practice, it is important to do your best to let your personality shine through—which can be a challenge during a video conference. Consider recruiting a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview to help you get comfortable in front of the camera and get feedback on how you come across on camera vs. in person. Lastly, maintain open communication with a potential employer. If there are any concerns about the technical aspects of the interview or if you are unable to secure a quiet, distraction-free location for the interview, share these concerns with the hiring doctor and work to develop a resolution that satisfies both parties.
What can you do during a virtual interview to get a sense of what the practice is like?
One challenge is that you cannot walk through the practice to get an idea of its culture and what daily operations might look like. By asking skillful questions about the role of support staff, the backgrounds and interests of the current doctors, and the technology used within the practice, you can develop a clearer picture of what your future might look like in that practice.
It’s important to remember that while the interview is guided by the hiring doctor, the best way to gain insight into whether the practice will be a good career fit is to consider what you’re looking for in terms of career trajectory and workplace culture and prepare questions that will help you envision your future in the practice—even if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit in person.
How can an applicant make a lasting impression during a virtual interview?
Stay engaged throughout the interview. While it isn’t possible to firmly shake a potential employer’s hand or easily convey enthusiasm through a screen, you can make up for this by sitting up straight, smiling and maintaining eye contact throughout the interview. Asking follow-up questions about the practice during the interview is another way to demonstrate engagement and interest.
The most important thing to remember is both hiring doctors and those looking for a new career opportunity share common goals and challenges during the interview process. By focusing on building a connection and remaining patient, doctors can use virtual hiring interviews as assets to help them broaden their search and find the perfect fit for their practice or for their next career move.
Employers: Post a position and gain access to the AOAExcel Career Center’s resume database. AOA members can save up to 50% when posting with the AOAExcel Career Center and have access to personalized assistance from the AOAExcel team.
Job seekers: Connect directly with employers, search for new opportunities nationwide and set up alerts to be notified in real time when positions in preferred locations become available.
September marks Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, the only formal observance dedicated to honor optometric practice staff. Three ways for doctors to honor their staff and for paraoptometrics to advance their careers.