Four Tips to Conduct a Successful Virtual Hiring Interview

January 25, 2021
Whether you are an experienced doctor of optometry or a recent graduate applying for your first position, settle your nerves by asking the right questions.
Person using laptop to perform virtual job interview

Safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed doctors of optometry to develop creative alternatives to their standard hiring processes. Optometric practice owners and hiring managers across the country have transitioned to conducting interviews virtually, allowing them to interview a broader pool of applicants from locations nationwide. However, virtual interviewing poses its challenges. Whether your practice has taken advantage of virtual interviewing for years or virtual interviewing is brand new territory for you, there are some things you can do to make the most of your interview and find the right candidate for your practice.

  1. Familiarize yourself with your chosen platform – There are several free and affordable web-conferencing platforms available to practice owners, including Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting. No matter which platform fits your needs best, it is important to familiarize yourself with the conferencing functionality to prevent unnecessary frustrations during the interview. Performing a trial run with a staff member can help you feel more comfortable and focus on determining whether your interviewee is the right fit for your practice.
  2. Prepare extra questions – In an in-person interview, it is often easier to get a feel for a candidate’s personality than it is during a video-conference. It is important to remember that employers and candidates often have similar goals in mind. Optometric practice owners are often looking for a long-term hire to help grow the practice, and interviewees are often looking for practice they will enjoy spending the duration of their career in. Adding a few extra questions that revolve around hobbies, interests, family, or community involvement can help create a sense of rapport and help you get a better idea of what the potential incoming optometrist might be like in person and how they might fit into the culture of your practice.
  3. Pay attention to body language – Body language offers great insight into a candidate’s personality and enthusiasm during an in-person interview. Because video-conferencing often offers a very limited view of body language, both hiring ODs and OD candidates should maintain awareness of what little body language is visible. As an employer, you can set the tone for the interview by ensuring you are engaged in the interviewing optometrist’s responses and offering visual cues that indicate your interest, like leaning forward and nodding. Avoid looking at other screens or tabs, as it is often easy for a candidate to tell when your eyes are not focused on the video image. These are visual cues you can also look for in your interviewee to assess their engagement through the duration of the interview.
  4. Be understanding – Video-conferencing is a new territory for many optometric practice owners and candidates alike. Keep in mind that even the most prepared interviewee may suffer from technical difficulties, and it may be necessary to delay or reschedule your interview. An interviewing optometrist may not have the opportunity to participate in a distraction-free environment, so it is important to be understanding of children, spouses, or pets that may pop up unexpectedly in the background. If any of these challenges arise, express your understanding verbally and assure the candidate you are familiar with obstacles that come with virtual interviews. This will help to calm the candidate’s nerves so you both can focus on determining whether they meet the needs of your practice.

Despite its challenges, virtual interviewing has created a unique opportunity for practice owners to meet a greater quantity of qualified optometrists who come from a variety of backgrounds. By approaching virtual interviews as assets rather than obstacles, you can better position your practice to find the perfect fit.

Still looking for the right candidate to interview? AOA members receive up to 50% off of posting packages with the AOAExcel Career Center. Learn more.

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