online interview

Online Interview Scripts for Seamless Hiring

By Jamie Davidson · February 5, 2020

Remote work is a trend that continues to gain popularity. Today, more companies are turning to video interviews to connect with candidates. Online interviewing introduces a different dynamic to the hiring process. One that can quickly turn uncomfortable if you aren’t prepared to engage in this way.

We’re here to help! And make your interview process go smoothly and successfully. Let’s find you the right new hire!

Having video conference interview scripts at the ready can minimize awkward pauses and enable you to help candidates feel more comfortable, more quickly. It also creates a consistent process – equalizing the candidates. For additional hiring via video conferencing tips look no further than “How Video Conferencing Improves the Hiring Process”.

The specific scripts you create will vary based on the positions you’re hiring for. Regardless of whether you are in HR, the CEO, or a manager these interview script templates provide a helpful starting point to kick off your candidate search. Let’s get started.

Online Interview Preparation

Before you start your online interviews, take time to optimize your environment for video conferencing. All the scripts in the world won’t save your interview if it’s disrupted by excessive background noise, an unprofessional environment, or malfunctioning technical equipment.

Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your next video interview:

  • Make sure your office is clean, quiet, and professional. Do a test run with a colleague in advance to be sure the noise levels in your chosen area are appropriate and that there’s nothing in the background that could be distracting. Though, I’d work for any company that has a “Hang in There” cat poster on the wall!
  • Test your video conference software in advance. Make sure you are familiar with your computer’s audio and video settings and the features of your video conference service.
  • Use a trusted video conference solution. There may be plenty of free options out there, but they may not be reliable or of good quality. Sticking with a trusted provider ensures there are no hiccups when it’s time to start your interview.

Scripts for Any Online Interview

Beyond preparing your video interview environment, having scripts developed in advance and tweaked over time will help your hiring sessions go as smoothly as possible. Here are several to add to your arsenal.

1. Company overview script

Candidates will want to know what working at your company is like. Even if they don’t ask directly. Having a prepared company overview script can be useful for kicking off initial interviews. Poll some of your employees about why they work for your company. This way you get an unbiased and authentic characterization of your business and the work environment.

Additionally, important elements to include here are who you are, your role, and what your team environment is like. Here’s a sample script to work with:

We are a _____________ company that specializes in _________________. We are unique because _________________ . And we value _______________. Today, we are looking for a candidate who __________.

For example:

“We’re a growing financial services consultancy that provides wealth management services to high net-worth individuals and families. Although we work at a high level, we don’t see ourselves as stuffy or exclusive. Instead, we see ourselves as helpful partners to our clients, and we look for team members who are able to provide a warm experience to a clientele that expects excellence in every area of their lives.”

2. Framing the online interview

Based on the type of interview you’re conducting you may need to consider various scripts. However, if you’re asking background interview questions, you may not need a script – an interview question bank will likely do. Check out “Asking the Right Interview Questions in Today’s Competitive Workplace” for ideas and inspiration

If you’re asking behavioral, scenario, or competency questions, it’s to your advantage to be more prepared with a script. With behavioral or scenario-style interview questions such as, “Describe a situation where you had to deal with a problem you didn’t create.” you’ll want to script out not only the question itself but the way you’ll present it so that candidates know how to answer.

Introduce these types of questions by saying:

“There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. What we’re most interested in learning is how you’d handle different situations on the job at our company.”

Competency questions are another type you’ll want to script in advance. Generally speaking, competency questions attempt to determine whether or not candidates have the required experience or knowledge to be successful in your position. For instance, if you’re hiring for a developer role, present a coding problem for the candidate to solve.

In this case, using a script will ensure that your instructions are communicated clearly. Everyone should receive the same information so that no candidate is inadvertently given an advantage over another.

3. Answering online interview FAQs

It’s important to ask your candidate if they have any questions. Motivated candidates come prepared. They know that the caliber of questions they ask will be taken into consideration.

Fortunately, many candidates draw from publicly shared lists of good questions to ask in an interview (see above!). Therefore, you can prepare answers ahead of time by developing scripts that position your company in the best possible light.

A few common questions candidates may ask include:

  • What are your expectations for the role?
  • What qualities are needed for success in this role?
  • What challenges are facing the company?
  • How do you see the company growing in the future?

Consider drafting a response script for each of these, as well as for any questions you are asked frequently. As an example, script a response for the question, “What challenges are facing the company?”

As a side note, if there’s been any perceived negative coverage of your company recently, expect that savvy candidates will find it. Have a script prepared that honestly outlines what happened and the steps you’ve since taken to resolve the issue.

As an industry _____________. This influenced our company because _____________________. We overcame this challenge by ___________________.

“As you’ve probably seen on the news, manufacturing companies like ours have been facing challenging conditions over the past year. We’ve been able to navigate these challenges successfully thanks to the strong relationships we have with clients. But we do expect the person in this role to help us continue to look for ways to deliver top-tier service in a cost-effective way.”

4. After the online interview: Next steps scripts

Finally, when you’re wrapping up your interviews, it’s considered a good practice to leave candidates with an understanding of what’s next in the hiring process. Avoid fumbling for a response. There are three different scripts to use depending on how you want to proceed with the candidate.

An open-ended script – when you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll move forward with a given candidate

Leaving the next steps following a video interview informative but open-ended is generally considered to be a best practice. This gives you the flexibility to respond once you’ve finished all of your interviews and are able to make decisions based on a full data set. Here’s what this might look like in practice:

“We’re currently evaluating multiple candidates for this position. We expect to narrow down candidates to a group of 2 or 3 finalists within a week. These candidates will be asked to come into the office for an in-person interview in the next few weeks. We hope to extend an offer by the end of the month. We will get back to you by [date] with an update on our process.”

A script for candidates you’d like to move forward with

Committing to move a candidate forward to the next round immediately after the online interview can put your company in a vulnerable position. After all, no matter how excited you are about a prospect, it’s possible the next candidate will be more qualified. You won’t know until you’ve completed the full round of video interviews.

However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you genuinely feel you’ve found the best fit for the open position, a script like the following can be useful:

“We appreciate your time today and would like to move ahead to the next stage of the interview process. We anticipate bringing a group of 2 or 3 finalists into the office for in-person interviews in the next few weeks, with the hope of extending an offer by the end of the month. Does that work for you?”

A script that lets a candidate know you won’t be moving forward with them

Again, since it’s a better idea to follow-up with candidates after all online interviews have been completed, this isn’t a script that you will use frequently. That said, if a candidate truly isn’t the right fit for the position or cannot be considered – possibly due to lack of required experience or licensure – giving a definitive “no” provides immediate closure for the candidate and limits required follow-up for you.

Here’s what this might look like:

“We want to thank you for your time today. However,[for this reason] we aren’t able to move forward with you as a candidate at this time. We recommend keeping an eye on our website’s careers page for future opportunities that may be more appropriate. Thank you for your time today. We wish you all the best in your job search going forward.”

Your Online Interview Script Library

For best results, think of the scripts above as a starting point. Customize them to your organization’s needs and the open position you will video interviewing for. Create your own script library and have everyone who conducts interviews add to it. With time, this resource will make video interviewing as pain-free and effective as possible.


Related Articles

Inclusive Workspace

Managing Multi-Generational Teams: Why Cross-Generational Mentorship Benefits Business

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliches: GenZ’ers have no interest in any history prior to their existence. Millennials don’t have a strong work ethic. GenX’ers...

Inclusive Workspace

The Workplace Diversity Advantage

Diversity. The word has been tossed around a lot lately. In Hollywood. In government. And in business. But, it’s more than a buzzword, a quota to achieve,...

Inclusive Workspace

Getting Rid of Groupthink 

On the morning of January 28th, 1986, 9-year-old me entered my 4th-grade science class at Summit Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. This was a...