Attracting Top Talent in the New Normal: How to Conduct Virtual Interviews in the Plastics Industry

The plastics industry is no stranger to adapting to change, but the global pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work and virtual recruitment. As video interviews become the norm, hiring managers face new challenges in assessing candidates’ skills, cultural fit, and potential. However, with the right strategies and techniques, virtual interviews can be a powerful tool for attracting top talent and building strong teams.

Virtual interviews offer many benefits for plastics companies, from reducing travel costs to expanding the candidate pool. But they also require a different approach than traditional face-to-face meetings. How can you create a welcoming and engaging virtual environment? What questions should you ask to evaluate technical expertise and soft skills? And how can you showcase your company culture and values through a screen?

In this blog post, we’ll share insider tips on how to prepare for a seamless and professional video call, build rapport with candidates, and make informed hiring decisions based on virtual interactions. Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a hiring manager new to virtual interviews, this guide will help you stay informed and attract the best and brightest to your plastics company.

How to Prepare for Conducting a Virtual Interview

Just like in-person interviews, virtual interviews require careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and effective process. However, the virtual environment adds some unique considerations and challenges that hiring managers must address. Let’s cover the key steps to setting the stage for successful virtual interviews in the plastics industry:

Step 1. Choose the right video conferencing platform

With so many options available, your first task is selecting a reliable and user-friendly video conferencing tool that meets your needs. You should consider ease of use, security features, recording capabilities, cost-effectiveness, feedback, customization, and compatibility with other devices. 

The most popular choices out there include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet, HireVue and Spark Hire. We’ve collected all the data you need to pick the best one for your needs:

 

Video Conferencing Tool

Purpose

Key Features

Pros

Cons

Zoom

General-purpose video conferencing

High-quality video and audio, breakout rooms, screen sharing, virtual background

User-friendly, easy setup, recording capabilities

40-minute limit on free plan, security concerns, requires download

Microsoft Teams

Team collaboration and communication

Integration with Microsoft Office, Together Mode, chat, file sharing

Seamless integration with Microsoft tools, robust security features

Learning curve for non-Microsoft users, fewer features on free plan

Skype

General-purpose video conferencing

Instant messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, call recording

Wide user base, accessible via web browser, live subtitles

Inconsistent video and audio quality, less intuitive interface

Google Meet

General-purpose video conferencing

Integration with Google Workspace, live closed captioning, noise cancellation

Easy to join via web browser, unlimited meeting duration

Requires Google account to host, limited customization options

HireVue

Video interviewing and hiring

On-demand interviews, assessments, AI-driven insights, ATS integration

Purpose-built for recruitment, comprehensive platform, data-driven hiring decisions

More expensive, requires training for interviewers, AI-driven assessments may feel impersonal

Spark Hire

Video interviewing and hiring

Live and pre-recorded interviews, collaboration tools, ATS integration

Designed for recruitment, offers free plan, integrates with HR platforms

Less suitable for group interviews, steeper learning curve, advanced features only on paid plans, one-way interviews less engaging

 

Little tip here: if your plastics company conducts a high volume of interviews or wants to streamline its recruitment process, HireVue, Spark Hire or other purpose-built tool may be valuable additions to your tech stack. However, if your primary focus is on live virtual interviews and you don’t require the advanced features, general-purpose video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Google Meet may suffice.

 

Step 2. Test your technology and equipment

Technical glitches can be frustrating and disruptive during virtual interviews, so it’s crucial to test your setup beforehand. Check your internet connection, camera, microphone, and speakers to ensure they are working properly. Do a trial run with a colleague or friend to familiarize yourself with the platform’s features and identify any potential issues. Make sure you have a backup plan, such as a phone number to call, in case of technical difficulties.

 

Step 3. Create a professional and distraction-free environment

Your virtual interview space should be clean, quiet, and well-lit to create a professional impression and minimize distractions. Choose a neutral background or use a virtual background if your platform offers this feature. Avoid cluttered or messy spaces that could distract the candidate or reflect poorly on your company. If you’re working from home, inform your family members or roommates about your interview schedule to avoid interruptions.

 

Step 4. Prepare your questions and materials

Virtual interviews require the same level of preparation as in-person interviews, if not more:

  • Develop a structured set of questions that assess the candidate’s technical skills, experience, and cultural fit. 
  • Review the candidate’s resume and portfolio ahead of time and prepare specific questions related to their background. 
  • If you plan to use any additional materials, such as case studies or presentations, have them ready and easily accessible during the interview.

 

Step 5. Communicate expectations and details to candidates

To help candidates feel more at ease and prepared for the virtual interview, provide them with clear instructions and expectations beforehand. Share details such as the interview duration, format, and platform, as well as any specific requirements or requests. Encourage them to test their technology and find a quiet, distraction-free space for the interview. By setting expectations upfront, you can help reduce candidate anxiety and ensure a more productive interview experience.

Conducting the Virtual Interview: Tips and Techniques for Engaging Candidates

With the stage set and preparations complete, it’s time to dive into the actual virtual interview. Conducting a virtual interview requires a slightly different approach than an in-person meeting, as you’ll need to work harder to establish rapport, assess nonverbal cues, and keep the candidate engaged. Here are some tips and techniques to help you conduct effective and engaging virtual interviews in the plastics industry.

 

  1. Start with a warm welcome and introduction

Begin the interview by welcoming the candidate and expressing your appreciation for their time and interest in your company. Introduce yourself and any other interviewers, and briefly explain your roles and the interview structure. Take a moment to establish rapport by asking the candidate how they’re doing or if they have any questions before you begin. This helps create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere that puts the candidate at ease.

 

  1. Maintain eye contact and positive body language

In a virtual setting, eye contact and body language are still important for building a connection with the candidate. Look directly into the camera when speaking, as this creates the illusion of eye contact. Sit up straight, smile, and nod occasionally to show that you’re engaged and listening. Avoid looking down at your notes or multitasking during the interview, as this can come across as disinterested or unprofessional.

 

  1. Ask clear and concise questions

Virtual interviews can be more mentally taxing than in-person meetings, so it’s important to keep your questions clear, concise, and relevant to the role. Use a mix of behavioral and situational questions to assess the candidate’s skills, experience, and problem-solving abilities. Avoid asking overly complex or lengthy questions that may be difficult to understand or answer in a virtual format. Give the candidate ample time to respond and ask follow-up questions as needed.

 

  1. Use visual aids and screen sharing effectively

One advantage of virtual interviews is the ability to share screens and use visual aids to enhance the conversation. If you’re discussing a specific project or product, consider sharing images, videos, or presentations to help illustrate your points. This can make the interview more engaging and interactive for the candidate. Just be sure to practice using the screen sharing feature beforehand and have your materials easily accessible.

 

  1. Address any technical issues calmly and professionally

Despite your best efforts, technical issues may still arise during the virtual interview. If you experience audio or video problems, remain calm and professional. Apologize for the inconvenience and take a moment to troubleshoot the issue. If the problem persists, suggest switching to a phone call or rescheduling the interview. By handling technical difficulties gracefully, you demonstrate your adaptability and problem-solving skills to the candidate.

 

  1. Provide a strong closing and next steps

As the interview wraps up, thank the candidate for their time and reiterate your interest in their qualifications. Provide a clear outline of the next steps in the hiring process, including any additional interviews, assessments, or decision timelines. Encourage the candidate to ask any final questions or share any additional information they feel is relevant. End the interview on a positive note, expressing your appreciation for their participation and enthusiasm for the role.

Post-Interview: Evaluating Candidates and Making Decisions

After conducting virtual interviews with potential candidates, the next crucial step is to evaluate their qualifications, skills, and fit for the role and your plastics company. Making informed hiring decisions based on virtual interactions can be tough as you can’t trust your personal guts. But with a structured approach and clear criteria, you can identify the best candidates for your team. 

 

  1. Debrief with your interview team

If you conducted the virtual interview with other team members, schedule a debrief session to discuss your impressions and feedback. Share your notes and observations, focusing on the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall fit for the role. Discuss any concerns or red flags that arose during the interview and compare the candidate’s responses to your predetermined criteria. Collaborating with your team can help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s potential.

 

  1. Review interview recordings and materials

One of the benefits of virtual interviews is the ability to record the session for later review. Take advantage of this feature to rewatch the interview and catch any details or nonverbal cues you may have missed in real-time. Pay attention to the candidate’s communication skills, enthusiasm, and ability to think on their feet. Additionally, review any materials the candidate provided, such as their resume, portfolio, or work samples, to assess their qualifications and experience.

 

  1. Evaluate candidates against established criteria

To ensure a fair and objective evaluation process, assess each candidate against the same set of predetermined criteria. These criteria should align with the key requirements and competencies of the role, as well as your company’s values and culture. Consider factors such as technical skills, industry experience, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and teamwork. Use a scoring system or rubric to rate each candidate consistently and avoid relying solely on subjective impressions.

 

  1. Consider the unique aspects of virtual interviews

When evaluating candidates based on virtual interviews, keep in mind the unique challenges and limitations of the format. Some candidates may struggle with technical issues or feel less comfortable in a virtual setting, which could impact their performance. Be mindful of these factors and avoid penalizing candidates for circumstances beyond their control. Instead, focus on the content of their responses and their overall potential to contribute to your team.

 

  1. Make data-driven decisions while trusting your instincts

While it’s essential to rely on objective data and established criteria when making hiring decisions, don’t discount the value of your instincts and intuition. If a candidate’s qualifications and experience match your requirements, but something about their communication style or attitude doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. Your instincts can often pick up on subtle cues or red flags that may not be captured in a rubric or scorecard. Combine data-driven insights with your professional judgment to make well-rounded decisions.

 

  1. Communicate decisions and provide feedback

Once you’ve made your hiring decisions, promptly communicate the outcome to all candidates, both successful and unsuccessful. For candidates you wish to move forward with, outline the next steps in the hiring process, such as additional interviews, reference checks, or job offers. For candidates who were not selected, provide constructive feedback on their strengths and areas for improvement. Offering feedback demonstrates your professionalism and helps candidates grow in their careers, even if they weren’t the right fit for your current role. Besides, they’ll mention your company in case some friend of theirs is looking for a job in the plastics sector.

 

The rise of virtual interviews isn’t more than just another obstacle to overcome for plastics employers. By focusing on the key aspects of successful virtual interviews, such as choosing the right platform, preparing your team, and creating a welcoming candidate experience, you can turn this challenge into an opportunity to streamline your hiring process and attract top talent.

 

Are you struggling to adapt your hiring process to the virtual world? Do you find it challenging to conduct effective video interviews that truly showcase your company culture and attract top talent in the plastics industry?

At Plastic Executive Recruiters, we understand your pain and are here to help. Our unique four-step method, backed by the longest guarantee in the industry, ensures that we find the perfect fit for your team. From creating a strong search foundation to providing guidance on hiring and retaining top talent, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Contact Plastic Executive Recruiters today to learn how we can help you master the art of virtual interviews and build the team you need to succeed.

Ed Keil

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