How to Conduct a Virtual Pharma Job Interview

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 9 Feb 2021

Tips on Conducting a Zoom Job InterviewIf you’re a Life Science recruiter or hiring manager, then there are some extra things to consider when conducting an interview online; particularly in terms of preparation, making your candidates feel at ease and assessing how they conduct themselves without being in a room with them.

We’ve put together this list of key things to consider when interviewing a candidate online, with advice that should help you to get as much out of a Zoom job interview as you would from a face-to-face interview.

Preparing for the Interview

Regardless of whether you are new to the process of interviewing online or not, it’s a good idea to follow these steps prior to conducting your interview:

  • Test your microphone, camera and internet connection – You don’t want to delay the interview by having to fix technical issues or tweak settings.
  • Find a quiet space – Background noise can be really distracting for a candidate, especially if this starts while they’re midway through answering a question, so give them a quiet space to answer your questions to the best of their ability.
  • Find a space that’s well lit – Candidates often rely on reading a recruiter’s facial expressions and body language to gauge how well their answers are being received, so make sure the room you conduct the interview in allows them to do this.
  • Allow yourself extra time – To account for any potential technical difficulties on either end, maybe schedule in some extra time for the interview, especially if you’re conducting multiple interviews in the same day.
  • Send over full details on how the candidate should join the interview – Include any links and passwords they need and give them instructions on how to join the call. It’s better to assume that they haven’t used Zoom before than assuming they know everything about it.
  • Give the candidate an alternate way of reaching you – Consider giving the candidate a phone number they can reach you on so they can let you know if something goes wrong on the day.

Building Rapport with the Candidate

One of the key differences between online and face-to-face interviews is that in a face-to-face setting there is more opportunity to build rapport through small talk; for example, when walking the candidate to the interview room from a waiting area or shaking their hand and helping them to sign in.

Before diving straight into the interview, consider doing the below to make the candidate feel more at ease:

  • Ask the candidate if this is their first online interview.
  • Ask the candidate if they can hear/see you well enough or if you should make any adjustments.
  • Use icebreaker questions before getting on to the detailed questions, as starting off with things they know will help settle them into what could be a new situation.

During the Interview

Forming a first impression of the candidate over Zoom can be harder than in a face-to-face setting as it’s harder to gauge how well the candidate carries themselves in a professional environment. However, below are some key things you can take note of:

  • Did the candidate log in on time?
  • What did they wear?
  • Had they prepared for the interview by familiarising themselves with Zoom?
  • Did they find an appropriate space for the interview?
  • Did they maintain a good level of eye contact throughout the interview?
  • Did they show they were interested and engaged in what you were saying?

Although the candidate might be joining you from the comfort of their own home, they should still be showing the level of professionalism that would be expected from them in a face-to-face interview, so these are really great ways of assessing this.

After the Interview

As finding a job is particularly stressful at the moment, it’s a good idea to let the candidate know exactly what to expect from you after the interview has finished, with information about the next steps and time frames.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. If your company is still experimenting with finding the best ways to interview and onboard candidates remotely then why not ask the candidate how their experience was? It’s a great way to find out what does and doesn’t work and to think about how things could be improved.


Visit PharmiWeb's Recruiter Blog for more tips and advice on recruiting within the Life Sciences, and to stay up to date with the latest industry news.