Congratulations! You’ve made it past the first and most difficult phase of job searching - you’ve secured an interview. You’ve already surpassed more than 80% of the competition so give yourself a pat on the back. But now what can you expect? We are living in unprecedented times. Covid-19 (coronavirus) and social distancing has added a layer of complexity to getting to know your future employer and their culture. What can you expect from an interview and how do to put your best foot forward?
Depending on the position, you most likely will get an in-person interview eventually, but first a recruiter or recruiting manager is going to schedule a phone call or video interview.
- Find a quiet, private, well-lit place, free from possible interruptions.
- Ensure your internet connection is stable.
- Check that your computer’s audio is working.
- Test your computer’s webcam. Have a good look at what's in the video frame. Keep your background as distraction free as possible. No need to go Marie Kondo but remove any clutter that may distract from your conversation.
- Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications.
- Have a look at yourself on camera. Dress professionally and avoid bright colors. Yes, you can be weekend on the bottom and office on the top if your camera is focused on your head and shoulders. FYI – Zoom has a filter to soften those Netflix-binging bags under your eyes.
- Have a pen, notepad, copy of your resume and prepared questions you want to ask within arm’s reach.
- Place your phone on silent mode.
- When listening, nod and smile to show you are engaged. Use hand gestures when appropriate.
- Close with a solid understanding of next steps and timelines.
- Always follow-up with a thank you note. Reiterate a point you made with new supporting facts or recall a piece of the conversation or critical skill. Keep it short, sweet and error-free. It is remarkable how many candidates never follow-up.
In person Interview:
- First and foremost, if you feel ill, been out of the country within the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has been infected with Covid-19, reschedule the interview or request a video interview. They will appreciate your candidness.
- Upon arriving at the office or coffeeshop, go to the nearest washroom and wash your hands.
- Greet the interviewer by name and ideally let the interviewer take the lead - does she offer her hand, elbow or wave? Be prepared this will be awkward as we are all conditioned to shake hands so offering a foot or elbow will not be a graceful act. If she does offer her hand – it’s your call – shake or not shake - there is no harm in declining with a polite “no thank you”.
- With the pleasantries over, it’s time for you to get to work. Have a copy of your resume and relax.
- If you need time to think, ask for time or ask her to repeat the question.
- Offer up real examples. Think STAR (situation, tasks you identified, action(s) you took and the results).
- Ask your questions, which you have prepared in advance. Ask questions to help you decide if this is a company you want to work for. Ask how they have responded to the Corona outbreak? How are they supporting their employees? Look around, is the office clean and well cared for?
- At the interview, there will likely be another awkward moment when you leave. Again, follow their lead.
- When you get home, send a thank you note recalling a key message you want to repeat and reiterate your interest.
Interviewing in these days of social distancing is not so different than before. It’s important to be professional but relaxed, and be ready to put your best foot forward (and tap if necessary).