COVID-19 is changing the way we live and work.
As a career coach, I’ve been helping people find a job for more than five years. But right now, a lot of my clients who are applying for jobs and interviewing have to completely change their approach.
In light of the spread of the coronavirus, some companies are imposing a hiring freeze. But others, like Google and Amazon, are simply switching to a virtual hiring process. If you’re looking for a new gig, most of your interviews will be video broadcast using tech services like Google Hangouts, Skype, HireVue, and Zoom.
Virtual interviews can be intimidating. They require a higher level of intentionality and the ability to get into a conversation with ZERO distractions (during my recruiting days, if I had a dime for every time a candidate thought I couldn’t hear their spouse yell into the TV, or his Child begs for a snack, I would be a millionaire).
Here are some tricks to help you be as prepared and professional as possible.
Lighting is the key
Looking professional in front of the camera is almost as important as what you say. So find the brightest area of your home and make sure the light is facing you. In other words, don’t sit with your back against a window or the interviewer will only see a blurry outline of your face.
If you don’t have a lot of windows in your room, don’t worry! Put some lamps around you to brighten it up. And record a video beforehand to see how it looks.
What to wear (and not to wear)
Video interviews are fun because you can literally wear sweaters and disguise your top half (I’ve done this before and I’m an “expert on job hunting,” so don’t feel guilty.)
Even so, you have to choose your outfit carefully. Wear a pop of color like a statement necklace or tie to stand out. Perhaps you have a “power color” that you wear that makes you feel safe.
Stay away from busy or distracting patterns. They want the focus to be on you, not what you are wearing.
The hardest part of a video call is that the interviewer can’t feel your aura or energy in person, so you really need to give it all that you have through the camera.
How does that look exactly?
For starters, smile. Make sure you intentionally ask questions that demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of the company – questions about work culture, job expectations, career development opportunities, and goals for the team are a good place to start. For example: “What should be the priorities in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?” And, “Based on my research, I have found that your company is passionate about investing in and promoting employees. Can you tell me more about the training and mentoring opportunities available?”
Making eye contact is also important, which is difficult since you are talking to a face on a screen. Create the perception Make eye contact, look at the camera as you speak, not the interviewer’s face. If this feels unnatural, move your gaze between the screen and the camera from time to time.
Here’s another tip: Correct body language in the job interview exudes self-confidence. So sit up straight and try not to fidget or cross your legs. This way your frame will fit nicely in the camera.
Even the slightest distraction can ruin an entire interview, so you’ll need to get rid of this beforehand.
Make sure there are no pets, babies, or roommates around. Turn off the TV – and your phone – And if you’re interrupted by a car alarm or something else you can’t control, say, “Sorry,” wait a few seconds for the sound to calm down, and then start right back. Trust me, this will go a lot smoother than trying to scream over the noise.
Bring some props
Write down your interview questions in a notebook that you have with you.
You should also take notes during the interview, but first ask the interviewer if it’s okay so they know that taking a break isn’t just embarrassing you.
Also, keep a hard copy of your resume handy and use it as a “cheat sheet” to explain your work in detail. Feel free to jot down some additional notes on your resume. These can be examples of what I call “hero stories” – situations that illustrate your experience as a leader and problem solver.
Also bring a bottle or glass of water as you will not be able to get up after the interview has started. And if you’re like me, you get hot when you get nervous.
Test the technology
Here is the most important piece of advice I have. Review, review, and triple-review your technology before interview.
Trust me, using the excuse “I couldn’t get my video camera working” as an excuse for being late for an interview never goes over well. Attend the interview 10 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to settle in and make sure your webcam and sound are up and running.
Headphones or earphones can help improve the sound quality if this is a problem. And ask the interviewer for a number in case the WiFi goes down or the connection goes down. Believe me it happens.