By Senior Recruiter Tina White
As organizations adjust their norms for the health and safety of their employees and communities in light of coronavirus, they are revisiting how they conduct candidate interviews. In some cases, they will conduct virtual (online) interviews, using services such as Zoom or Skype. We don’t know if this will result in permanent change, but we want to make sure that you are prepared for the shift (even if it’s temporary) to phone and/or video interviews
Rest assured, we want to keep hiring world-class talent and we understand that adaptation is key.
TBC encourages you to prepare for a “virtual” interview in much the same way you would prepare for an in-person interview, with a few extra steps.
Set up and test your technology.
Whether your interview will be conducted using Skype, Zoom or some other video conferencing service, it is important to test your technology to ensure that you’re set up for success.
First, be certain to use the correct technology.
A desktop computer with a camera built into the monitor is best. A laptop with a camera is second best. Please do not try to use your cell phone to interview for a career-changing position.
Be sure to check your internet connectivity and confirm that your camera and microphone are working. Make sure your signal strength is strong. If it is not strong enough to be reliable, you may want to consider moving to another part of your house for a stronger signal. If you have the option to be connected via a wired ethernet connection (versus Wi-Fi), that would be preferable.
If you haven’t used videoconferencing tools before, don’t worry. They are very reliable. Before your interview, ask a friend to participate in a test run with you from their home computer. Even if you’ve done a video interview or webinar at work, remember that it’s going to be different at home. Make sure you can be heard clearly over your microphone. Familiarize yourself with the service, including how to mute/unmute the microphone and how to change the screen settings so that you are able to see the entire panel of interviewers in a line or grid of squares. It pays to take the time to be comfortable with the technology. You will be better prepared to respond to the interviewers, and the panel will see a candidate who is nimble and flexible.
Set up your space and minimize distractions.
Where should you be for the interview?
The space should be clean, quiet and well-lit. Ideally, find a room with great lighting, perhaps near a window. Having a blank or quiet wall as your backdrop can guarantee that you are the focal point of the conversation. When you do your test run, be sure to look at the background behind you. Is there a pile of laundry in the corner? A messy stack of papers or books that is visible? A very busy wallpaper or painting? Be certain your space is clear of such things.
Prior to the interview time, turn off the TV. Silence your cell phone. Close windows (and doors if you can). Keep pets in another room. If you frequently have packages delivered, you might consider leaving a note on your front door asking people not to ring the doorbell. Some pups really like barking when the doorbell goes off!
Some of this may be harder to orchestrate when your spouse or partner is working from home and school has been canceled for your children. Properly preparing them may be as important as preparing yourself.
Dress for the part.
Dress just as you would for an in-person interview and bring your A-game. Your appearance matters! You will feel more confident and perform better during the interview if you are dressed professionally.
What you wear may show up differently on video, so you might want to avoid patterns, bright colors or big jewelry. If you wear a solid color blazer that creates contrast with your background, it can help the interviewer’s eyes gravitate to you and stay focused on you during the interview. Also, be sure that your bottom half matches your upper half, in case you must get up during the interview. In other words, yes, please do wear bottoms – but not pajama bottoms!
Have your reference materials ready.
Print out a copy of your resume. Have it in front of you, along with any notes that you’ve prepared. You don’t want to read your answers, so bullet point prompts or talking points are best.
Practice and watch your body language. You can’t shake your interviewer’s hand, but you can sit up straight, smile and keep the camera at eye level. Be certain to greet everyone in the room that you can see.
If you keep your focus on the *camera* when you are talking (not on the image of the person interviewing you), then you will be making eye contact and this will help create connection.
At the conclusion of the interview, behave just as you would if you were in the room.
Again, thank and acknowledge everyone. Do not be the first to hang up unless you are instructed to do so (just as you wouldn’t be the first to stand if you were all in the room together).
Follow up on a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person interview. A handwritten and mailed thank you note to each panelist is always a welcome gesture. An email is also acceptable.
Now, wait for the phone call from TBC or your target agency, letting you know that you’re a finalist for that coveted position! As always, the team at TBC will continue to provide stellar support throughout the recruitment process by keeping you informed. You got this!