The Times They Are a-Changin

Times have changed to say the least due to Covid-19 and lockdown…and with it comes the need to change the way we approach an interview.

Author: Pauline Travers

While companies are still interviewing, the way in which they are interviewing has had to adapt to our current situation. Companies are now interviewing over Zoom, Microsoft Team and Skype. These forms of interviewing have become more popular and allow companies to continue recruiting and moving their business requirements forward.

We in turn have to adapt to this new way of interviewing and doing business, but, it can be quite daunting as we are so used to interviewing face to face, making that all important handshake (is it to firm/too floppy!), keeping eye contact during an interview, smiling, sitting up straight…some of these key points that we take for granted and do naturally can be transferred over to an online interview.

There are numerous advantages to moving job interviews online:
• The need to meet face to face is removed.
• Online interviews are more readily organised and attended within a shorter space of time.
• There is less pressure on candidates to attend a location for interview.
• If you are currently working it is easier to take time off for an interview…no need to use the excuse that you’ve to bring your car for its NCT!
• For companies it is easier for them to screen candidates efficiently.

So, you’ve been invited for an online interview. What do you do next?

Download and ensure you are familiar with the app that will be used for the interview. Go online and become familiar with the app…how do you login, do you need an account?

If you aren’t familiar with the proposed app, do not wait until just before the scheduled interview time to download it. Each app has slight variations so make sure you are familiar with the particular one you will be using for the interview. You will be emailed a personal meeting link and access code. Keep it safe as you will need this to log into the interview.

There is no harm in practising an interview with a family member or friend and recording your rehearsal! Practice some of the regular interview questions, you know the ones…what motivates you, where do you see yourself in 5 years, tell us about yourself? But also practice some of the dreaded behavioural interview questions…What is the most difficult / challenging situation you’ve ever had to resolve in the workplace? Tell us about a time when you failed?

Lights, camera, action
Lighting is important…try sitting in front of a window with the screen propped up on books if necessary so you are eye level with the interviewer. No one wants to interview your armpit, chin or forehead!

Pick a good spot the day before, preferably without your communion photos or anything too distracting in the background. Even walk around with the camera on your phone/laptop on while you are looking into it so you can see what the backgrounds look like. Don’t wait until right before the interview to discover it looks like you are interviewing in the middle of a jungle because you’ve so many plants around you!

Remove any distractions
Silence anything that could interfere with the interview including your phone and email notifications on your computer. Make sure the neighbour’s kids that are playing out on the trampoline cannot be heard on the call, lock the door of the room you are interviewing in just in case! Close all programs on your computer or laptop…not only to avoid pop-ups or notifications but so that you avoid a slowdown of your operating system than could affect the app video and audio feed.

Check the audio and video is working before the interview and how to switch them on!

Sit up and dress professionally
It’s time to peel off the pyjamas and put on something more professional. Yeah we’ve all done the calls where we’re professionally dressed from the waist up and wearing shorts or leggings and slippers from the waist down! Make the effort to look the part.

Smile, smile, smile
Just like you would if you were doing the interview face to face. Yes we are all finding it hard at the moment and we might not have a lot to smile about but just for this hour paint on your biggest smile!

Stay calm
Run cold water over the inside of your wrists (and sure you might as well give your hands another wash as it has been 30 minutes since you last washed them!). The cold water can reduce cortisol levels, release endorphins and bring down your heart rate, all of which can help stop a panic attack in its evil little tracks.

Cheat, yes cheat!
I mean be prepared! Have your notes and cue cards ready…this is the one time you will be able to have them in an interview but don’t constantly refer to them or flip paper around in the interview. But have a few notes that you can glance at if you need to. If you carefully place it below the camera’s view you can occasionally reference it if you get lost or want to remind yourself of questions you wanted to ask the hiring manager.

Maintain eye contact
Just like in a face to face interview it is still important to look your interviewer in the eye. Look directly into the webcam, not at the interviewer on the screen and stay engaged. If you have to put a post-it beside the webcam to remind you to look into it!

Familiarise yourself with the mute button in case of emergency
Need to cough (hopefully it’s not a Covid cough), sneeze or your neighbour is shouting up your stairs to see if you have any sugar, then use the mute button but make sure to press it again to speak!

Don’t stress
Online meetings, interviews and chats are commonly used now so we all have some form of practice of using them at this stage. And if you don’t, then practice before the interview!

Take it seriously!
Whilst interviewing online can give you a sense of comfort, don’t get too comfortable. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and continue to listen to what the interviewer is saying…don’t start looking out the window wondering what the courier is delivering to the neighbours!!

When it’s all over you don’t have to worry about how firm your handshake is or fumbling your way out of the seat and out the door! Don’t be surprised if online interviews become the new norm when things return to ‘normal’…whatever that is…post Coronavirus.

Enjoy it and Good Luck!