Interviewing in COVID Times

Pre-COVID, you rarely interviewed for jobs.

You found a job, excelled, and moved up in your organization. That organization’s customers met you, recognized your skills and invited you in for a “soft” interview, the decision already ninety percent made before you walked in the room.

The ground shifted under your feet when you got laid off during COVID-19’s rampage through the work world.

Not only are you interviewing from a position of weakness—you lack a job, but you’re interviewing with individuals who don’t already know you’re a good hire.

Welcome to post-pandemic job interviewing.

Here’s how to land that job:

Expect COVID to be on the table

Prepare to address how you have navigated COVID’s challenges—both working in a remote environment and being out of work. Employers seek new hires that have demonstrated flexibility, resilience, and a positive attitude.

Embrace virtual

Employers need employees who can handle a virtual work environment.

If you interview virtually, realize the interviewer may grade you on your technology skills. If you fumble with the interview sign-on, you send a problematic message. Make sure your headphones and mic work. If your home reception is spotty, position your computer near your router.

Arrange a clean backdrop behind you, either a blank wall or a clean workspace. Check your lighting; natural side window light works better than overhead, florescent lighting or a light source directly behind you.

Before the interview, load your resume, portfolio or other documents you might want to share with your interviewer in an easily accessed, minimized window, and close all the other tabs on your computer. Mute your cell phone and arrange with others in your home to give you a distraction-free environment.

Get over the sense you’re on camera. Although Zoom, Team or Skype may be the medium, your interview is a conversation with a real person. From the moment the interview starts, focus on the interviewer and talk with the interviewer as you would a person. Relate to the interviewers as you would to someone you instinctively like, so your interviewer feels she or he is connecting with a real person who’s likeable, and not simply interviewee #3.

By looking directly into the camera, you appear to be making eye contact with your interviewer. Keep your focus on the camera and not yourself.

Mask up

If you interview in person, mask up and show you “get it” by giving others six feet of distance.

Because masks shield part of the face and muffle voices, make good eye contact and enunciate your words.

Preparation counts

Read the prospective employer’s website, imagine the questions you might be asked, and practice answering them. Be ready to answer the question, “why do you want to work for us?”

Don’t get thrown

Things happen. Dogs bark. Kids squabble. Plan ahead to minimize the effects of unplanned interruptions but be ready for whatever happens. I remember the interviewee who farted loudly when saying his name and then who said, “I wanted to end with a bang, but not start out with one.” Given the challenges of the position for which he was hiring, my client had told me ahead of time he wanted someone unflappable. He hired her.

You may be asked for more

Employers are adding interviews and projects to their interview process to make up for the missing in-person element. Be prepared to be asked to interview multiple times with different team members and even be asked to put together a virtual presentation outlining what you think you bring to the table, so they can share it with other team members.

Don’t let it throw you. It means they’re considering you.

Before you exit your interview, make a positive closing statement such as, “Thank you very much for your time. It was great learning about your company and team. I’m looking forward to working with you – if chosen.”  Then ask, “What are the next steps?”

If you enjoyed this post, you may find helpful this post on landing jobs post-COVID, or this post which adds more detail on video interviewing,

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3 thoughts on “Interviewing in COVID Times

  1. What a great post! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to share this on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Excellent and very specific advice! Thanks, Lynne.

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