Interviewing during COVID-19: Preparing for Virtual Interviewing
By: Destiny Johnson
While traditional interviewing can bring its own challenges due to the coronavirus, it has taken on a whole new meaning and experience for both the interviewer and interviewee, leaving some unsettled. COVID -19 has employers adapting their hiring and interviewing practices to accommodate the season of social distancing and remote working. This means interviewing, as we have known it has made a few adjustments. These new updates may be difficult to navigate and may have some thinking about how they should prepare. Do not worry, there are still ways to conquer the job sector with a few concrete and concise tips for virtual interviewing to help you better prepare. These tips can lead to successful outcomes and build your confidence before and during your big day.
Remember preparing for a virtual interview may be different and, in some way, uncomfortable, however it is still designed for you to articulate, and showcase your skills in an engaging way.
- Make sure you have the right computer equipment, and software programs prior to the interview. A virtual interview requires equipment such as:
o camera and microphone on your computer, tablet, or smartphone
o software application program (such as Zoom or Google Hangouts etc.)
Set up and test computer technology to ensure it works properly. Download video meeting software prior to the interview and practice logging on at least a day before your virtual interview. Turn on the sound and video to ensure everything is in working order.
- Confirm you have a strong internet connection. Before your interview 20 minutes beforehand check internet access and connection. You want to ensure you have the right bandwidth to stream video. Once your connection is made, sign into the video meeting using the link provided by the company or interviewer. Technical challenges can occur but will be worse if you have not tried to troubleshoot prior to the interview.
o Have a backup plan if technology is not working. If this is possible and feasible for you, have a smartphone or tablet that you can use as a backup plan if your computer is not working. Many apps can be used interchangeably from one device to the other.
- Workspace for the interview should be clutter free with a clean background. Not everyone has an office space in their home however, it is important to have a clean background that will be visible to interviewers. The background can be a color solid wall, a wall of paintings, or organized kitchen or bedroom, or nice décor accent. Zoom also has a setting in which you can choose a picture as a background. Test it out: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/210707503-Virtual-Background
- Choose a space that limits distractions. Select a quiet area free from distraction to have your interview. With everyone being home these days, prepare your family for the interview a few days prior so if adjustment needs to take place that can. If you have pets, house them in a different room. If you have small children do your best to plan your interview around nap times if you can. We are all home and navigating shared spaces so do your best to limit distractions.
- Familiarize yourself and do your research. With any interview you must prepare. Whether it be virtual or in person the process is the same. Do your research and know the company, job description and responsibilities, and prepare to connect and discuss your transferable skill.
- Dress professionally and grooming should be polished. Although you are having a virtual interview, your dress attire and appearance matters and is still a very important process of interviewing. Do not slack on appearance. Wear professional attire and groom your hair and face.
- Lighting and professional posture. Make sure to sit up straight and place the camera so that you are in the middle of the screen. Use an area that has good lighting for the webcam to focus on your face and the interviewer can see you easily.
- Stay engaged and authentic. The benefit of virtual interviews is you can pick a setting that you feel comfortable in. Using a relaxing environment will help you express yourself authentically. Stay engaged by using confident tones and speech. Use your body language and facial expression to show interest in the topic.
- Smile and make eye contact. Here is a trick, grab a small post it and place it near your computer camera that reminds you to smile naturally
- Take notes. Have a notepad or a piece of paper and pen ready handy to take notes or open a tab for notes on your computer. Write down any questions that the interviewer is asking to ensure you answer them fully.
- Share skills and examples concisely. Express your skills that display your adaptability during this difficult time along with skills aligned with the job duties. Take your time, formulate your answers including concrete examples that are concise, yet paint a vivid picture of your abilities.
- Prepare questions. At the end of each interview there is a moment you can ask questions to the interviewer. This is a great time for you to convey your dedication to learning about the company. Have 1 or 2 questions prepared beforehand to ask. Some question can be related to
o In person health and safety guidelines (mask wearing, temperature checks, social distance due to COVID).
o Job security of position, office culture, and support due to pandemic
o What policy changes have the company made or things you should expect to accommodate remote work.
o What are the new opportunities the company is developing or what are the challenges the company may be facing and solutions etc.
- Follow-up after the Interview. Within 24 hours of the interview you should contact HR or the hiring representatives to say thank you for their interview and consideration and express your availability for further questions.