There is no doubt that this is a crazy time to be alive. After all, we are living through a once in a century global pandemic! There is the stress and anxiety of everyday pandemic existence, maintaining six feet of distance from everyone on the planet, and being trapped in your house for an indefinite period of time. And if you’re job searching, there is a whole separate layer of added stress.
The good news for you, dear Talent Market readers, is that many free-market nonprofits are still very active in posting jobs, reviewing applications, and interviewing. But in a world dominated by social distancing, it might seem pretty obvious that organizations are not exactly jumping to interview in-person. Navigating our first global pandemic together, Talent Market is here to offer you some helpful tips for virtual interviewing in the time of COVID-19.
- Have a quiet space. When interviewing virtually, it is best to assume that the other person on the phone or Zoom call can hear everything you can hear. So do everything you can to make sure your interview space is quiet and professional. Ideally, this will mean interviewing in a separate room where you can close the door. Want to know what it will sound like to interview you? Do a test with a friend. Have them call you through whatever medium you will be using to interview and ask them what background sounds they can hear. During the interview, when you are 100% sure that your space is free of random noises, you will feel all the more confident and will be free to be your best self.
- Make sure you won’t get any visitors. Everyone is home with their four-legged friends, toddlers, spouses, roommates, pet rabbits, and any other quarantine buddies, but I promise your interview will not be enhanced by a surprise cameo. The BBC interview dad may have been the best video of 2017, but does anyone actually remember the topic of his interview? Probably not. And you definitely want your interviewer to remember you, which means they need to pay attention to what you are saying free of distractions. That means creating the conditions where Sparky isn’t jumping on your lap and your husband isn’t poking his head in to ask what’s for dinner just as you’re getting to the best point about why you are such a great fit for this role. Pro tip: LOCK YOUR DOOR!
As hard as it is to get distraction–free time when we’re all stuck inside, the good news is that a typical interview lasts half an hour. So, as far in advance as you can, have that polite conversation with your quarantine buddies, asking them if they can take just this one half hour during the day to go get some fresh air.
- Test out your internet connection and video appearance in advance. We’ve all been on that painful conference call where someone is cutting in and out, there is a significant delay, the person has chosen the worst possible angle of themselves, or the call itself keeps dropping. Don’t be that person during your interview. Just as you tested out your background sounds with a friend, test our your internet connection and the way you look on video. Make sure the test lasts at least ten minutes. If the video is not coming through well or the call keeps dropping, you can try the test in another part of the house to best maximize the connection.
- Dress professionally. Just because you are interviewing from the comfort of your home does not mean you can dress for the comfort of your home. As difficult as it may be after living in sweatpants for the past two weeks, get dressed like you would for an in-person interview. Shower. Iron your shirt. Wear earrings. Put makeup on. And worst of all, make sure you are dressed professionally from the waist down too because who knows what can happen? Maybe your adorable toddler comes bursting through the door, your interviewer asks you to adjust the lighting, or who knows? Be prepared for everything. Obviously, you will look professional, and believe it or not, you will also feel more professional and take the interview more seriously.
- Have a professional looking background. So you convinced your roommate, Ted, to take his cat for a walk, you are interviewing in a quiet space, you tested the sound and internet connection, and you look like a million bucks. You’re ready to dominate this interview, right?! Not so fast. When you’re doing that test call with a friend, make sure they are evaluating the background, too. What does that camera capture during the Zoom call? If your test call friend can see that college photo collage featuring your most impressive keg stand and your favorite Breaking Bad poster, you might want to reposition your camera.If you are interviewing on zoom, Canva offers free professional virtual backgrounds for zoom. Just be sure to test it out in advance.
- A smile comes across on the phone. As you progress to the final interview stages, it is likely that most interviews will take place by video. But many interviews, particularly early interviews, are likely to take place by phone too. If you do a phone interview, follow all of the advice above and keep in mind that a smile actually comes through on the phone. The safest way to approach a phone interview is to treat it like a video interview. I like to adopt the SEE approach for all interviews but find it especially helpful to keep in mind for phone interviews: Smile, Eye Contact, Energy. Even though you are talking on the phone, your enthusiasm for the position still needs to come through. So, as weird as it may feel, try to pretend you are on video.
We hope these tips help you make the most of your virtual interviews!