How to nail an interview in Covid times

Vitual Interview in Covid Times

It’s been more than a year already since we have had to adapt to this new way of working and living, dealing with ever-changing health measures and relying even more on technology for our work. Needless to say that recruiting new talent isn’t just the same anymore. Candidates and interviewers used to be able to get a quick coffee and learn more about the opportunity in-person.

As a recruiter, I’ve always been a fan of face-to-face interviews. You can have a better sense and assess the candidates through non-verbal cues, body language, or facial expressions. Same with candidates, they have a better feel of the people they will potentially work with. I must admit, though, in-person interviews can be very time-consuming sometimes. The virtual interview has its advantages as it can make hiring decisions quicker. 

And while we’ve all accustomed to video calls or phone interviews quickly, having to prepare for an interview while you’re not able to meet in person can still be quite stressful. It’s just a different kind of stress. So here’s my take on what both candidates and interviewers can do to stay cool, calm and collected for their next (virtual) interview. 

Some nuggets of advice for Candidates

01. “Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” – And this is especially true with technology. Before Covid-19, our internet at home worked perfectly fine but now since everyone is increasingly working from home, you start to notice that your internet connection can be quite unstable from time to time. So do check that everything is in order. Make sure that your laptop or phone is fully charged and test your camera, audio and video conferencing platforms beforehand. Do a practice run so you feel more comfortable with the technology and the setting. But also do think of a plan B in case your internet connection suddenly decides to drop off, for example a quiet cafe in the neighbourhood or getting additional data on your phone. 

02. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted – There’s nothing worse than being on a video call and seeing your counterpart constantly pausing or being inattentive because of message notifications or because of other people in the room. Give yourself the time to focus on the interview and find a quiet location with few distractions. Choose a clean and organized room so the interviewer can focus their attention on you and not what is around you. Position your computer on a table instead of your lap or couch. If you live with flatmates, respectfully let them know that you have an interview at the specified time to limit interruptions.

03. Dress to impress – Yes, it’s tempting to just throw on a t-shirt and keep on your pyjamas for the video interview. But when you look good, you feel good. Dressing up will make you appear professional, serious about the opportunity and just plain confident to the interviewer. 

04. Prepare, because it’s real – It’s not because you’re conducting a video interview that you should forget about the basics. Do your research, learn about the company and the role. Research about your interviewer and prepare great questions that will give you more insight into the role and the company culture than what is mentioned on the job description. 

05. During the interview – All general rules apply. Be prepared and be your authentic self. Let your experience shine and make it a genuine, interactive conversation to show your excitement about the opportunity. 

06. After the interview – Don’t forget to follow up as your interviewer will definitely appreciate your proactivity. Take a moment and draft a simple email thanking the interviewers for their time. Let them know you are available if they have any additional questions. This may seem obvious but still too often candidates fail to do so and unfortunately fail to be remembered. 

What Interviewers should do

01. Prepare before the interview – This is an obvious one but don’t let your guard down and familiarise yourself with the candidate’s resume and background ahead of time. This way, you can plan ahead and think carefully about the skills and attributes you’re looking for in a candidate and design questions that deep dive into each one.

02. Be present – Same as with the candidates, take the call in a quiet place with no distractions. It is easy to assume that candidates will not notice, but candidates know when you are not listening. Avoid walking around or checking your emails or messages while the interview is ongoing. 

03. Be accommodating – Set a friendly atmosphere, so candidates are less nervous and we can get the best of them. Don’t forget, the new virtual setting will just add a different level of stress to the candidates. Do not ask questions one after the other – ensure you give the candidate time to respond and are done before moving onto the next question, especially when the internet connection might be unstable. And allow the candidates time to also ask questions that they may have.

04. Communicate openly – General interview etiquette also applies to recruiters and interviewers. Keep the candidates well-informed and let them know what the next steps would be. Give them a timeline on when they will hear back on the status of their application and aim to stick to the timeline. Don’t leave the candidate hanging as this will have a bad reflection on yourself and your company.  

At the core of it, the interview stage is the first glimpse for both sides. Candidates will get a sense of the company and the people they will be working with and for hiring managers to better understand the candidate’s overall fit. Though we are seeing a silver lining and hoping to return to what it used to be – Covid-19 has definitely changed the interviewing scene. We foresee companies continuing on with virtual interview arrangements. And with the absence of face-to-face meetings, we want to make sure we make the most out of our virtual interviews. While preparing and conducting virtual interviews might bring a different level of stress, I hope that these small nuggets will help candidates and interviewers overcome this and come out with a positive experience. 

 

Written by Iena Ocampo, Talent Acquisition Manager at Hyphen Group.

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