We are now eight months into COVID-19, and the way we search for employment has drastically changed. While the internet and social media have been staples in employment searches and applying for jobs for the last several years, most interviews were still held in person.
The economy is still in recovery mode now due to the pandemic, but several employers have retooled their business practices to align with coronavirus protocols and are beginning to hire again.
So you’ve submitted the application, received the coveted callback and have a virtual interview scheduled. Congratulations! Now how do you adroitly put your best screen forward to ensure your virtual interview is successful?
I’ve learned several tips that have helped me during multiple weekly Zoom meetings since the pandemic began. Here are my top 10.
1. Make sure your internet connection is properly working. Nothing is worse than getting ready for an interview only to realize your internet is lagging or not functioning correctly. Check with your internet company to see if you are eligible for a free software upgrade. Your internet speed will be very important to prevent screen freeze and unintentional disconnection during your interview.
2. Always conduct a test run with a friend or family member. I set up Zooms with friends just to check my microphone and video. And always show up to your virtual interview a few minutes early. This will give you time to make sure all your connections are properly set up and you won’t feel rushed.
3. Pay attention to your background. Do not have it overly crowded or cluttered. Make sure it is clean! When I take part in virtual meetings I usually do them in front of my home bookcase. Books make a nice backdrop, and it makes you look studious! A white background with a plant or two also is a nice setup.
4. Check your lighting. Lighting is very important in virtual meetings. Make sure your light source is in front of you and not behind you. If the light is behind you, it will cast a shadow and you will not be visible to your interviewer. Natural light from a window is best, but it may not always be possible. As more of us continue to work from home, selfie lights are gaining popularity.
5. Make sure you are in a quiet and private location. Even if there are people in your home, stress to them that quiet is absolutely necessary! You wouldn’t bring children, your mama or pets to an in-person interview, so treat a virtual interview the same way. Maintain professionalism at all times.
6. Dress the part. Online interviews are still real interviews! Wear business attire, put on a tie, comb your hair nicely, iron your shirt, and even if your potential employer can’t see them, wear shoes. All of these things put you in the right mindset for an interview.
7. Remember to smile and maintain eye contact. Pay attention to unnecessary fidgeting. While hand gestures aren’t a bad thing, less is more.
8. Make sure to have questions written down ahead of time to ask the interviewer. You could also have notes visible to you but not the interviewer for points you don’t want to forget.
9. Speak in a clear voice. Make sure you can be heard well. This is where the test runs come in. And please, don’t chew gum.
10. Social media is your friend. Create a LinkedIn career profile. It is a great resource to present your strengths at a glance and connect with companies you would like to work for.
Most of all, try and remain positive during this ever-changing time in our world. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and socialize, but we are a resilient people and will get through this.
The interview process is definitely different but being in the comfort of your home surrounded by things that bring you peace and make you feel good can be an advantage. Put your best face, and lighting, forward, and believe that what is meant for you, will be for you. Stay positive, stay safe and be well.
About this column: I will share stories of those who have taken a nontraditional approach to employment or an unusual career path. I will also list employment information such as job fairs, resource fairs and job training events. I encourage organizations to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with career information