Job interview tips in the age of social distancing

The basics of any interview remain the same – do your research on the company and the role, prepare questions, and dress appropriately.


However, when everyone is staying six feet apart from each other and practicing social distancing, companies are relying more and more on new tools to find and hire employees. If you’re looking for a job during or in response to the coronavirus pandemic, phone and video interviews will become an integral part of your search.


How should I interview on the phone?


Smile, even when they can’t see you. It’s a cliché, but for good reason. You’ll project the same warmth and confidence as you would in person.


Limit distractions. Use headphones with a microphone, sit in a quiet room, shut down your laptop, close apps or turn off notifications – whatever you need to do to reduce interruptions. The potential for distraction on the phone is high, and you could come across as if you don’t care about the role.


How should I interview through video?


Scout a scene. Find a neutral background in a quiet space, make sure it’s clean, and test your camera and microphone ahead of the interview. Your camera should be setup so your face is centered in the screen and far enough away to see your shoulders and the top of your head. The lighting should be bright and natural-looking.


Check your tech. Before the interview, make sure you’ve installed or logged into the program or site that will be used.Call friends or family to do a dry run of the technology, and keep your phone nearby as a back-up in case the video connection is interrupted or won’t work.


Have a conversation. In reality, a video interview shouldn’t be too different from an in-person one. Stay focused on the person or people you’re talking with and treat the meeting as a two-way chat. If you talk with your hands in-person, do it on camera! Be as confident and authentic on screen as you would in person.


Take pause occasionally. The only trick with video interviewing can be with interrupting. It’s trickier to build on comments someone just said, and it can be easy to not hear someone. Take a second or two to ensure another person has finished speaking before answering or contributing.


How do I stand out during remote interviews?


Digital portfolios or websites. Showcase your past work on a personal site you build for yourself, through LinkedIn projects or even a PowerPoint presentation saved in a Google Drive. These can be powerful tools to demonstrate what you have already accomplished, helping you stand out in a sea of resumes, phone screeners and Zoom meetings.


Create your own video or project. For example, if you’re applying for a digital media role, make a YouTube video about what you could bring to the company. Get creative and think about the daily tactics you might use in the job you’re interviewing for, and see if you can create a shareable, concise project that reflects your skills.
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