As of May 2020, there are over 154,000 people unemployed in Montreal. That’s an unemployment rate of over 13%.
COVID has made its mark on the job market and it has left some workers scrambling for income and employment. But, interviews are not what they used to be.
Companies now interview over the phone and through video conferencing. From experience, I can tell you that this has favoured candidates who are comfortable and confident in front of their cameras.
Why? Because it shows that you are a great remote worker and have a decent amount of digital literacy. You need these skills to succeed in today’s remote job market.
Here’s how you can put your best foot forward and get the job of your dreams.
Find an appropriate space
Where you do the interview is just as important as the interview itself. Choose a quiet room where there is limited to no ambient noise. Also, make sure that you have an attractive background behind you. See if you can set yourself up in front of something pretty in your house… even a plant! Keep it simple.
Also, remember your acoustics. Avoid the bathroom, because there’s typically an echo. Some of my candidates prefer to plug in headphones with a microphone to make sure that their sound is clear.
Look, we’re all home. Everyone goes about their business. We’ve seen the funny videos of co-habitants walking through someone’s video interview. If you haven’t, here’s a business man giving a CNN interview and an uninhibited man just trying to say hello.
If you can, sit in a closed space where it’s clear that you are not to be disturbed.
Test your technology
When the interview is booked, make sure you know what software the interviewer will be using. It can be Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, etc… Let them tell you what they use and follow their lead. If you are offered a choice, then you can voice your preference.
If you don’t have it already, install the software on your device and test it out with a friend. Make sure it runs well, that your camera and microphone work and see if there are any tools within the software to improve the quality of your interview.
For example, if you can’t find a great space but have a blank wall, and your interviewer uses Zoom, there are some great backgrounds you can download for Zoom to mask that wall and turn it into a library. You can read more about virtual backgrounds if this is something you’re interested in!
Here’s a pro tip – know where the camera is and your angles. Depending what device you’re using, your camera may be at the top of your screen, at the top right side of the device, or even below your screen.
No one wants to see what is up your nose, so plan accordingly. Position your device to show a flattering angle of you. Some folks like to raise their device to get a more flattering angle. You can do this with books – again, keep it simple, but be aware.
Test all of that out the day before your interview. By the time the interviewer is there, you are ready to go!
Now that your tech is on point, focus on you and your skills. You want to look comfortable, at ease and confident. After all, this is your sales pitch of why you’re the best fit for this role!
The reality is that not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera, and there is a difference between FaceTime with a friend, and conferencing to land a job.
Run some mock interviews using a conference app of your choice, and ask a friend to quiz you about things on your resume. Simple stuff, it doesn’t need to be complicated. The goal is to get you to feel more at ease about talking business over a video call. This will win you major brownie points because it’ll show the interviewer that you are ready to work remotely, with a remote team.
If you can’t think of anyone who would be good help, I’m happy to step in and give you some feedback on how you’re presenting yourself through a mock interview. Just say the word.
Look your best
Even though we are mostly working from home, it is important that you dress up and look professional for your interview. Make sure your hair is tidy and you look well put-together. Yes, wear that blazer. Make sure that your shirt is ironed. Don’t wear inappropriate clothes – all the typical interview advice still applies.
Respect the interview.
Do your COVID research (on the company)
Pre-COVID, a basic best practice is to show up a few minutes early for your interview. This gives you an opportunity to watch how employees interact with each other, converse with passing employees while you wait and see how you feel in their space. We can’t do that anymore but this step is just as important.
One way to do this is to research how the company has responded to COVID where their business and employees are concerned. Have there been layoffs? Are they repositioning themselves by offering different products? Do they face regulatory challenges? This will help you ask questions that highlight the type of employee culture they have.
Use body language
So you’re sitting in front of your computer instead of in front of an actual person. When we’re face to face, we tend to pick up on subtle body language cues and get a pretty clear idea of how a person’s feeling based on little quirks you notice – like if they’re nervous they’ll tap a foot or scratch an elbow.
The new reality is that both parties will now only see each other’s faces and maybe the top eighth of the body. This means that if you want to shape the interviewer’s perception of you, you have to find a little more space and exaggerate your body language more than usual. Use your hands and be more animated than you typically are to really show your personality and eagerness to work.
Shut it down
Listen, interviews are stressful. Once you realize that the questions have been asked and answered, you’ve understood what the next steps are and you’ve said your perfect good-byes… turn off the conferencing software.
I can not stress this enough. Make sure your camera and microphone are off and that you have left the meeting before doing or saying anything else.
Awkwardness can happen to the best of us.
At the end of the day, we all want to do our best. Make sure you nurture the skill of digital communication because it will serve you in your future, in many other contexts as well. If you need any advice or help getting your remote interviewing skills together, I’m here and ready.