It’s All About The Interview

The Workforce Development staff at St. Francis House are back this week to discuss one of the most important steps in getting the job- the interview!

Traditionally, many employers would start with a brief phone call to ask basic questions to decide if it’s worth meeting a candidate in person. The purpose was mostly to assess communication skills and ask questions to address non-negotiable requirements, such as non-English languages or a driver’s license. If everything checked out, the next step would be an in-person interview. During COVID-19, and potentially in the future, as companies look to save time and comply with social distancing, we are seeing an increase in  virtual interviewing as opposed to the in-person meet and greet. This increasing trend in online screening has job applicants “meeting” their potential employers on platforms such as Zoom, which allows you to talk to one or more people in real-time.

Be ready to adapt! You can take some comfort in the fact that all the great work the workforce development staff assist you with for traditional in-person interviews is just as important for the virtual setting. Researching the organization, preparing questions about the role, having your resume handy, and practicing mock interviews with others are still needed. You just have to make sure you have some basic technical considerations in place to interview online.

Here are some tips to set you up for virtual interview success:

  • Try to make sure you can access a computer or phone that has the exact or similar online tool the company will be using for the interview. Even if you cannot access their specific video tools, try to practice with someone you know in a “mock” interview on free software like Google Hangout, Skype or Zoom so you can see how to position yourself to be seen and heard on camera. Make sure you know how to mute and unmute your microphone!
  • Dress professionally. You should make sure you can be seen on camera from the waist up, and even in a home or computer lab setting, you are dressing to impress.
  • Set yourself up to be seen on camera. Try to access a well lit, quiet space with a neutral colored wall as a background. If you have to use a phone instead of a computer, make sure you can lean it against something instead of having to hold it in your hand. Also, make sure your head and shoulders are visible.
  • Eye contact is important.  Even without actual face-to-face interaction, you’ll want to look at the interviewer’s face on camera so they know you’re listening and interested in the conversation. You should also politely mention if you can’t see or hear them well, in case there are technical issues on their end. Communication is key! 
  • An online interview is still a “real” interview: Make sure you turn off all other programs and exit other screens on the computer or phone you’re using and remember to silence any cell phones around you. Show your enthusiasm for the company, relay how your skills match up for the role, have questions for the interviewers, and don’t forget a thank-you email with follow up questions or information to add within 24hours!
  • Make sure your conversation flows on camera.  On most video interview platforms, only one mic can be heard by everyone at once. Make sure to not interrupt the other person talking, try nodding or smiling to show acknowledgment.
  • Prepare for mistakes to happen: Internet connection problems can occur; pets or roommates might suddenly appear. If an interruption is likely you might consider politely warning your interviewers at the beginning of the conversation. If a distracting event occurs, graciously apologize and move on with confidence.
  • Most important of all….be yourself! People hire those with the needed skills without question, but the difference between getting hired or not is you. Companies want to hire individuals who are a pleasure to interact with,  potentially for many hours a day for an extended period of time. So take the time to be positive and connect in a friendly manner, especially during this time of uncertainty around the world. A calm and confident person is reassuring. And similar to an in-person interview, you should bring up your questions throughout the conversation if they feel natural. You don’t have to wait until the end.

Best of luck on your virtual interviews!

As always: through email, phone, and video, we’re continuing to provide workforce development services virtually. We look forward to meeting you if we haven’t already, for guests not already assigned to a staff member but in need of assistance, there are a few ways to contact our team: