The current situation has changed the way people interact with each other. Companies are now increasingly implementing remote work among its employees and online interviews have been the primary resolution to bridge the gap between social distancing and continuous hiring across the globe.
Although some industries have been disrupted by the current crisis, thousands of companies are still actively hiring and looking to expand their workforce. However, if you’re a job seeker, impressing your interviewers may be quite challenging these days especially since most hiring teams are working remotely and resorting to video calls for interviews. So how do you stand out given the current situation? How do you impress your interviewers when what’s standing between you and your next job is your interviewer through a computer screen?
1. Your resume is still your ultimate ticket to an interview – and will always be
Given the current economic climate, competition is a lot fiercer than ever. Before you could impress your interviewer remotely, you need to secure that remote interview first. If you don’t polish your resume and tailor it to the job you’re applying for, chances are the hiring manager or recruiter might move on to the next applicant.
This is a quick checklist for you so you could improve your resume and stand out from the other applicants:
- Did you include quantitative achievements that highlight your actual successes at work?
- Did you use action words that explain how you accomplished your tasks?
- Did you use bullet points so hiring managers and recruiters can easily digest the information?
- Did you spell-check your resume and/or ask a peer to review it?
- Did you write a professional summary, which serves as your elevator pitch to the hiring manager or recruiter?
- Did you read the job description and tailor your resume based on this?
- Did you remove any unnecessary colors or designs that could make your resume look unprofessional?
- Did you stick to 1 - 2 fonts and an easy-to-read structure?
If you did all of the above, then you have a better chance of securing a remote interview.
2. A balance of patience and proactivity goes a long way
With the current circumstances, it may take time for hiring teams to respond back to applicants. But don’t let this discourage you from applying. Some industries may be battling with hiring freezes and slowdowns but in every crisis lies an opportunity. There are a lot of other companies and industries that are actively looking to expand their teams. Be one of the few people who know when to seize a good opportunity during a crisis.
If you are faced with an interview roadblock, don’t be afraid to express your availability for a remote interview when applying or following up when you receive a lack of replies after the interview. By doing this, you demonstrate your proactivity and eagerness to be part of their company. However, it’s also critical that you acknowledge and understand the special circumstances that may be causing the delays. The key is finding the balance between patience and proactivity. Following up after a day is definitely too soon but asking for an update after a week or so seems about reasonable. After your remote interview, sending a follow-up email or adding the interviewer on LinkedIn will make you more memorable. Demanding emails, on the other hand, will make you notoriously memorable.
If you do need to send more than one email, how do you follow-up without coming across as demanding? Simple: offer anything valuable. This could be something as subtle as sharing information about a topic you discussed during the interview or something as elaborate as providing more information that could help the company solve a current problem or improve their system. They would appreciate this additional effort and will earn you a few plus points to beat your competition.
3. You’re only as good as your equipment
It’s sad to say this but it really does affect the outcome of your interview. People, who have innate preferences and biases, will be interviewing you and you could potentially lose their interest if:
- Your slow internet connection is preventing them from having a decent conversation with you
- Your low-quality camera (the one thing that allowed this semblance of a face-to-face interview) makes it hard for them to see your face let alone your facial expressions
- The static from your mic keeps your interviewer from hearing the detailed explanation of how you succeeded in your previous jobs
Photo source: Christopher Gower, Unsplash
Although people will be more understanding about the unexpected glitches of technology these days, let’s face it, if the hiring manager had an interview with someone who may be as good as you but had a more seamless conversation with the aid of good equipment, unfortunately, it could cost you the job. Good equipment increases your chances of getting a better remote interview experience, which also increases your chances of impressing the interviewer.
You only have one chance to leave a good impression. Don’t let bad technology win.
4. Looking professional involves more than just your attire
Looking professional during a face-to-face interview is actually a lot easier compared to online interviews. Typically, for face-to-face interviews, professionalism boils down to two controllable factors: your attire and demeanor. However, for online interviews, there are other aspects involved. Besides attire and demeanor, there’s the equipment and hardware, and of course, there’s also the video conferencing software as well as the background you’ll be showing on the video call.
All of these will work hand-in-hand to portray your professionalism during a remote interview. To ensure that the interview goes as smoothly as possible, allow yourself a few minutes before the interview to:
- Check that all your equipment is connected and working properly (camera, mic, earphones, charger, etc.)
- Explore how the video conferencing software works (calling, sharing files, sharing screens, adjusting the volume, muting, unmuting, chatting, etc.)
- Cleanup and remove any distractions within your camera’s line of sight
- Put your phone on silent mode
- Position the camera to a flattering angle
- Close all the windows to avoid unnecessary outdoor noise
- Lock the door to avoid people from entering your room during your interview
- If you live with other people, remind them to refrain from knocking on your door
- Place an additional light source close to your computer to brighten the video call
If you’ve prepared to look professional before the remote interview and something unexpected does happen during your remote video call, don’t worry. It happens. A simple apology will work. Your interviewers will understand. But remember: they do know the difference between someone who prepared for the remote interview and someone who didn’t. Avoid being the latter if you want to impress your interviewer.
5. Don’t let social distancing mute your social presence
Networking and standing out among the crowd is still possible despite social distancing. Given the current hesitation for face-to-face interaction, you may find it challenging to fully showcase your expertise, personality, and style to potential employers.
One way to outshine your competition and get you to the candidate shortlist is establishing (or better yet, strengthening) your online presence:
Update your LinkedIn profile and be more active on that social platform (publish articles, share useful content, leave insightful comments, join groups, etc.)
- Engage with the social channels of the companies you’re interviewing for
- Use Twitter to be heard and engage with other users within your industry
- Be part of a Facebook community and contribute to these industry-specific groups
- Share your industry insights and opinions on content platforms such as Medium, Note, Write.as, Telegra.ph, Youtube, etc.
- Work on creating a website or blog, which highlights the depth of your expertise. It’s now easier to build websites using user-friendly and code-free website builders like Wix, Squarespace, Ghost, GoDaddy, Weebly, Wordpress, HostGator, etc.