There’s some good news for job seekers: companies are finally regaining hiring confidence after uncertainty from the worst days of the pandemic (the coronavirus impact on tech can’t be overstated). A Monster survey shows that 37% of businesses are looking to backfill positions and 35% of employers are planning to fill net-new roles. For tech professionals who remained in secure but unsatisfying jobs, there’s finally some relief from your holding pattern.
However, if you’re restarting your search for information technology jobs, you’ll find that some of the normal routines have been modified by COVID-19. The Conference Board, a U.S.-based think tank, found that more than one in three businesses are willing to hire workers from anywhere in the United States or internationally. That means video job interviews are here to stay. If the approach is new to you, here are some tips for virtual interviews that will give you an edge against your competition.
1.) Brace yourself for change
Prepare for a different energy than face-to-face interactions. The atmosphere of virtual interviews often lends itself less to small talk or relationship building than getting down to brass tacks. Sitting at their computers, calendars and clocks vying for their attention, interviewers often feel heightened demands on their time.
For job seekers willing and ready to engage interviewers, this is not a major hurdle. The usual research and preparation for an interview still holds true for video calls. Come prepared with intel on your interviewer (LinkedIn is always a great resource for their experience, education, and passions) and a few questions to break the ice. By owning your part in establishing strong connections, you’ll make a stronger impression and show you’re ready to lay the groundwork to make their company your career home.
2.) Test drive everything
By this point, most of us have road-tested one or more video conferencing platforms, either during our work or personal time. Interviewing platforms are moderately different. Though most tools have a similar UX, there are some variations in features ranging from a one-way interview approach to integrated technical assessments. Even if you are great at adapting to new tech on the fly (e.g. we expect you to understand Zoom filters more than this attorney did), exploring the platform in advance can prevent any hiccups in the moment.
What about technical assessments? If you are a developer, be sure to run through any coding demo, presenting it to one of your peers or even your technical recruiter, to work out the kinks and receive some insightful feedback. If you are a data analyst preparing for a technical assessment, do some preliminary research to define your target employer’s potential data problems or important metrics. If you map out the road ahead, you’re less likely to be caught off guard.
3.) Shut out distractions
Our brains are naturally designed for distraction. When human beings lived closer to nature, it was beneficial for us to shift between heightened and diminished perception. Great for surviving against predators but not so much for paying attention amidst an abundance of digital distractions. During virtual interviews, there are a number of possible disruptors you need to eliminate to keep you and your interviewer focused and engaged.
Start by closing all unnecessary tabs and programs on your computer and cell phone. It’ll keep you more attentive, increase your bandwidth, and sidestep avoidable call lags. While you’re at it, make sure to put your cell phone in a separate room (if you’re not using it for your video call).
Be sure to find a secluded space to take your interview, one that will prevent your kids or family pets from making a surprise cameo. Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to seal yourself off from the outside world, your isolation does not do much good if you cannot be heard. Make sure that you have a good microphone and noise-cancelling headphones to ensure your responses sound clear as well as confident.
4.) Set the right expectations
Nothing is more nerve-wracking than walking into an interview expecting one person and finding an entire group awaiting you instead. Moving to virtual interviews hasn’t changed this being a possibility, only how that realization makes itself known (one by one as people hop on the call invite). As always, verify who will be interviewing you and what you will need to have prepared.
What about the company culture and environment? In the past, you could gauge both aspects during the time you’re sitting in the lobby or walking through their workspace. Now, you need to gather as much of that information online to shape your responses and interactions with the company’s interviewer. If you are working with a technical recruiter, this is a great opportunity to pick their brain and fill in the gap lost by virtual interviews.
Customizing your virtual interview tips
Though there’s been a major market shift, there are some unique virtual interview quirks that are only applicable to specific companies. That’s when it truly helps to have an insider in your corner. Whether that is a member of the company’s internal team, if you have one in your network, or a connected IT recruiter, it’s critical to be able to ask questions that can help you craft your responses to align with their culture, finding true opportunities that grow your career.
Following these tips for virtual interviews is just the start. You need opportunities that reflect and align with your goals. Scroll through our current openings to find the right fit for you.