Interview from Home during the Global Quarantine

As more and more talented people are entering the job market, the new reality is that interviewing will be taking place from home for the foreseeable future. Many employers will turn to video calls to interact with prospects, and while many job seekers may be decently familiar with the technology, the fact is that there are many platforms to master – from Skype to Zoom to Google Hangouts. Mistakes often happen because people expect the video chat to work the same way each time, which we know isn’t the case. What’s frequently misunderstood is the level of sophistication needed across these platforms. The list of variables is lengthy and growing: from internet connection, to audio issues, to at-home interruptions.

And even if you’re a pro at video conferences, interviewing virtually is a whole different ball game. Plus, you don’t always know how tech-savvy the interviewer may be on the other end of the line, but regardless, it’s critical you come prepared to mitigate any frustration with the technology and keep your skills and capabilities as the central focus.

There are a few simple steps you can take prior to a video interview.

  1. Clarify the type of interview it will be. Just because you get an invite on Zoom, don’t assume it will be a video call, it may only be an audio call. While the work world is in flux, a company may choose to add people to your call and not think to mention it. So clarify if it will be a one-on-one call or if you will be speaking with multiple people and if so, what their roles are in the agency.
  2. A good headset is really helpful. While we’ve all become more casual working from home, the interview setting is not the time to be lax. Simply put, bad audio quality will disrupt the conversation. Your standard earbuds or your computer microphone is liable to pick up ambient noise. I have already heard numerous stories of children joining meetings and for the person on the other end, it can sound poorly tuned radio and is unpleasant to listen to. Invest in a decent headset that is wired to your computer and has a microphone that is on a boom rather than one that hangs freely. I often use a Plantronics Blackwire corded USB headset.
  3. Run a test. I recently have had people tell me about audio issues because of a bad or choppy connection. Use the platform’s test options but also consider calling a friend and checking the ease of the connection. Even if you are using the platform often, run an extra check before an interview. If you will be presenting any information you’ve prepared, it’s well-worth understanding whether you’ll be able to share your work beforehand, or if you might lean into recording portions of your presentation for ease and flow.
  4. Know your speaking speed and cadence. People can get anxious in interviews, they tend to speed up or want to jump in. It is worth slowing your cadence, and when you finish your answer, ask if that was clear. Internet speeds can also slow down a conversation, so if there is a pause before a response, don’t feel the need to jump in, take a breath and wait.
  5. Have a second or third option ready to go. Most companies have a preferred method of communicating, whether that be Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime. Most of the time these programs work fine. But you are making an impression, so come prepared with a backup plan. If Zoom isn’t working, be ready to offer a different video software or simply a phone call. I’ve seen too many candidates and companies that have labored with glitches or delays and not only does it eat into time, but it leaves all parties annoyed, and whether they admit it or not, influences their decision on a candidate. It’s better to cut bait early and suggest a different platform.

By Sasha Martens