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Don’t panic during a pandemic job interview. Be polished & polite!

This pandemic has changed everything, including the job interviewing process. The biggest change is that in-person interviews are rightfully taking a back seat to social distancing and reducing the spread of germs. You’ve already likely applied for the job online, and, if you’ve applied to a Fortune 500 company, your resume went through a software application tracking system instead of immediately being handled by a human. So there hasn’t been much human interaction between you and the organization, as of yet. Thankfully, a phone interview or a video interview is a step in the right direction because it gives you the opportunity to connect – and hopefully shine – with the interviewer.

The goal is to stand out in a positive, confident and approachable way. Often times, your fellow job-seeking competitors may skip focusing on their social skills. Yes, you absolutely need subject-matter and technical expertise to be considered for a job. But your social skills – how you interact with other people – are what make others stop and think, “Wow, I want to work with you!” Follow these tips and you will be perfectly polished on your next phone or video interview.

1. Dress for success. Yes, people are dressing more casually while working from home and you aren’t expected to show up on a video call (or phone call) in a suit. What we’re recommending is that you dress in a way that increases your confidence. When you look good, you feel good and you exude positive and confident vibes. No wardrobe mullets allowed on a video call either. Don’t wear a collared shirt with your workout shorts or pair a blouse with your yoga pants. Dress from head-to-toe in a coordinating outfit. Take pride in your appearance.

2. Be polite. Don’t be late for your interview. Seriously, do not eat or chew gum while on the phone or on a video call. Yes, you may sip from a glass of water.

3. Be present. It’s important to give the other person your full attention so avoid all distractions. Silence notifications on your phone and computer. If there are others in your home, let them know you have an interview so they know not to approach you, then find a quiet corner of your home from which to do your interview. Put yourself on mute when not speaking. Don’t multi-task while you’re on the phone, they will hear your disinterest. And don’t look at yourself while on a video call – look at the camera when you’re talking.

4. Look your best. Yes, we already recommended you dress for success. Now, we’re suggesting that you look behind you. If you’re doing a video call, don’t share with the interviewer that laundry, newspapers or dishes have piled up all around you. You’ve essentially invited the interviewer into your home, so give them the best glimpse possible. It’s perfectly appropriate to create a little staging area – move a plant into your background, remove a pile of clutter, do your call in front of a window so you are bathed in flattering, natural light and make sure the camera is at your eye-level.

5. Be a great conversationalist. Speak slowly and clearly enough so that people can understand you. Also speak at volume where they won’t need to strain to hear you – but don’t yell. Say “yes” not “yeah”, avoid “like” and “ya know”, and don’t swear or use vulgar language. Please don’t interrupt them. Be prepared for a bit of small talk before they dive into the interview. If they ask how you’re doing – it’s not the time to delve into health, personal or serious issues. You want to convey a cheerful, upbeat attitude. Actively listen. It’s important to listen to what the interviewer is saying, not just think about what you want to say next. Nod your head in agreement, ask follow-up questions and smile (yes, even if you are only on the phone – we’re convinced people can hear you smile.) And be prepared to talk. Before the call, prepare some notes of your accomplishments, examples of skills noted in the job description and some questions you can ask.

Congratulations on landing an interview in an unprecedented time – good luck!

Have a marvelous week!


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