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Job Hunting and Interviewing during Covid

Video InterviewI spend much of my time conducting interviews with candidates who reply to our job postings on LinkedIn and Indeed. I have been hiring people for many years (yeah, I am an old guy) and I have performed hundreds of interviews, both face-to-face and over the phone. Part of my goal is to build trust with the candidates and help them find a home within CM Solutions. Face-to-face meetings are far easier. I can read your non-verbal signals and get a quicker read on your “fit” within our client base. This Covid event has driven all conversations to either phone or video calls, which is more challenging but we have been very successful in finding great people.I would like to share with you some best practices on phone & video interviews and how to best set yourself up for success during the new normal of working out of the home.

Resume

  1. Only highlight those areas that are relevant to the job. If you are applying for an engineering position, your time as an Assistant Manager at Applebee’s does not need to be included in your work experience. Similarly, you don’t need to list every separate job assignment or title that you owned while working for a firm. Keep it simple.
  2. Use spellcheck and then ask someone else to review your work prior to submitting. Typos are common and it does not impress the reader. Ex. Identifying yourself as “detail oriented” in your opening paragraph and then misspelling one of your job titles as Porject Manger.

Response times

  1. If you apply for a job, please respond to our inquiries about your application. About 5% of the people who apply never reply to my phone calls or emails requesting an introductory call. I am not going to beg people for an interview, so after two attempts, I delete you from the database. Not sure why people apply for a job and then choose to ignore the attempt to connect.
  2. Please include your name in your phone’s voicemail greeting. The generic greeting with only your phone number identified does not allow me to ensure my message is getting to the correct person.

Phone interview

  1. Give yourself a time and place where you can come across as your best self. When I connect with someone, I always ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” Sometimes I catch applicants at work and they may not want their employer or others to know they are “open to new opportunities” so they need to find a safe place. Other times they may be in the car driving and need to focus on that task. You will not hurt my feelings if we need to schedule some time that best fits your needs. I am talking to people all day so I understand there are good times and not so good times. Just try to limit distractions where possible (more on that in the Video interview section).
  2. Please focus on the call. Just because I cannot see you does not mean I cannot tell when you are doing other things during our call. If you cannot dedicate 15 minutes to answer my questions for a job you applied to, you are wasting my time. You would be surprised what people do during phone conversations (eating, clipping nails, and yes, bathroom breaks).

Video interview

    Video interview at home
  1. Make sure you are allowing yourself to present in the best possible environment. This means finding a quiet place with no interruptions and strong Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity. I know this may be a challenge with kids staying home during this Covid event but please give yourself a chance. I have had candidates try to conduct interviews while sitting next to their housing complex pool or outdoors on a windy day. Both had the skills but the environment they chose made it very difficult to understand their answers and were ultimately declined by the client. Most interviewers are flexible on a kid-based interruption these days but again, try to put yourself in a place where you can focus on presenting the best you.
  2. Become familiar with the technologies prior to the call. Whether you are to be using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or any other conferencing tool, practice prior to the interview. If screensharing will be part of the interview process, try to get comfortable with it before you go live.
  3. Ensure your logistics and tools are working. Is Wi-Fi working correctly with your laptop? Do you have a backup laptop or another screen to use during an interview? Is a MAC or PC needed? Is there a company firewall or other VPN issues that need to be addressed?
The good news is that many of our employers are mandating that their employees work from home during this pandemic. That means if you are selected, you most likely will not need to relocate to the office location immediately. Employers are realizing that they are gaining more productivity through work-at-home, so this may become the norm. That said, realize that your phone/video interview is also a peek into how YOU can work in the home environment. If you cannot demonstrate that you are able to perform during an interview, it is most likely you will be judged unsuited to do the job they will be asking you to do as their employee.So remember that even though you are conducting these interviews from the comfort of your home, you are being judged by the interviewers on exactly that skill… how you perform while working out of the home. Use these tips to give yourself the best chance to show off all of your skills.
Joe Schlegel is Vice President of Recruitment at CM Solutions and is responsible for finding the best project controls personnel for our clients. He has over 30 years of experience in building relationships with clients and hiring talented people. In addition, he is an adjunct professor at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics.