Interviewing During Coronavirus

In recent weeks, Americans have added the phrases “social distancing” and “quarantine” to our lexicon. It’s a challenging time to be sure and everyone needs to do their part to stay home and stay safe. 

However, critical work for many industries must continue, and that means hiring. Telecommuting is already a fixture in Seattle and other cities with large high-tech industry workers. (Who doesn’t love these group Zoom meetings with that one person who can’t figure out the microphone?) But interviewing and screening has to happen via computer as well. Here are some tips for those conducting (or participating in) teleconference interviews.

  • Check your equipment first. Yes, do the mic and sound test on your computer. Test this well before an interview, not in the 2 minutes before the scheduled time. It doesn’t reflect well on either party to have someone who can’t figure out the basic tools for conferencing, especially if you’re interviewing for a tech based job! (This includes making sure internet connection is strong!)
  • Check your background. These are extraordinary circumstances and everyone understands people are working from home. But try to find a tidy clean place with a non-distracting background. This isn’t the time to have your teenager’s poster-filled wall or your kitchen sink filled with dishes right behind you. You want to have the other person focused on you. 
  • Check your lighting. Being hugely backlit is similarly distracting. You don’t want to look like you’re in a homemade horror movie. Soft but bright lighting is best. Again, check in  advance.
  • Check your computer camera angle. It’s better to have it slightly above you. This is probably higher than would be comfortable to work at, as far as keyboard height. But you’re not typing, you’re filming. No one wants the nostril view.
  • Dress professionally and blandly. You should always dress appropriately for an interview and this is no different, even if you’re home. But avoid busy plaid shirts, stripes, checkerboard patterns, or bright colors. A neutral solid works best on video.
  • Be engaged. Yes, it is harder to do this over video. But keep your eyes on the camera, and don’t let them wander to your phone, open tabs (close these!) or your dog wandering into the room. Remember to look at your camera and not the video of the person you’re talking to. Try to use normal hand gestures too, rather than sitting stiffly for a portrait or mugshot. This is a conversation, not a photoshoot.

You’re ready to rock that interview! At the close, thank your other party and make sure you’ve ended the call before getting up and moving around. Especially if you are wearing your pajama pants. 🙂 Good luck and keep washing those hands.


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