Siân Duffin, Student Support Manager at distance learning expert Arden University, shares advice on interviewing during lockdown.
With the current lockdown and furlough, many people will be thinking about their career and a possible change in position, whether that is a promotion, a sideways move or a change of organisation. With social distancing, many interviews are taking place through online means, Skype, Teams, Zoom or similar. This can be a new experience for applicants so here are some tips on how to maximise performance.
Test your equipment before the interview
Do you have good speakers or headphones that you can hear clearly through and equally check that you can be heard through them. If you are being asked to use a platform that you are unfamiliar with, arrange a practice beforehand with a friend or relative. If you will need to share documents, practice this as well. It is advisable to see if you can also email a copy to the people conducting the interview, your technology may be working, but they may have issues at their end with being able to view. Check the procedure for connection issues before and during the interview. Can you re-join or arrange a back-up time in case there is an internet outage or power cut?
Things like where you look can change how you come across. If you can, remove yourself from view. People will naturally look at themselves if they see themselves, so moving this can help you make eye contact through the camera. Check where the camera is on your equipment and get used to looking there. Try reading out a paragraph of a book or talking about a topic you know well. If you can, get someone else to listen and give you feedback on what you look and sound like. Check what is behind you in view or use a virtual background or blur it if you are more comfortable with that
Be prepared to answer questions around remote working
You may find questions that you wouldn’t have received before, especially around things like remote working and leading a remote team. What are your strengths here and what have you found challenging? Have you found innovative ways to connect with your team? Use practical examples that show how you cope with unexpected events. Research if you can, how the company you might join has managed the lockdown and remote working and align your answers with what they are saying is working well for them. If you are in a sector where there is government guidance on the return to work, make sure you are aware of it and can talk about how to incorporate it.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify the question
This is always better than a vague answer because you aren’t sure what they want. Use as many examples of your practice as you can to illustrate your answers but avoid saying how your current company does it better. You want to show your transferable skills, not sell your current role and organisation to the hiring one.
Smile at the interviewers, use the interviewers names and also non-verbal communication, nod, use your hands when you talk, it all adds to a sense of your enthusiasm and engagement for the role which can be more difficult to communicate through a screen. Confidence is something that will always be attractive to an employer, even if you feel nervous, focus on what you do well, and why you are the best person for the job.
Arden University – www.arden.ac.uk – is a modern university that offers a more flexible way to study, enabling students to ‘learn whilst they earn’ through either distance or blended learning options. Blended learning combines self-study with face-to-face, tutor-led teaching at one of Arden’s five Study Centres in London, Manchester and Birmingham. A more accessible option than campus-based universities, Arden’s entry requirements and costs make it a more practical choice especially for candidates who haven’t been in education for a while, are juggling work-life commitments, or who are now returning to education having chosen a different path after leaving school. The university believes that the purpose of Higher Education is to further career prospects by equipping students with the right skills for the workplace. With this aim in mind, businesses are invited onto Arden’s validation boards to continually review and iterate course content. As a result, Arden students graduate not only with up-to-date and relevant workplace knowledge and skills but also, often, having secured a promotion at work too.
If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.