Some advice on interviewing in the time of COVID-19

"Recruiting has taken a turn as well, prompting us to change how we meet with and interview candidates."

At Havas, our global mission is to make a meaningful difference to the brands, business, and people we work. That got me thinking, how do you create a connection with a potential employer and demonstrate your qualifications and excitement to join an organization when you can't meet in person?

In recent weeks, the world has adjusted to doing everything – from meetings to birthday parties to happy hours to pitches – over Zoom. Recruiting has taken a turn as well, prompting us to change how we meet with and interview candidates. While we can hardly call video interviews new, what once operated as the exception has become the rule.

While so much has changed, recruiting goals remain the same: attract the best possible talent, learn more about them, create the best candidate experience, and share a view of what the role and company culture look like. Candidates’ goals also remain unchanged: find a new role that allows them to do great things with people they enjoy working with at a company whose values they share.

I speak to a lot of candidates every week. The stress that has come through in recent conversations focuses on interviewing, switching, and starting jobs in this uncertain climate.  It got me thinking about some of the best practices around video interviews.

Treat It Like a Normal Interview

Prepare – research the company and interview panel. Then, dress for the interview….at least from the waist up and show up to the video interview a few minutes early. Use the restroom before the call and have a glass of water next to you. Above all, be yourself and be authentic!

Find a Quiet, Distraction-Free Place

Check your lighting.  Don’t sit in front of a window…you’ll look like a shadow. Practice screen interviewing with friends or family, including making "eye contact." That said, it’s okay to be human. These are crazy times and the unexpected happens. Kids! Pets! Roommates!

Email an Immediate Thank You Note

Customize each note, referencing what you discussed. If possible, have someone review before you send to check for typos and grammatical errors.

Set Realistic Expectations with Yourself about Hiring Timelines

It’s not you, it’s us. Companies cannot move as quickly as they used to in the hiring process. Follow up with your recruiter, but not too much. Everything is a moving target these days. Recruiters and hiring managers are currently managing so much with their own WFH situations; hiring only comprises a small piece of it all.

Now what? You’ve completed your interview and sent thank you notes. You’re thinking you want the job but have concerns about not having seen the office. Or perhaps you’re worried that you’ve only met a handful of people. What do you do next?

Take a virtual tour of the office through companies’ social pages, website, or ask your recruiter if they have any video that highlights the workspace. Ask to set up virtual coffee with other members of the team, thinking of the discussion as  a casual conversation to understand culture and people.

If you have questions or concerns about how the company is handling the COVID-19 crisis, don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter to set up a discussion with another recent hire who can answer any questions about getting onboarded remotely amidst COVID-19.

There is so much uncertainty out there and it’s not easy for anyone.  We’re all in this together. 

Stay safe, stay sane, and most importantly, stay home!

Josh Fialky is a senior talent acquisition partner at Havas Media.

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