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‘The new normal’ – it’s fast-becoming one of this year’s most-used phrases. Along with ‘you’re on mute’! In fact, it’s rapidly becoming a bit of a cliché. But it’s also a reminder that we all have an opportunity leave our comfort zones, learn new skills or become better at old skills in new ways.

 

Like most people I’d heard of Zoom, I’d dabbled with Skype and I was no stranger to Microsoft Teams pre-2020. But that was back when these tools were merely optional. It’s no exaggeration to say that we all couldn’t have navigated the last few months without them, for one reason or another (is anyone still Zoom-quizzing?). Those who were previously camera-shy or preferred a good old-fashioned face to face meeting (remember them!) had to rapidly gain or feign confidence when faced with a screen full of faces, all seemingly staring directly at you at all times – and that was just with people you knew. Can you imagine having to interview for a new job, a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times, via this new medium.

As a Recruiter for an IT specialist agency, focussing on placing Agile Coaches in positions both across the UK and Europe, I’m fortunate that I’ve both been part of and coached others to prepare for and succeed when being interviewed via Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or WebEx. I’ve read countless articles and blogs which give advice on things to do before an interview via webcam and most of them provide a helpful list of what to do. But, none of them explain the potential pitfalls that face you if you forget one of these steps. So, to remind you of what to do and to help you avoid what not to do, here’s my tips for acing an online interview:

Test your connection with the application prior to your meeting & run an internet speed test…

– It’s the morning of the interview. You’ve used Zoom/Skype/Teams countless times before and never had a problem. Your internet connection has never let you down before. If ever it were to go south it would be minutes before your interview. Being late for an interview because of a cancelled train is one thing, but being late because you couldn’t get online is another. Nor do you want to face an excruciating few minutes of apologising because the interviewer can hear you but can’t see you, whilst you furiously try to figure out what the problem is even though you’ve no idea where to start looking.

Always use headphones or a headset…

– We live in a world of noise cancelling headphones and wireless AirPods (thanks, Apple). Don’t rely upon the tinny speakers and muffled microphone that’s built into your computer. They weren’t designed for the purpose of you knocking an interview out of the park and the sound quality will reflect that. Don’t let your great answer get lost in an echo chamber of your own making.

What’s the dress code…

– What happens below the waist and under the table is your business. But what happens above it should be all business (attire). If you’d wear a suit or business-clothing to a face to face interview then do the same for an online interview. Remember first impressions count, probably more so when that first impression has to be made in 2D.

Pay attention to your background…

– Whilst it’s great that Zoom have provided some comedy/eye catching backgrounds, don’t feel obliged to use them. An interview is not the time to demonstrate your wacky side (wait until you’ve secured the post for that). Find a space in your home with a clear or relatively clear background. The interviewer’s attention should be on you, not the Instagram’able living room that you created behind you.

Minimise any potential external disruption…

– We’ve all seen the comical clips of people being interrupted by their kids whilst trying to hold it together on BBC and Sky news. It’s funny to watch but no one wants to be that person who is simultaneously trying to shepherd their child out of the room whilst nailing the killer answer they were half-way through. Interviewers will be understanding of such situations, but once you’ve lost your composure you might not get it back. Where at all possible, do what you can to ensure that you won’t be interrupted for the duration of the interview. If necessary, ask the interviewer if they can reschedule to a time where you can guarantee there will no distractions. Be honest about the reasons why, they will understand

Be yourself…

– Remind yourself, its an interview. You’ve probably had countless interviews before, albeit not like this, but you know what to do and how to sell yourself. Focus on the face of the interviewer, block out the surroundings and treat it like any interview you’d had before. It’s a simple as that.

With many companies now offering their staff the option to work from home on a permanent basis, the world has suddenly become a much smaller place and opened up exciting possibilities for people to work for a company which is based in an entirely different country to the one they live in. Indeed, many of my European-based clients have already recruited a number of UK based candidates into their vacancies, which has only been made possible thanks to video conference technology.

We are seeing a sharp rise in demand for experienced Agile Coaches, both here in the UK and across Europe, with new vacancies being advertised daily. Never before has there been such an opportunity to gain some international experience, without having to leave your home town. For an informal call about the role you are looking for and how we can help you secure it, contact me today….

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