Virtual Interview Tips For Job Seekers and Interviewees

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Due to COVID-19, many individuals have been permanently/temporarily laid off and furloughed by their employers. I have seen and heard from a handful of individuals who have been raving about offering advice in enhancing their interview skills.

As many sectors and industries are starting to bustle and slowly pick back up on their hiring, many of us are all still on a stay at home order, this could be a great opportunity to practice and enhance our virtual interview skills on during our downtime.

Below, are outlined pointers and constructive suggestions on what many interviewees may be lacking on. Hopefully, these will provide actionable insights on their blind spots.

  • A strategy that interviewees can use to respond to the behavioral questions, are by using the STAR method (specific Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the situation you are describing) and break down examples into a 1, 2, 3 process – three strengths and accomplishments.
  • Interviewees would need to come up with an overview of experiences and look into the camera and the interviewer. Have specific examples of strengths at the workplace; don’t start talking about weaknesses. Make sure to highlight your contributions in handling difficult situations and be specific. Every answer should highlight your skills in some way and how you’ve used it in the work environment.
  • Think about common interview questions as starting points, and the interview might go in different directions based on the interviewee’s responses. This way, the interviewee can think about he/she wants to expand on. For instance, if you talk about your degree, you could explain how it ties in to your prospective job. If you discuss about empathizing with a customer making a complaint, the follow-up questions might be on how you handled the complaint.
  • Before considering submitting your application before wondering if you’d get selected to the interview, ALWAYS be sure to highlight achievements on the resume and make sure your resume have consistent formatting style.
    • The resume needs to explain what motivated you to apply for the X position and why you feel that you are a good fit.
    • The resume needs to highlight the achievements and recognition that you have received in your previous roles.
  • Provide more relevant examples when answering these interview questions. Emphasize motivations of the job application.
    • Use storytelling skills to help the interviewer better understand your experience.
    • When telling your story, do not repeat your resume. Talk beyond your resume! Show your background interest and indicate a turning point/motivation as to why you’re here.
  • It is crucial to give more context and nuances of your experiences and highlighting your skills. Some interviewees tend to answer questions by giving quick answers in a list format. This makes it hard for the interviewer to extract the interviewee’s skill sets from those kinds of responses.
    • Your answers should not lack details. Being more abstract in your answers could help the interviewer to better understand you by preparing a story (with numbers, how you helped benefit the company, client testimonials, etc) that can be used to convince the interviewer.
    • Brainstorm some good projects during school, your contribution, how/why the project was challenging and how you tackled it. It would be ideal if you can highlight these utilizing numbers.
  • You should tie the relevance of your studies/degrees together (those who are college graduates), answers should be focused on your experience (whether it was short or extensive), providing good specific answers and supportive examples, showing your independent work skills, freelance/self-employed work (if applicable) and teamwork skills.
    • If you are a bilingual/trilingual/multilingual native speaker, you should emphasize that! Especially for those who have bilingual experience. This is very important to highlight since this is an asset to have for many employers.
  • Here is the part that most interviewees lack on. What you should do is to be more prepared for questions related to the role that you are applying for. You should be able to prove your knowledge and passion for the field/role in general. Be ready with 2-3 examples of how your previous projects/work will be able to help with that respective job/role related to your field of interest.
  • Interviewees sometimes answer their weakness questions too quickly however, be sure to expand on how you will work on that in your future interviews! How will you work to improve on that weakness and what you can learn from that weakness?
    • For example, you may want to explain how you are developing your own skills outside of work or during your downtime (learning Microsoft suite, attending relevant webinars) in between jobs – this shows you’re taking initiative and that you care about personal growth.
    • Interviewees should try to be more concise with responses to really get the point across. Explain your experience in chronological order to tell a better story of all the skills that have been developed. How will these developed skills help with future roles? Practice telling stories of situations at work that will prove the skills that you have. Have 2-3 examples/stories prepared, so you can answer behavioral questions. Approach questions with confidence – don’t let them know that you’re thinking about an answer or that a question is making you nervous.
  • Be ready to clarify any questions that may arise about your resume. Like, what does CMS stand for? It can stand for a lot of things. Customer Management Services, for instance. It is recommended that you should spell it out so that the interviewer does not have a hard time figuring it out.
    • Generally speaking, you should avoid acronyms on resumes especially if you are applying through their website since chances are – you will have to go through an Applicant Tracking System because it is tailored to the job description’s needs so you want to include everything word for word.
  • Don’t be too insecure! You have the experience already! Now you should just practice more, and work on being more concise with your answers. Focus on the opportunity that you’re interviewing for, what you like about the company and the job description, instead of focusing on the loss.
  • Spend more time talking about yourself, than others in your team. Don’t give them too much credit. You are who the interviewer is more interested in learning about, not your team. They want to know what skills you can bring to the table.
  • While answering questions, interviewees should shorten the context that they give and focus on telling the story in a way that answers the question. You should keep in mind to always be as specific as possible when talking about what you’ve done/accomplished and touch on why it mattered or how you helped other people/the outcome of a project.
    • You should bring up concrete examples that can address the question and keep highlighting the impact of your actions. Interviewees should specify about how they went about doing something (such as examples of steps they took to accomplish or overcome something and what they learned from that) or their rationale for convincing others to do the same.
  • Interviewees may start off with an excellent way of introducing themselves, however they can work on reordering and structuring their introductions to be more cohesive.
  • Highlight your skills and experiences that will be applicable to the role that you are looking for (need to brag a little, don’t be shy, don’t short sell)
  • Call out soft skills as a bonus, highlight “hard” skills relevant for the role first. For instance, if you are applying for finance/analyst roles, highlight the analytical skills and experiences first; instead of highlighting having empathy or being well-rounded first. If looking into compliance roles, highlight your auditing related experiences first.
  • As we all know, a good interviewee is a clear communicator and gives thoughtful answers. Be more confident – don’t say you think you’re not qualified for role because a lot of job seekers tend to accidentally blurt that out because of their loss of hope after receiving multiple rejections.
    • Interviewees should show their self-motivation through various examples by emphasizing that more instead of keeping it implicit, so the interviewee can try to touch on these through the interviewer’s questions – in such a way where they can think about how their work experience in other fields carries over to their desired role.
  • For those who are applying for software development/engineer roles, a good interviewee expresses their interest clearly in different topics and by keeping up-to-date with new technologies.
    • For this particular role, expect the interviews to be more technical rather than behavioral. Talk more and sustain a back-and-forth with the interviewer. (Ask questions, share thoughts aloud, etc). You should possess good ideas related and think through the problem well.
    • In case you are asked to perform unit tests in the interview, it is better to be prepared because it is all about first impression. Practice verifying the code without relying on a compiler. Are you able to supply your own test cases? Can you run through your code with a test case and spot bugs without running the code?
  • It is recommended that interviewees should always ask follow up questions toward the end when an interviewer asks “Do you have any questions?” to show them your continued interest and your consideration for the job; this also helps the interviewee understand real intentions behind a question.
  • This is obvious, however to bring this up as a reminder – regardless of which spectrum you lie on, you should never bring up politics on interviews.

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