Effective Communication and Networking with Employers

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How you network during your career search involves how you show up. This is super important since this will determine how the conversation will go.

When you pick up your phone for a job interview or just to speak with an employer that you scheduled a call to speak with, first impressions are paramount. Why? Because the minute the first impression you give to that person, that’s what they remember you by or as, and that first impression will determine whether you go to the next conversation or whether they want to have a follow up conversation with you.

For instance, you want to introduce yourself and initiate how you found out about the job posting. Express your interest and share with the employer on what you knew about the company. If the company is into serving the community, mention that. You want to be able to give the company a quick snapshot recap of who they were in your eyes and why you want to be a part of that brand.

The most common question that I am sure that you have been asked during an interview was, “Why do you want to work for Company ABC?” Make sure the things you mention are not just your interest but also what you know about them. This includes your response to how the company aligns with what they are doing, what their missions and values are and how you can relate/contribute to them.

You can say something along the lines of, “Company ABC stands for a lot of things that I believe in. I see that you do a lot of things in the community and for the community.” Share relevant experiences that you have done in the past — say like a part-time job to pay off your student loans, internships, etc.
If you have worked for a job that involves youth and if everything Company ABC does in the community is helping the youth, that would be something good to share with them. So when they have a youth from the community saying they want to work for that company because they do that on such a larger scale, they would be excited to hear your motives and what you are driven by. “I want to gain experience”, “I’m a quick learner”, “I am able to multi-task”.

Chances are, the employer will be intrigued by what you have told them and they will want to bring you in for an interview. Therefore, first impressions are paramount when you think about networking. The first minute that you show up, the first way they see you should make a positive impact in that moment. So it’s in that moment where you can make a difference.

Many job seekers often think that networking can be thrown to the side once they land the job. Networking isn’t over once you begin your job. It is crucial to continue building that relationship by following up and staying in touch with your connections. Being ready to experience new things and asking insightful questions to learn about someone are always helpful to keep the conversation going.


What is Effective Communication?

Communication is a process and there’s so many processes we go through. If you break down the word Effective Communication:

Effective is defined as “successful in producing a desired outcome or intended result“.
Communication is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information or news“.

Now if you bring those two words together, Effective Communication is defined as “verbal speech or other methods of relaying information that get a point across. It is also when you achieve a desired outcome by sharing key information or news. Simply put, it is being able to clearly convey a message to the other person.

So, what makes it effective — what is your desired outcome? And is the desired outcome of the conversation the intended results? That is important when you think about effective communication. We communicate in multiple ways everyday. But how you communicate is very important. Is it the outcome that you want to get it across to the other person or to the audience? And when you achieve that, you can see that you achieved that because you get results or immediate, instant feedback from the person or audience that you are talking to.

An example of an effective communication is when the person you are talking to — listens actively, absorbs your point and they understand it. You also need to listen in a way that gave the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood. It is a two way street — you are sharing, but you are also absorbing, and you are actively listening to the other person on their response.


What Are Some Barriers to Effective Communication?

  • Judging the other person — Sometimes when someone is talking to us, we are already deciding or thinking about the outcome/sizing them up.
  • Not paying attention to the other person you are talking to — This shows that you are not intently listening and this can distract you from conversing with that person and they can see if you are not paying attention.
  • Assuming intent of the other person — You are going to assume the message that the other person is trying to get across to you without listening to the person that is speaking to you.
  • Using technical language — One thing that has always been uncomfortable in effective communication is when people use jargon and words that we are not familiar with. This crosses a block in others not understanding or comprehension what message the person is trying to get across OR what you are trying to get across to the audience.
    • For example, a hiring manager/recruiter can refrain from using any corporate language (from within their organization) when he/she is trying to share about what the company is to the job seeker — who doesn’t know fully anything about that company.
    • Some companies use acronyms like clothing brands to communicate internally that externals might not know, so that is when the full name/phrase/word will need to be elaborated.
    • Don’t use technical language if you don’t know if the other person knows it. You are really just trying to build a relationship with that person.
  • Providing solutions or unwanted advice — Sometimes, you can provide a solution to something and that person did not ask for the advice yet. This can be a quick way to deescalate the conversation and might end up cutting it short. Wait for the open door. Wait for someone to say, “Oh — what did you think about what I just shared with you?” Actively listen to the information that they are sharing and engaging you with. Let them open the door for any questions/opinions that they may have for you.
  • Avoiding the concern of others
  • Not having an open mindset going into the conversation

What Happens in a Conversation When We Communicate Effectively?

  • Nodding your head — showing the other person that you completely understand
  • Builds and fosters a great relationship with others
  • Builds better trust
  • Increases your engagement — People want to ask questions. It becomes more of a conversation rather than just a topic of effective communication.
  • Improves productivity
  • Provides clarity and direction — If it’s communicated clearly between you and the other person, it will be executed exact on what needs to get done. If there is no clarity or direction, this will lead to more questions — as a clear indication that you did not understand, nor did you actively listen in that conversation of the initial communication, or the statement made by the other person was not clear enough.
  • Promotes team building

Effective Communication Skills

  • Active listening
  • Being aware of non-verbal communication
    • As you are communicating, you are paying attention to their body language. If you are communicating and someone is looking down, that’s saying that the person is not engaged with you right now; they’re not with you; they’re not understanding what you are saying. Also, there could be a possibility of that person not being open to what you are sharing.
  • Asking questions
    • When you are communicating effectively, you can also ask questions and the other person can ask questions as well to ensure that engagement is happening two-way.
  • Be clear
  • Clarify & Summarize
  • Be empathetic
    • Especially when it comes to someone else’s opinion
    • Be empathetic as well when you are sharing out information.
      • What are you communicating?
      • Is the information that you are communicating — is it for everyone? Or are you leaving certain people out?
    • Be inclusive in your communication
  • Give feedback and be open to it
    • Feedback is a gift. People will always give you feedback whether you want it or not. Sometimes
  • Be honest
    • Always be authentic and be your true self while you are being your professional self.
      • If you are in an environment where you are in an interview, the way you communicate is super important. There are words that you wouldn’t use in an interview that you would when you are communicating casually with friends/family.
  • Control your emotions

Listening is a skill that not too many people do well on. And it’s because people listen to respond versus listening to understand. If someone is communicating to you and sharing an idea/thought or even introducing themselves, you don’t want to interrupt them. You want to continue listening to them so that they can have their moment of their introduction. When it’s your turn to speak, then it’s your turn to speak.

There is a moment where there is someone on the other side who will say, “Hey do you have any questions for me?” and that’s when you can ask the questions and anything that you need more clarity on. However, when we listen to respond, it doesn’t have the conversation to flow easily. It doesn’t help the conversation. It makes it like a roadblock and a barrier because they are sharing potential opportunities and you are not listening to their perspective. It’s not always your perspective, it’s someone else’s as well.

You need to have an open mindset when you go into any conversation.


5 C’s of Effective Communication

Important for not just in the workplace or job search but also in daily life.

  • Clarity — Be clear
  • Consistency — Be consistent with your communication style. Show up consistently. Don’t give different communication styles. Be clear and stick to the information that you are sharing. Don’t share one information with one group, and then change your complete content on what you are sharing with another person.
    • If you are consistent with your connection, they will have to be consistent with you.
  • Creativity — Be creative in your approach. You will meet different people (networking).
    • Are you creative in the way that you are connecting with this person?
    • Every person requires a different approach. You won’t be able to just say the same thing to different people. You do have to curate that message and tailor it into your person and audience.
      • Knowing your audience is very important when you are communicating to that person or your audience.
  • Content — Make sure the content is relevant to what the other person wants to know. Or make sure it’s content in reference to content. Make sure what you are sharing makes sense.
  • Connections — The connections that you make are super important. Even in that communication when you are connecting with — what is the impression that you are going to leave for that other person

How to Be a Better Communicator

  • Be slow to speak, but quick to listen
  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror
  • List down your affirmations and manifest them
  • Be clear

In a job interview, if the interviewer asks the interviewee — “Tell me about yourself”, that is the moment for you to get your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch would need to stick to the question and not go off into something else. Practicing would help your elevator pitch be delivered in the right way.

Example: “Hi my name is ______, I work in recruiting services. I applied for this job because I saw all the work that you have been doing behind the scenes for candidates. The candidate experience is super important to your brand. I am very interested in learning how to expand on my knowledge in how the candidate experience shows up from your company’s point of view. I am very excited to be here today to learn more. I am ready and eager to learn.”

Just being able to share that upfront when you have that moment to share who you are.

Have a plan. Go into the conversation with an agenda so that you don’t digress. Stay on top to apply your outcome. Have an agenda on whatever you are going to talk about today. That way, people will have an idea on what you are going to be talking about, that you execute everything that you want to execute, and that you and your attendees walk away knowing the content that both parties discussed about.


Career Networking

Networking is defined as “involves using personal, professional, or academic contacts to assist with a job search. Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get in at a company you’d like to work with.”

You find out information when you seek information, so it involves you actively reaching out to someone else who has the job that you want or works at the company that you want to work for. It also involves you using some of your personal and professional contacts. There’s people that you will meet everyday that will become a part of your network. As you meet someone, they become a part of your network. That could be from social media, in-person event, phone, LinkedIn, or any kind of online platform.

If you master networking, a cool tip to remember is to start with what you know. You will have a different approach every time to someone that you meet. Knowing the time and place is important. There’s a time to network, there’s a time to say “Good morning, my name is Michelle” and keep it moving.

For example, you are at an event. You are showing up to the event. There is a room of people, you are at the door and you are trying to get inside the event, and someone walks up to you at the door and greets you. If they are trying to network with you at that time, that is not the time to network. You will be blocking the entrance while others are trying to get into the door to the event. That is not the right time nor the right place.

Let’s say you are at a job fair. You walk around the room and you get to meet different employers. That is absolutely the right time to network. Networking with the golden mind of not taking up too much of that recruiter’s/team’s time by knowing when to move on to the next table. State your name, what your interests are, “here’s my resume”, or “I applied online”. Any quick facts that you could share with the HR team and anything that you think would be good for them to know about you, say it at the table. Grab the employer’s business card and gifts if there are any freebies left out on the table, and come back.

The recruiter’s most likely going to say, “If you have time, I am so sorry because the line is so long. I am trying to get to everyone but if you have a minute, come back to the table and let’s talk again.” But it’s all about how you predicate and present yourself to the recruiter because it let’s them know and gives them the impression if they are sparked to have another conversation with you or not.


Benefits of Networking

  • Develop your career
  • Build your personal brand — How do you show up? How you show up is how they will perceive you. When you show up at a networking event, you don’t ask for a job. You ask for information. When you’re at a job fair, that is the time for you to talk about a job. But when you are at a public event, and you are seeing someone in the room that you have always wanted to talk to, don’t ask for a job — ask for information.

    Example: “Hi my name is ____. I’m not sure if you remember who I was from last time. I was the person who did the community event with you … (and so on) I’ve always wanted to know, could you tell me a little bit about what you do, so could you share what it is that you love most about your brand/company? Or a little bit of the work that we did together last week?”
  • Re-evaluate your qualifications — After networking with someone, they may share a nugget about that job and that could leave you with — “Wow I didn’t even think about that.. I would need to re-evaluate the qualifications that I may have left out of my resume because I thought that I would need to leave Volunteering off my resume. But he just told me that he volunteered at 3 city jobs, and that was what helped him get the job.”
  • Support from your community — Having a community — and that is a community of people that you met. That helps you to get more support and more people for you to go to and get advice from.
  • Raise your profile — If you are on LinkedIn, and if you are not — you should sign up. It is the #1 career networking platform. People get to know you because you are adding people, building your connections and it raises your profile to the level of “Wow this person is connected to this person I know.” When people see that you are connected to these people, it helps to raise awareness and they will want to reach out to their connection who knows of that person that they want to get to know more about.
  • Get fresh ideas — Sometimes, when you are networking — you learn new things from somebody else in the conversation and that’s a part of re-evaluating your qualifications.
  • Gain more knowledge
  • Get career advice

Do’s and Don’t’s of Networking

  • Knowing a time and a place — Don’t corner someone at a door or in an inappropriate place where you can’t network and it prevents them from moving.
  • Let them be the person to want to talk to you. Do not force the conversation if the person is not engaged, or if you did not build that initial contact or relationship.
  • Have your information ready. Don’t introduce yourself and blank out when they ask you to tell them about yourself. Be ready. When you network, you need to have your stuff ready. You want to make a good connection. You are exchanging business information — such as a phone number or email. Don’t take it personal if they do not want to give out a phone number. They may not have a phone number. They may just communicate via email.
    • Be empathetic to some of those barriers/things that may be
  • Leverage social media. Such as, getting on LinkedIn. If you are not on that platform, you will need to sign up. Create your profile, have your resume, have a line up of who you are, the interests you have, etc. Get that polished and then start adding to your network.
  • The most important part of networking is TALKING. If you are afraid to talk to someone else because you are shy or introverted, it is highly encouraged that is to get in front of the mirror and practice.
  • Another important part of networking is FOLLOW UP. You meet great people everyday and you never talk to them again. You have to keep the conversation going. Say “Hi, I’m not sure if you remember me. Just checking in to see if there’s any opportunities” and this can be via email. That is to keep the networking going and this gets the person to remember you. You want to have a network that is not going to let you go, and instead keep you in the loop.
    • Even if you don’t get a job with them or you don’t get the outcome that you really wanted, it still shows them that you are a real person and that you want to keep this network/conversation going.
    • Share a success story when you met with someone, because with your story — you can help to empower someone else and they will totally understand you. They will understand some of the things you have faced as a candidate. Maybe it could be applying for a job, or some of the things that you have implemented on your last job so that they’ll get who you are as a person. It’s not always about the professional aspect. It can be the little things — likes/dislikes that your network can relate to about you. That can bring your network closer to you.
  • If you are networking virtually like on Google Meet or Zoom, it is encouraged that you have your camera on because people will get to see you and the conversation becomes more meaningful and interactive. It shows that you are present, engaged and fully paying attention. Make sure your background is not distracting. Connection is through eyes — eye contact. This allows us to learn from each other.
  • If you don’t know how to start a conversation, you can lead it with an ice breaker! This gives the opportunity for people to introduce themselves.
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Effective Virtual Interviewing (Spectrum Edition)

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During the interview process, there are many ideal competencies and traits that Spectrum is looking for. Spectrum likes their employees to be great communicators, problem solvers, adaptable, detail-oriented among others, enthusiastic efficient and don’t forget – technologically savvy! These are what make a successful employee at Spectrum.

Spectrum’s Talent Acquisition Senior Recruiter of 15 years in the Greater NYC area speaks and shares his 9 tips in this article to job seekers.


When preparing for that interview, a hiring manager typically reaches out to Talent Acquisition and asks to schedule an interview. In most cases nowadays since 2020, that interview will most likely be virtual instead of being in person. This scenario is becoming increasingly more common. Nearly 75% of executives use real time video to interview their leading candidates and 50% of them leverage it to narrow down their applicants. The process enables employers to open up their talent pool to interview candidates who live all around the globe, and not just the ones who live down the street. It also cuts down on traveling expenses.

So with that virtual interview or video interview, well it’s a normal job interview that leverages video technology where a lot of conversations take place remotely. So rather than meeting face to face, the manager and the candidate are going to connect with each other online using video softwares. The tools typically required for these types of meetings involves a computer, a built-in external/internal video/camera and a microphone, a reliable internet connection (try not to do it wirelessly because most of the time that won’t work very well), and headphones if desired.

So generally a video interview follows the style of a traditional in-person interview. Here’s going to be a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • For perspective employee, try to make that pitch by a video conferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout. It may be a bit daunting, especially if you are not accustomed to it.

I will give you 9 virtual interviewing tips to reduce the stress, aid in helping you stand out of the crowd, and in the end hopefully help you land a job – whether that is with Spectrum or with another company, these tips still work.


1. Test your technology. The minute you agree to a virtual interview, you need to ensure that you test your technology and ensure that you are set up for success. You want to also check your internet connectivity, you’re going to confirm that your camera and microphone is working. If the picture is blurry or you’re experiencing an echo, you might need to buy a different webcam, you might need to not use the computer’s built-in microphone – but use the speaker phone instead or a separate phone. So this is going to be hard to do 5 minutes before so you don’t want to wait until the day of the interview to figure it out. Most computers these days will allow you to use the audio and video connection. Some of them, will have a choice of using just one single device for this video and the audio. But when you have the option to use separate devices, that is the option you ought to take (one phone for the video portion and one phone for the audio portion – like a phone, laptop or tablet).

Of course in some instances, you are able to just only use that one single device but that’s only going to work if everybody is on the same network – for example, if you are doing internal interviews. But when everyone is on separate networks, the best practice is ensuring you don’t lose the connection altogether – if you prefer to use separate devices.

Here’s a note to keep in mind. On the day of your virtual interview, you will also want to test your internet connection again even though you tested it a few days before. Make sure you do it on the morning of.

Being technologically savvy is one of the 10 traits that employers are going to look for. If you come onto the virtual interview fumbling around with your audio or your lighting during the call, you’re giving the hiring manager a reason to question if you’re the right candidate for the job. Make sure you do not only test it beforehand, but on the day of, you’re going to test it again.


2. Be aware of the surroundings. You’re going to set the scene, minimize the amount of distractions while testing your technology, determines where the interview is going to take place. You want to find a room with optimal lighting, preferably near a window or a wall. Somehow, you’ll be able to guarantee that you are the focal point of the conversation. So the best practice in relation to lighting is to simply set up a bright light that is focused on your face. This should at least as bright as or be brighter than the background behind you. Therefore, this will help you and your personality stand out. It will minimize the background. Also, if you are using window lights as the light changes, because sometimes it gets very bright and sometimes it gets very dark – where in some cases it will cause your camera to start struggling and it will become a distraction to the interviewer instead of the help you thought it might be. Choose the lamp effectively.

Whether you sit on your living room couch or home office, be sure to tidy up your surroundings. It is hard to convince the employers that you are detail-oriented or you are organized, when they are looking behind you and they visibly see papers all over your desk. This might sound remedial, but trust me – as a recruiter, we see this all the time. You need to think, sit in front of your computer and look at yourself and behind you – what the hiring manager will be seeing in the background.

Once you have all of that settled, you are going to want to limit your distractions. This means turning off the TV, turning off the stereo, closing any nearby windows just so you can muffle traffic and neighborhood noise.


3. Sit down and be prepared to engage. Just because you’re in front of a computer, doesn’t mean you can search the web for answers in a middle of an interview OR avoid to start clicking around when a hiring manager asks you a question. So you want to appear focused and ready to answer the question without the help of the internet. No one wants to think that you are cheating on your answers. Trust me, it happens.

You want to do your research on the company ahead of time before you sit down. Print out a copy of your resume and have it near by so you don’t get the key talking points that you want to bring up. However, as with any interview, you’re going to come prepared with answers to any coming questions. This isn’t particularly an interviewing conference call, but there are some that you are going to know how to answer. For example, “why are you interested in the role?”, “what do you know about the company that you are interviewing with?”, “what do you consider your greatest weakness?”, “what do you consider your greatest professional achievement?”, “tell me about some of your challenges and how you dealt with them”, “what are you looking for in a new role and why are leaving your current role?”

The key here is, you want to avoid memorizing each response. That’s not engaging. You don’t want to over rehearse. Instead, write some high level thoughts down on a post-it and stick it to your computer. So being aware of how far your eyes are moving from the screen, because if your notes are far away, it will appear that you are searching for your answers and reading them instead of engaging in that dialogue.Note that you don’t want your notes resting on your lap or from a place where you want to look far away from the screen. In that case, it is going to come quite apparent that every time you are answering a question, you are looking away from your interviewer for an answer. Of course, that is not a good plan.

You want to come prepared and engaged. And how do you engage? You will do that by practicing our next tip below.


4. You have to come mentally thinking about this being a “dialog”, not something that is memorized. So you are going to have to practice. Practice on your dialog that you will have with your interviewer. Don’t focus on trying to memorize all of your anticipated responses. You’re not going to get all of your questions asked anyway. When you have an interview, you want to have a good conversation. Not rehearsing the points that you memorized, because you are going to sound like a robot throughout the interview, whether you are answering, asking or even giving your quick elevator pitch. It is easy to tell that you do not sound genuine.

It is a good practice to run through a practice with your friend. Pull your family members in and have that conversation. This is going to give you a chance to rehearse with different personalities since each person will be asking you a question or answering you a bit differently and it will throw you off so that you will be more ready when you begin to interview with your employer.

So while you are practicing your interview with your friends and family, it might seem a little awkward. But one of the keys that will benefit you from doing that though is you will have a safe atmosphere where it is okay to make mistakes. You can learn from them. You may not have answered the way you thought you should have or you didn’t come across the way you anticipated. That’s where you can hone in your interview skills so that you are better prepared for the real thing.

It is really important that when you are interviewing, you’ve got to keep it really simple. You don’t want to feel like you have to give a long-winded answer if a short answer will do. You won’t know that until you practice some of those answers. So being able to be clear and concise is the most important thing that you are going to need to do in a job interview. So a great answer will always tell your interviewer at least 3 things. Every one of those answers put it on the back of your mind. That answer ought to say what you did on the job. You don’t want to say how well you did what you did on the job. And the very important one you ought not to leave out, because most people do, is your answer ought to tell what was the impact of the action you had on the business or project. So what you did, how well you did it, and the impact it had.

When you prepare those types of answers and you are able to give them freely without memorizing them, or at least not sounding like you memorized them, now you are ready to have a dialogue with your interviewer – and not just a rehearsed, memorized set of answers.

Well that in fact, brings us to our next point. First impressions still count, even in a virtual environment. In with that in mind, there will be 2 tips that I’m going to mention.


5. Monitor your body language.  Obviously, you can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or easily exude enthusiasm through the video, but what you can do is monitor your body language. The main way to communicate confidence during these interviews; well, you’re going to sit up straight, you’re going to smile, you’re going to keep your camera at eye level. You want to avoid the tendency to look at yourself on the computer monitor while you talk. I would suggest you put your computer/laptop on a box so that your eyes are right on the center of the screen and you’re not looking down on yourself, or having to look far up because research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you say if you are maintaining eye contact. So you want to keep your focus on your camera when you’re talking – not looking at the hiring manager. The time when you look at the hiring manager is when he/she is talking.

This brings us to the 6th tip here. You gotta make those first impressions count.


6. Dress for success. So you might be sitting on your bed, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of the bed. You want to dress like you’re going for an in-person interview. Just because a person can’t see what you are wearing from waist level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to dress. For men, you’re going to wear a button up shirt and dress pants. For women, you might want to consider a dress, skirt and/or a blouse. Besides not knowing if for some reason you’re going to have to suddenly stand up in the middle of an interview, well professional clothing will show that you are serious about the job.

Well, there are personal benefits as well. Studies show that people feel the most authoritative, trustworthy and confident when they are wearing formal business attire. So when you feel good about yourself, it is easier to execute a lot of these tips especially our next one.


7. Connect on a Personal Level. You never know how many interviews a company may conduct for a position. You may be at a long list of people that the hiring manager or recruiter spoke to that day. That’s why it is important to make that small connection. So don’t be afraid to have a short aside about a common interest when you’re in an interview. The recruiter or hiring manager might enjoy the break from the routine questions that they have gone through that day.

You and I know that it is not easy to connect with everyone, but it is a crucial part of the interview. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself or connect about that one thing you discovered that you both like. Take a moment and touch on it, because you want the interviewer to be able to remember a story you told or a common interest that you both share. That is one of the best ways to prevent you from simply blending in with everyone else who came in and interviewed for the same spot.

Trust me, these little tips are what we as recruiters go through each and everyday. We trust that that investment in your time and you will be able to remember these. Use them on yourself and you will see the difference in your own interviewer.

Now, making that connection will really come from a predetermined mindset to employ this next to last tip.


8. Be Yourself. The hiring team is essentially looking for the interviewee to answer 2 major questions. The whole point of the interview: 1) Can you do the work that they need? But guess what, there’s another side. 2) Will you be able to fit into the company culture and department that the hiring manager has as well?

A key task for the recruiting and hiring team is in determining whether in fact, yes – you can do the work, but how will you fit in the team/company’s culture? This can be challenging during your virtual interview because there’s this physical disconnect. We don’t get to see your whole body and we don’t see how you reply to every question, or are your feet moving around a lot, or are you twirling your fingers. We don’t get to see a lot of those verbal or visual cues that helps to go along with your comfort level. So it’s more difficult for your interviewer to understand your enthusiasm or screen them, so make sure that you are more expressive when you are answering the questions.

If you want to use your hands, you may want to do that freely. Let your expressions be bold. If you are a more of a straightforward kind of person, be sure that you’re using those active listing techniques so that your dialogue is free and flowing between you and the interviewer.

Some people are great interviewers. They’re going to be able to tell your vibe. They’re going to be able to tell if you’re going to fit the company culture right off the bat. With that being said, you want to be able to walk away and give your interviewer a reason to push you to the second round of the interview, by shining a light on how you can help the organization grow.

This begins with not just with can you just do the work, but can you fit into the company culture. They are not looking for a robot. They are looking for you. So be sure that you are being yourself on these interviews.

This is going to lead us to our last point.


9. Don’t forget the Professional Graces. As soon as that interview is done, you’re going to do some immediate follow up within at least 24 hours of the interview. You’re going to send an individual Thank You Email to everyone you met. Sometimes they don’t provide you with that information so you should send that Thank You Note to your recruiter and they will forward it to the leadership team. But, make sure you’re taking that extra step.

Put it in a Word Document so you can upload it to your profile so the next recruiter can see that you’re communicative and that you possess those professional graces. It’s not only going to show that you valued your interviewer’s time, but it’s going to give you the opportunity to resell yourself and express your unique traits that you can bring to the role, or share any talking points that you forgot to address.

If there was something specific that you have bonded over during the interview, you want to mention it briefly and follow up in the Thank You Email so you can keep it on the top of your mind.

Or, if the interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, you’re going to use that to follow up; as a way to propose that potential solution – saying something to the affect of: “It was fantastic to have met you today and I remembered one of the challenges that the business had was ITEM A and here’s what I have done in the past that I can do to help.”

You want to keep the email concise of course. It is not a paragraph. You want to just leave a short note and leave a lasting impression, not one that will immediately end up in the circular file because it was too large or too long.


These are the key tips that we as recruiters have seen either in people that are not employed OR employed effectively. It helps them stand out and be remembered. They bring the right successful profile, but if they’re not able to get the hiring manager to remember it, then that becomes a challenge.

In a Post-Pandemic World: Best Practices on Improving Virtual Employee Engagement

Looking to better understand how HR and leaders/managers are engaging their teams and keeping morale positive with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us all?
I have outlined some of the best practices for maintaining virtual employee engagement while we are all working from home.

Virtual team building activities are a wonderful engagement tool – such as leading an interesting ice breaker, which can help improve the lack of communication that some colleagues/team members may have, especially since working from home now can be isolating and depressing for many of us. This really helps colleagues spend time together to enjoy and reduce stress.
This is a good tactic for team members, leaders and managers to organize – to drive employee motivation and engagement, and an effective way to get everyone to know each other personally and professionally – and even learn from each other’s innovative ideas.
To ensure its success, during the team meetings (smaller groups), leaders and managers should have each team member take turns to come up with an ice breaker before the next meeting. That way, everyone has a chance to participate and can contribute to something.
In staff meetings (larger groups), leaders and managers should come up with a different kind of virtual activity that will boost everyone’s productivity. It is a great warm up for the brain before getting into serious discussions – such as guessing games like Trivia and Taboo.
The only uncertainty to this approach is settling with the right activity for everyone in the meeting because not every employee will enjoy the game.

Image via Shutterstock
  • Creating an online leeway is also another way of engaging and motivating employees during this time. There should be leisure time for employees where they can discuss freely on non-work related stuff. Remember, we are humans and not robots. We need leisure activities to help us maintain a great work-life balance that will positively impact our mindsets, in such a way where we can invest in our physical and mental health. This also helps employees create a sense of community by reducing the sensation of social distancing.
  • Below are some ideas of virtual leisure activities where employees can network and connect with their teammates on both a personal and professional level. The most popular platforms to host these events would be Zoom or Google Meet.
    ☻ Virtual Lunch Meetings
    ☻ Virtual Wellness Programs (Workout Sessions, Dance Lessons, Yoga/Meditation Classes, Ergonomics, Talent Shows, Karaoke)
    ☻ Virtual Hackathons
    ☻ Virtual Happy Hour
    ☻ Virtual Community Engagement Events
    ☻ Virtual Team Retreats
    ☻ Virtual Zoom Workshops/Organized Discussions
    > Show and Tell: Employees sharing a favorite object/memory and explaining the importance of it to others
    > Interactive training to increase employee development
    > Guess The Person: Employees can quiz their colleagues and figure out who’s who

    Of course, every organization has a different perspective and their own ways of proposing their team building communication tools. For more inspiration and creative ideas that you may want to engage your team members in, check out this article on SnackNation which provides 52 Virtual Team Building Activities To Boost Remote Employee Morale In 2020.

    Virtual office hours can bring employees closer together and connect in real time. You want to first establish a communication tool that works best with your team. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced employees to work from home. This gives them the freedom to work flexibly and stay connected to their work regardless of time and location.
    Clear your schedule and give 3-5 hours a week of your availability to catch up with colleagues to answer any urgent questions/issues that they may have regarding a task/project, OR to just even chat.
    The best team communication tools at the moment that I’ve been hearing are: Slack, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Skype, Trello and Google Meet / Google Hangouts. They are completely free of cost to use and especially beneficial for non-profits. However, there are more resources below that you are not limited to:

    The 15 Best Internal Communication Tools (via ContactMonkey)
    Best online collaboration software of 2020: paid and free tools for work sharing and communication (via TechRadar)
Image via Shutterstock

Maintain visibility with your supervisors, team, collaborators and upper management. It is crucial to keep them up to date with what you are working on since there is no micromanagement when working from home. It isn’t as easy as those days where your supervisor was just a cubicle away from you and can come to check in on you whenever convenient. This is a good way to maintain effective communication (face-to-face via Zoom) – not only in staying up to date with team projects, tasks and meeting deadlines, but this also gives supervisors a chance to track your progress and be there to guide you on whatever challenges you may have. The key to a robust workforce and effective employee engagement is to ensure that their contributions and industriousness are being acknowledged. Recognizing their hard work and achievements, propels and motivates employees in delivering the best results.

Image via Shutterstock

Watch your tone (especially when you are not communicating face-to-face).
One of the biggest drawbacks of written communication is miscommunication. This can trigger misunderstandings and misinterpretations between the sender (you) and the recipient (them). Normally, many of us use visual and verbal cues when communicating face-to-face, which adds meaning to the things we say – and that includes our body languages, hand gestures and facial expressions. However, since everything has shifted to remote work, the lack of these signals can cause our messages to come across as rude or something that we did not intend it to be. We should be mindful that as we are emailing others, it can be helpful to humanize and illuminate the tone of these messages through our clarifications. I suggest that adding a smiley face emoji and starting off the email with a warm tone such as, “I hope this email finds you, your coworkers and your loved ones safe and well during these uncertain times” can really lighten up the mood of a message.

Start a blog and create weekly posts. RECOGNITION. Highlight employee achievements. Include employee and client testimonials and stories. This does not only promote employer branding and visibility, but this is also the main strategy in maintaining employee retention as it makes them feel more connected to their organization. According to Impraise, when a manager takes time to regularly demonstrate gratitude and appreciation for an employee’s accomplishments it can motivate, engage, and reinforce positive behaviors and outcomes. Similarly, with the rise of project teams and more collaborative workplaces, it’s also important to create a culture where positive peer feedback is exchanged amongst the people you work most closely with.

Last but not least, please don’t forget to take mini breaks, short walks and practice on self-care. It is super important for all of us to catch up on self-care during times like this. It is okay to give yourself permission to pause and clear up your mind. Remember, it is not selfish to take the time for yourself.

… If you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself.

Dalai Lama

Internal Values and Effective Communication Within the Organization

While everyone is working remotely from home due to the global crisis, it is important that colleagues keep the office culture alive and maintain that effective communication. You want to limit the distractions and practice your daily work routine – such as dressing up for success, and setting your own boundaries. This will definitely reduce procrastination. Most importantly, when you set and prioritize your goals, you can accomplish so much. And this begins with having a dedicated workspace to yourself.

Smarp outlined a very resourceful article that will help improve the Workplace Communication: 20 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Your Employees.

I have also created an infographic below illustrating some of the main points of effective communication because working from home can cause things to drift and we don’t want that. We don’t want miscommunication.


Q & A’s with Colleagues

During this uncertain and unprecedented time, I felt that it is very important to know how your teammates and colleagues are doing emotionally. We are all humans. We are there to support one another and provide feedback.

When talking about improving employee motivation, satisfaction, engagement and productivity, companies have mostly been focusing on employee recognition, feedback and appreciation. However, are we focusing enough on continuous employee communication?

blog.smarp.com


I have gathered some Q&A’s from colleagues regarding how they feel about their current job, which involves their confidence level and their ideal employers. Their names will remain anonymous.


1. What do you enjoy most about your role and the work you do for your organization?

Colleague 1 (Work Readiness Instructor/Mental Health Counselor)
The management for the organization is pretty laid back and doesn’t micromanage. Upper management has an open door policy.

Colleague 2 (Basic Skills Instructor)
What I like best about my current job is having a very considerate and supporting team. As I am a mom with two very young kids, once in a while I might need to switch my teaching time slot with other instructors, and sometimes I might even need to bring my kids to work. My team members are very supportive and have never ever said no to any of my requests.

Colleague 3 (Director of Career and Community Development)
Although not for profit, I enjoy and appreciate the opportunities to learn and grow professionally. I especially appreciate the fact that the work I do focus on ONE goal. Goal of educating, seeking and striving alongside those wanting to achieve self-sufficiency and attain personal/professional growth.

Colleague 4 (Mobile Jobs Program Coordinator)

My colleagues and upper management is what I like best about my job. They fully trust me with any type of work or project that I do and give me the autonomy. In addition, I like the fact that I get to be creative to help people who are in need.

Colleague 5 (Summer Youth Internship Coordinator and Adult Literacy Instructor)
This is my first time working in a non-profit organization. I love the decentralized organizational structure of our organization. It allows me to able to collaborate with and learn from individuals from other departments more easily. Also, it enables me to develop new knowledge and skills in the cross-department tasks.

Colleague 6 (Special Projects Coordinator)

Having worked with non-profits for a long time, I like that my line of work has a real positive impact on people’s lives, and I can work with colleagues who genuinely care about what they do.


2. What do you find in your role and organization that is special and unique and sets apart from other organizations?

Colleague 1 (Work Readiness Instructor/Mental Health Counselor)
The organization has more of a family feel to it. The organizational culture is pretty laid back.

Colleague 2 (Basic Skills Instructor)
This is my first job in the USA, so it is no way for me to make any comparison. But I used to be a Chinese teacher in Hong Kong. Compared to the international school I used to work in HK, our organization doesn’t put too much pressure on me, which is good for a working mom like me. As a teacher in HK, I needed to accomplish many goals during an academic year, such as cover all the teaching contents, meeting all the teaching goals, help students pass exams, etc. In our organization currently, it is quite flexible. I have no pressure in guiding students to pass their college entrance test. I like this stress free working environment.

Colleague 3 (Director of Career and Community Development)
I have deep respect and appreciation for our organization, as it remained a one-service organization for the past 48 years. It’s all about workforce.

Colleague 4 (Mobile Jobs Program Coordinator)
Although, our organization may not be well known. However, in terms of ethics and integrity, I can confidently say that we go out of our way to give help to whoever is in need. We are known to provide jobs for immigrants or people who are having a hard time, but whether it be legal, health, or etc., we go out of our way to successfully navigate for the client so that they can get their needs fulfilled.

Colleague 5 (Summer Youth Internship Coordinator and Adult Literacy Instructor)
Flexible working schedule, caring working environment are two major areas that my current company has done differently from my previous employers.

Colleague 6 (Special Projects Coordinator)
This organization runs with a genuine purpose for the betterment of society, not just rhetoric.


3. How would you tell others about your role or your organization?

Colleague 1 (Work Readiness Instructor/Mental Health Counselor)
Our organization focuses on providing Workforce Development assistance as well as English Language Learning assistance from a Work Preparedness focus.

Colleague 2 (Basic Skills Instructor)
I would say our organization provides employees a very warm, friendly, and home-like working environment. It is a government-funded organization, so don’t expect to have a very competitive pay. But if you want to go to work happily every day, this organization could be one of your choices.

Colleague 3 (Director of Career and Community Development)
I work in an organization that focuses on providing opportunities for new immigrants to obtain a job. We provide basic training/skills so that one can find employment. All programs, events, services we provide reflect required methods/tools necessary for obtaining employment. Wonderful benefit about our work is that; we do not limit our efforts to just new immigrants but to the larger job seeking community of the larger community of NYC and in partnership with 50 plus employers seeking the right candidates daily, monthly and bi-annually with our Queens and Manhattan Job Fairs.

Colleague 4 (Mobile Jobs Program Coordinator)
It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you may be. If you need help, we will always be here to help you out with anything. We try our best to make a great impact for everyone who are in need.

Colleague 5 (Summer Youth Internship Coordinator and Adult Literacy Instructor)
My organization’s aim is to help not only immigrants, but also all individuals to get a better life here in the U.S. It is not only a workforce-training agency, but also a place that feels like home.

Colleague 6 (Special Projects Coordinator)
I would tell them that you should talk to the people who work there. They will really try to help you. They actually care about people.


4. How would you describe your ideal job? What are its qualities and attributes?

Colleague 1 (Work Readiness Instructor/Mental Health Counselor)
A good combination of supervision as well as space to work independently, be creative, a supportive organizational culture (especially from a direct supervisor).

Colleague 2 (Basic Skills Instructor)
A comfortable working environment, friendly and helpful colleagues, supportive employer, stress-free, reasonable pay, commute within 30 minutes as well as being able to further develop my strengths.

Colleague 3 (Director of Career and Community Development)
People focused/caring for the young and the old/raising others up;
Have impact with purpose on the family or the individual;
Cultivate resources from those who have/can afford them and share with those who do not.

Colleague 4 (Mobile Jobs Program Coordinator)
The upper management and core value of the company. Of course high paying salary may be ideal and nice, but if I have to force myself to get up in the morning and go to work, then that is not the ideal job. However, if the colleagues/upper management is making a positive impact in my life, then I value that more than the high paying salary job.

Colleague 5 (Summer Youth Internship Coordinator and Adult Literacy Instructor)
My ideal job would be one that allows me to meet people from all walks of life.

Colleague 6 (Special Projects Coordinator)
When it comes to my ideal job, they must meet the following:
(1) Has positive impact on society
(2) Help me grow as a person
(3) Has a strong sense of community support


5. If you could think of any of the best employers in this field of work, what is it that you value the most from them?

Colleague 1 (Work Readiness Instructor/Mental Health Counselor)
The best employers in my field of work are empathetic, compassionate, knowledgeable, patient teachers as well as leaders, who know how to delegate and show trust to subordinates. The best employers give employees room and space to learn and grow as people and professionals.

Colleague 2 (Basic Skills Instructor)
So far the best employers in this field of work, my favorite part of it is the casual, not-too-strict, kind of home-like working environment they bring to employees. Although dress code has been emphasized later on, the overall ambiance in terms of relationship between employees, between employees and employers, between students and instructors, is still very home-like.

Colleague 3 (Director of Career and Community Development)
What comes to my mind about the best employers in this field of work:
Knowledgeable about the field and committed
Have strong work ethics with ability to work effectively under different situations
Innovative and creative with purpose
Have empathy and respect for those they want to impact
Hard worker with respect for people, rules and regulations 

Colleague 4 (Mobile Jobs Program Coordinator)
The best employer in this field of work allows colleagues be in their own comfort zone due to the flexible work culture and the respect that all staff has for each other.

Colleague 5 (Summer Youth Internship Coordinator and Adult Literacy Instructor)
I am not sure how to define the ‘best’ in the field, but I am pretty sure that the current company that I work in is setting high standards for fellow organizations, which can be seen from our client retention rate and students’ feedback.

Colleague 6 (Special Projects Coordinator)
When I think of the best employers in this field of work, I like that they care about their employees and are honest to their clients.


Now that you’ve made it towards the end, you have learned that all 6 of these colleagues that I have interviewed – desire a comfortable work-life balance culture (that feels at home) where there is no pressure, but also allows the flexibility for each employee to complete their tasks and meet deadlines based on their own pace. They reiterate the fact that they value those employers who care about people and that the work they do should be something that serves their own purpose for the betterment of the organization as well as seeing professional growth in the individual. And this is why communication is very important, as employees need to feel comfortable in speaking up for themselves and voice out. This brings out transparency.

Now, it is your turn to apply yourself with these questions!