INTERVIEWING IN THE NEW NORM

Kristin Jiles

WHY THIS TOPIC?

Let me start with a disclaimer and say I do realize the following doesn’t apply to the vast majority of you reading this, but surprisingly, even shockingly, there are a very small percentage of folks that are the up-and-coming newbies most likely, that do need to hear this. 

In this “new norm” we are living in, there are just a few things it seems candidates may need refreshers on when it comes to the interview process.  Considering these issues keep repeating themselves, I feel compelled to get this out.  Frankly, I am a little surprised that it’s even necessary, but it is becoming glaringly obvious that it is.  Issues I thought were a “one-off” are now getting into the double digits, so it’s time to get back to the basics and go on record about some of these things so here goes.

INTERVIEW DRESS

I know I’m more “seasoned” than many of you, but one thing stands up to the test of time.  Don’t wear a hoody or a t-shirt to your video interview.  I don’t care if you think it’s comfortable and showing them the “real you”, the “authentic you”, it’s unprofessional, full stop.  Your interviewer may be in a hoody or a sweatshirt or even their work out attire after their daily Peleton session, but that does not give you a hall pass.  They have the job there, you don’t.  You are interviewing.  Be smart and look smart.  I’m not saying it has to be a suit and tie, but if nothing else, at least dress like you’re going to a nice dinner.  I have had candidates in the past several months show up to interviews with the hiring manager wearing hoodies (obviously), their husband’s t-shirts, and even gym attire.  What this speaks to more than anything is your judgment, or rather, lack thereof.  It has cost many a candidate moving forward to the next step and is such a basic one.

YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Most all of the video interviewing software being used now has a setting in which you can change out the background the person on the other end sees.  I for one have several workspaces at home, one of which is in my bedroom, because I love the view out of my window.  It’s inspiring to me.  Especially after a fresh snow.  But, NO ONE wants to see my bed, dirty clothes hamper or dog beds in the background.  There’s a reason there are background filters.  Use them.

THE MOBILE PHONE

Turn it off.

THE EMAIL

Close it.

TEAMS/SLACK/MESSENGER/IMESSAGE

DND.

EARNED FAMILIARITY

A wise mentor of mine once told me in an interview debrief that it is one thing for someone to be authentic, as we all like to peel back the layers of the onion in an interview and feel like we are getting to know the “real you”.  It’s another thing to be too familiar when that familiarity has yet to be earned.  For example, in this particular debrief, the candidate absolutely slayed it.  It was a done deal.  He had the job.  So, the candidate’s interview was over (was it really over though?) and the interviewers and candidate were simply chatting and having a good ol’ time.  The main interviewer (C-Level we will call “Ed”…probably because that’s his name) said to the candidate, “Now that the interview is over, what do you really think I will be like to work for?”  The candidate did not hesitate and immediately responded with a big grin and a laugh, “You’re actually probably a ‘corn hole’ to work for”…except he used something similar and not what I just wrote!  With that, the job that was in the bag, I mean seriously in the bag!…was lost forever.  Earned familiarity had yet to be established.  Listen and learn, Grasshopper. 

THE PITCH

Okay this is a big one too.  Let’s say you are being considered for a hot tech company as an Enterprise Account Executive and it’s down to the final…the pitch.  You are to make some cool looking slides, get up in front of the decision makers and present.  Please, for the LOVE OF GOD, do NOT read your slides.  Please, please, PLEASE use them as a talk track only.  Try and be interactive too.  No one wants to be read to unless their age is still in the single digits.  This separates the pros from the amateurs.  Be a PRO!

THE CLOSE

Finally, ask for next steps.  Ask the interviewer if there are any questions or any concerns they have regarding your candidacy, and if so, you would like to address them while you have the opportunity to.  Get a timeline or don’t.  But at least you then likely know where you stand.

I could go on and on here.  Honestly, the one thing I really don’t like to do is “coach”.  I want my clients to see the real you and you want to be the real you too, I hope.  At this point in the game, you should know the basics.  That said, the last year has been rough on all of us.  I get that.  It has caused us not to think as we once did.  We’ve gotten lax in some areas, I know I have anyway, so I hope these reminders are helpful at least, to those that might need them.  2021 is yours to seize, and your approach is everything.

If you are considering a new opportunity, please reach out to eSearchPro or The Jiles Group today!