Virtual Interviews: Tips for Jobseekers and Employers

11 Tips for Virtual Interviews

Virtual interviews have become increasingly common, including with state government agencies in Austin, TX. Before COVID-19, Peak Performers had been transitioning to conducting mostly virtual interviews because of their convenience for all parties. Now, living with the virus, you will find most employers, including Peak Performers, are conducting their interviews via phone or video chat or some combination of the two. Let’s look at some tips for both jobseekers and employers:

  1. Treat it like a normal interview. It’s important to take all interviews, regardless of how they are conducted, with the same level of seriousness. Preparation includes: studying before you interview (jobseekers should research the organization, employers should re-read the candidate’s resume), getting plenty of rest the night before, being well fed before the interview, and cleaning/dressing yourself professionally
  2. Mark your calendar. Prior to the event, make sure that you are prepared to do the interview. You should send out or respond to calendar invites to let the other party know it’s really happening. As an additional courtesy, you can send an email expressing your excitement and providing the other party with another means to contact you if there is connection trouble.
  3. Check technology. Test out the technology to make sure you are set-up and ready to go. If possible, make a test call to a friend or family member. In particular, you should make sure that your webcam and microphone work.
  4. Manage noise. Find yourself a quiet room in your home (not outside). Sounds like a dog barking, garbage disposal running, or someone playing music in the next room may not be something you notice but your interviewer probably will. If you’re concerned about background noise, wear a headset or earphones.
  5. Manage lighting. Find a room with good natural light when possible. Avoid sitting with your back to a window as this tends to turn you into a silhouette. Use overhead lights when natural light is unavailable or insufficient.
  6. Adjust your webcam. Adjust the angle of your webcam so that your head is centered in the frame and the camera clearly shows both your shoulders. Sit so you are directly facing the camera.
  7. Manage interruptions. Don’t forget to silence your phone and computer so it doesn’t interrupt you. Additionally, put a sign on your door and let household members know that you will be interviewing. If interruptions do happen during the interview, such as a child coming in to interrupt you, mute your microphone, deal with the situation patiently, thank the other party for their patience, and return to the interview. We’re all human and working under unusual circumstances—do what you need to do and then get back to it.
  8. Take notes. For employers this is really important, especially if you’re interviewing multiple candidates and need to recall who is who. Jobseekers should also have a pen and paper handy to take note of their interviewer’s name, email, and phone for follow up.
  9. Speak clearly. Remember to talk slower than you might do in person, especially if you are conducting a phone interview. Pause before answering a question to think about it and avoid, when possible, excessive filler words. You want to sound thoughtful and communicate clearly.
  10. Smile often. Remember to smile often, even if you are doing a phone interview. A smile brings a natural enthusiasm to your voice and is particularly important with a video interview.
  11. Look at the camera, not the screen. Finally, when doing a virtual interview, look into the camera as much as possible when talking. This gives the perception of eye contact during the interview.

Dude, where’s my job? Job seeking advice for recent grads!

Taking the next big leap: into the work world

So you’ve graduated—now what?  Maybe you’ve moved out on your own or maybe you’re looking to.  Maybe you’ve already got your foot in the door with an organization, or maybe you’re bussing tables to make ends meet.

Fear not—employers are looking for energetic and enthusiastic young people like you who are ready to change the world! And there are tons or opportunities out there for the eager recent grad.  

Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

  1. Start somewhere: it may not be your dream job right away, but it helps get you there.  Every job you get from making hamburgers to answering phones teaches you something about yourself and about your talents.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and make professional contacts along the way! (PS: Peak is a great place to start in entry-level professional positions.)
  2. Be flexible: chances are you’re young and mobile.  Take advantage of that. Your first or second job may be located on the other side of the country or maybe even in a different one—sounds like a fantastic adventure! Besides asking yourself when can you start…maybe ask yourself where you can start?
  3. More jobs offline:  You may spend most of your time online but your future employer may not.  Have you thoroughly researched a company before applying there? Have you looked for personal referrals and people who might know people?  Have you networked with anyone besides through Linkedin?
  4. Always follow up: even if you don’t end up taking a job after an interview, give the hiring manager the courtesy of a personal phone call or email to thank  them following an interview or offer. Be grateful for every opportunity whether it lands a job or not.  Always be positive, and leave the door open for future opportunities.
  5. Avoid job hopping: even if you don’t like your job, try to resist the urge to “job hop.”  A prospective employer may be less likely to consider you for a new position if they perceive that you are less committed and dedicated for the long-term.
  6. Pick yourself back up: it’s possible you will fall flat on your face or find yourself in a job that’s a terrible fit for your skillset.  Take note, learn from the experience, and move on. Your first job will likely not be your last—but you’re sure to learn a lot along the way!

Did you know we’re always hiring at Peak?  Have you read about what we do?  Start your career with Peak Performers by sending us your resume.

7 questions to ask in your next job interview

Most job seekers understand the importance of asking good questions during the interview. Not only is it essential to come prepared with answers, but it’s also critical to ask the right questions. Your inquiries communicate a lot about who you are and what your expectations are for the position. By asking genuine and engaging questions, you’re showing the interviewer that you actually care about the position, the company, and how you might be able to contribute.

Think of the questions you ask as being statements that can help set you apart from competing candidates. Asking too soon about salary, for instance, could communicate to the interviewer that you’re primarily concerned with money. Your finances might be an honest concern, but leading with this question could also make you seem greedy or parsimonious. A question about teamwork, however, communicates that you are collaborative and ready to work well with others.

Think of the questions you ask as being statements that can help set you apart from competing candidates.

This past calendar year, our staff interviewed over a thousand candidates. Based on our staffing and recruiting experience in Austin, we’ve compiled some of our best-recommended questions to ask in your next interview:

How long have you worked here? What have you enjoyed most?

Poet and activist Maya Angelou is often attributed with saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The same is true for job interviews. Asking personable questions can give you insights into the office culture and it can also make a lasting impression on the hiring manager.

What is the ideal candidate for this position?

This is a great open-ended question to help clarify any misunderstandings about the role. If the hiring manager says something you have not explicitly mentioned yet, this presents an excellent opportunity to fill in the gaps. This is your chance to tell them that you’re the person they’ve been looking for.

How would you describe the company’s culture?

Cultural fit is becoming more and more of a determining factor in the hiring process. Remember that the interview is also a way for you to determine whether or not you want to pursue the role. This question also provides an indirect way to find out more about overall employee wellness and benefits programs.

How does this company define and measure success?

Not only does this question help you understand the company’s expectations, it also implies that you are focused and determined to be successful.

I read ABC in XYZ about your company. Can you tell me more about that?

Most people know it’s important to research the company prior to your job interview. This question gives you an opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework without coming across as a know-it-all.

Do you have any specific concerns that I can address in further detail?

It might seem counterintuitive to highlight your own flaws in an interview. However, this question conveys a sense of confidence and could provide insight into what the hiring manager(s) might be thinking. It also gives you one last chance to clarify any apprehension regarding your candidacy.

What is the next step in the hiring process?

Consider this question as an opportunity to affirm your desire and enthusiasm for the position. It also might provide some insight into how many other candidates are being interviewed or when you should plan to send your follow-up message.

Keep in mind that these are only examples, and you should customize these questions based on the specifics of the position you’re considering. In general, focus on asking open-ended questions, and practice asking them out loud until you feel confident. Practice. Practice. Practice.

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What to wear to your Austin interview

According to the Austin Business Journal, there are an estimated 157.2 people moving to our area every single day (we’re not sure how to calculate one-fifth of a person, but we’ll take their word for it). Central Texas has been one of the fastest growing regions of the US for many years. More and more people are drawn to Austin’s growing economy, laid-back atmosphere and mild winter weather. We’re also proud to be ranked 2017’s best place to live by the ubiquitous assessors at US News & World Report. If you’re new to our beautiful city, we feel confident you’ll assimilate quickly.

With so many fresh job seekers from other parts of the country, we thought we’d offer our best recommendations on what to wear to your next job interview in our city. With over 22 years being Austin’s preferred staffing and recruiting firm, we’ve interviewed countless candidates and helped put thousands of people to work at State of Texas government agencies. We’ve seen it all, to say the least.

For starters, here are a couple general guidelines to follow for any job interview:

  • Try not to stick out. We recommend dressing to look like you could start working the moment you walk in the door. If you’re interviewing for a construction job, for instance, bring your jeans and work boots. If you’re hoping to work in a courtroom, however, full suited attire might be more appropriate. If you’re still not sure what to wear, you might consider doing some subtle research into what other employees typically wear to work.
  • Wear what makes you feel good. When people look their best, they tend to have more confidence and self-assurance. While your personal image shouldn’t be a significant factor in an interview, it could communicate your attention to detail and give the hiring manager an idea of how you might represent the company to future clients or customers.

Keep in mind that there are only two seasons in Austin – hot and less hot. If you’re flying in for an interview, remember to check the weather report because precipitation and temperature can shift drastically in Central Texas. Another caveat is that most Austinites love air conditioning, especially when it’s 100 degrees outside. While you might find yourself sweating during the walk from your car, you might also be shivering while sitting in the company lobby.

Austin is also a city where it’s highly plausible to see people wearing flip-flops and shorts to a place of worship. Nowhere is this theme more salient than in the tech industry. It’s generally not a good idea to wear very formal attire for software development or information technology related positions.

That being said, most office or professional environments in Austin will go by the general rules of business casual.

(Mike Nudelman/Business Insider)

 

For women, this usually means casual skirts, dresses, pants and blouses. Similarly, for men, this typically means a shirt with a collar tucked into dress pants with casual dress shoes. It is also common to see people in sweaters, vests and a combination of other seasonal accessories. Outside of certain formal industries, you’ll rarely find anyone wearing a suit in ATX.

Despite the stereotypes, leave your cowboy boots at home. And if you’re still stressing about what to wear, it’s usually okay to just ask.

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