Interviewing during coronavirus pandemic: How to succeed virtually

With some industries flourishing, it's important to continue your job hunt

Even though the spread of the coronavirus has dramatically slowed life down for most of the U.S., many companies are still hiring -- but for some, the process has changed.

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At the beginning of this month, companies including LinkedIn, Google and Facebook shifted their in-person interviews to virtual meetings to avoid spreading COVID-19, according to The Verge.

Because the point of an interview is to make a connection, in-person meetings are the best format, Gary Burnison, the CEO of management consulting company Korn Ferry told FOX Business.

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“But that’s hard to do right now, as more companies are going to video interviews,” he said. “Nonetheless, people can still be their authentic selves in a virtual environment. The same rules apply.”

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In fact, a video interview could work to your advantage, said Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources for the job listings website Indeed.com.

“In-person interviews can be hard for many people, so shifting the interview process to allow for candidates to participate in interviews in their own environment can be comforting and can set them up for success,” Wolfe told FOX Business.

That means if you’re looking for a job, don’t give up, career coach Maggie Mistal said.

“There are some industries right now that are flourishing,” she told FOX Business. “So I think it's important to continue your job hunt. And also, this is not going to last forever ... So you want to stay just as focused as you were before.”

As the coronavirus spreads across the country, in-person interviews are being replaced by video interviews. (iStock)

To have a successful video interview, Mistal and Wolfe both recommend setting up somewhere quiet with as few distractions and interruptions as possible. Good lighting and a good background are also key.

”You become your own producer,” Mistal said. “And you have to think of the set.”

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She also recommended getting fully dressed, as if the interview were in-person.

“Dress full-on because it'll make you feel differently. I even recommend wearing shoes … that you feel comfortable in,” Mistal said. “Just something that really makes you feel like the professional you are, whatever that profession is. It makes a difference.”

Lighting and background are two important things to consider when doing a virtual interview. (iStock)

Another helpful tip is to do a quick warm-up call with a friend or relative before the interview, she said.

“[It] doesn't need to be long,” she added. “It can even just be a few minutes. But it just puts you in conversation mode … You may not have had a conversation all morning. Now you're gonna just jump right into this really focused conversation. You know, you need to prepare yourself. And having even that warm-up conversation will really help.”

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Once you start the interview, Wolfe advises paying attention to where you look.

“When interviewing with an employer over video chat, you should put your best foot forward just as you would if you were meeting in person,” he said. “Look directly into the camera as often as possible to maintain eye contact. This will show the hiring manager that you are engaged and passionate about the role you are discussing with them.”

Even though there’s a lot of anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Mistal said, you can still put your best foot forward.

“The biggest thing is to remember and focus in on what you can control,” she said. “And with a job search, it's about getting clear about the job you're going after, why you're a great fit, presenting your best self. None of that has changed. And in fact, I think it shows more of your character to be able to stay calm and cool during these times of crisis.”

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But once you get the job, what should you do if it’s remote?

“It's the same thing you would do if you started in the office where you would want to connect and get to meet your coworkers,” Mistal said. “And instead of doing it in the coffee room or over lunch, what you want to do is proactively set up phone calls with these folks or video calls.”

“Ask for a specific time where you can catch up individually with that person, introduce yourself, get to know them a little bit, you know, lay some groundwork for how you'll be working together and those types of things so that you can get the support you need and build the relationships,” she added. “Because the good news is, you still can build relationships when you're not face-to-face.”

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