You’ve submitted a strong resume highlighting your skills, results, and accomplishments. Your cover letter is specifically tailored to a job description and artfully demonstrates your professionalism and written communication skills. So, now what?  COVID-19 has put off any in-person interviews for a while. How can you outshine the competition from your home office and the pandemic when looking for a new job?

There are numerous resources dedicated to this very question, but times have now changed the process and we have to approach the interview process a little differently. Today, instead of an in-person meeting, you may find yourself in an interview from your home office.  This separation could feel limiting as the interview process used to be a two-way exploration between employer and job seeker to find a fit. Consider the following tips when preparing for your next job interview that could be unlike any interview you have had before.

Be mindful of first impressions

First impressions are everything, especially in a job interview. If you are meeting a new potential employer by remote connection, keep it professional. Check your connection ahead of time and make sure you have a quiet space to talk. Skip the funny digital background and make sure your space is free of clutter and well lit. You need to take the interview seriously but also maintain a friendly and positive attitude. Its ok to chat about the uniqueness of the situation and will help to build rapport.  Be sure to present yourself in alignment with the organization’s mission and culture. On the flip side, be sure to take mental note of your first impressions. Much information could be derived from paying close attention to how the hiring company conducts the interview.

Do your homework

If you walk into an interview not having done your homework, you are not the right candidate for the job. Before the interview, you must be clear on what the company does and why working for them appeals to you. Take advantage of this unique interview format and jot down some key talking points you don’t want to forget and place them close by.

Be authentic and honest

Avoid the websites that provide lists of common interview questions and provides “best” answers. Listen carefully to questions, pause a moment to think about them if necessary, and give a thoughtful and honest answer. If your response is unacceptable to the interviewer, that is useful information for both of you. Remember, you are not just looking for a job; you’re looking for a fit. A good strategy never includes rehearsing to be a person you are not.

Ask questions

Inevitably, you will be asked if you have questions about the position. Remember, this is your opportunity not only to see if you are right for the position and the company, but if they are both a match for you. Since you likely won’t have the opportunity to see the workspace firsthand, spend some extra time asking questions about culture, camaraderie and what onboarding looks like in a remote world. It is also important to explore why the position is vacant, what a typical day might look like and challenges and rewards of the role.

Be patient

Our current climate is one of uncertainty for many businesses.  Likely, no one is going to make a snap decision about hiring right now. After your interview, be sure to send a follow-up note.  Then stay in touch appropriately and respectfully.  Make sure your new potential employer can see your interest but steer clear of over-communicating.  This is new territory for some so that a little space will be appreciated.

 Advocate for yourself

Be prepared to communicate your ideal position, preferred work culture, collaboration style and desired work environment. Advocating for yourself signals to employees that you are genuinely interested in the position and not merely desperate for a job. Don’t be afraid not to get the job. If it’s not a fit on both sides, it likely will not work long-term.

Chances are if you have been invited to interview, you are already a good candidate for the job. And yes, you do want to make the best impression possible during an interview by highlighting your background and experience, and the contribution you can make to the company. It may seem counter-intuitive to size up the employer who is evaluating you, but an effective manager will recognize a candidate’s ability to self- advocate as a strength. A good candidate for a job is one who has the skills, qualifications, and drive to carry out the required duties of the position. A superior candidate is one recognizes the importance of a good fit.

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