Posted on Oct 30th 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a learning curve for all of us, with many people’s lives changing and getting used to ‘the new normal’. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and business, many employers have been forced to make some employees redundant.
In 2019, the national office for statistics found that the unemployment rate in Brits over the age of 16 was around 3.7%; now, however, the employment rate has risen to 4.5% which is an increase of almost 1%. This may seem like a small number but this is a rise of around a quarter of a million people!
With more and more areas in England entering stricter local lockdowns and national lockdowns taking place in Wales and Northern Ireland, it seems inevitable that more businesses are likely to shut their doors permanently. Unfortunately, the virus is showing no signs of stopping any time soon, meaning we need to adapt to the new version of normal.
Currently, there is a much higher (and still rising) rate of unemployment which means there are many more people applying for jobs and therefore more people being invited to interviews for potential jobs; meaning HR has a mammoth task of organising mostly online interviews with these new recruits.
Interviews are nerve-wracking at the best of times, now due to COVID, virtual interviews are becoming commonplace – Allowing people to attend interviews from the comfort and safety of their own home. Both employers and potential employees may find this new way to conduct interviews daunting and slightly unnatural.
Traditional face to face interviews is what most people are accustomed to, but virtual interviews can be useful for many, allowing a slightly more casual approach which can sometimes reduce nerves.
There are two main types of virtual interview – the first is pre-recorded video interviews, where the employer sends questions via email or text and the candidate pre-records their responses. This can save time for both parties and allows the interviewee to prepare their responses, perhaps improving their answers.
The second type is real-time virtual interviews, which is much more like a traditional interview; where the employer asks questions and the candidate answers in real-time. This may seem more difficult than the first but it actually allows both parties to speak and get to know each other.
Although, for both of the virtual interviews, it can be difficult to pick up on the other parties body and non-verbal language which can make the process much more challenging for employers to assess the candidate suitability for the job.
There are many similarities between traditional and virtual interviews, with much of the advice sounding the same in regards to making sure you know about the company you’re applying to and to dress appropriately. Nevertheless, this being said, there are five main tips when conducting a virtual interview.
Making sure the technology that allows you to do the interview is set up appropriately. Setting up the right platform (Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc), ensuring your name and information and pictures on these platforms is suitable for potential employers to view.
Additionally, testing both the audio, video and internet connection on the device you’ll be interviewing on, checking that during the interview the other party will be able to see and hear you. Planning for internet issues can also be useful, just in case there are issues with the WiFi connection.
Where you conduct the interview is also important, whether that’s at home or in an office, the room should be as distraction-free as possible. Having a quiet room, where you won’t be disturbed will be very beneficial when conducting a virtual interview as it will allow both parties to focus on the task at hand.
Keeping your background neutral and turning off notifications on both your computer and phone can also be useful. A cluttered, bright background and noises from notifications may be a cause of distraction and could even be seen as unprofessional.
Famously, Albert Mehrabian (psychologist) came up with the 7-38-55 rule – meaning 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is through tone of voice and 55% through body language. This demonstrates how crucial body language can be, especially in an interview.
As virtual interviews can feel more casual, our body language may be different when compared with an in-person interview. On video interviews, usually, only the waist up can be seen; this means during a virtual interview you should be sat up straight, facing the camera and maintain a good level of eye contact.
During traditional interviews, the other party can often get a good feel for your personality and work culture – However, virtually it can be much harder to portray this! In-person there is often much more interaction and time to get to know each other, online it can be much harder to interpret personality.
It can be easy during a virtual interview to turn into a ‘robot’ and hide your true colours, but this could be a major downfall. Our personalities are what make us likeable to other people and can often influence their opinion.
Conducting a mock interview online can act as a ‘dry run’, allowing you to notice any behaviours or gestures that may not come across as well on screen. Having a mock interview with another person can help boost your confidence and get you used to the platform you will be using.
Plus, most platforms allow you to record yourself which could be very advantageous as it allows you to rewatch the mock interview and makes it easier to pick up on any errors. Watching yourself back can help you improve your speech and see if your clothes look professional enough.
Both potential employers and employees may be unaccustomed to virtual interviews and online platforms, but they will now be much more common thanks to COVID-19. Many people think that this could be a permanent change in the way people are interviewed, as it can be much more convenient than having to travel to attend an interview.
Amber is an Intern project support officer and blogger for Wurkplace, helping with digital marketing and content writing.
She holds a BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour degree from the University of Chester, and is passionate about broadening her skill set.
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