COVID-19 has impacted everything from how people work to how they purchase groceries, and the odds are high that interviews will look different for you than they have in the past. Whether you’re interviewing for an administrative or specialist position, there are certain questions and scenarios you can count on.
At Shepard Search Partners, we believe that preparation can go a long way in securing your dream job. Don’t let this unusual season catch you off guard.
Be Prepared for Video Conferencing
As an essential worker, you can expect in-person interviews, but that doesn’t mean you won’t initially meet prospective employers over Zoom or Skype. Ensure you have access to a reliable internet connection, a device with HD video, and headphones.
Here are a few tips to make your interview go as smoothly as possible:
- Do dress up for your interview and remember all of the viral videos of people literally being caught without their pants on.
- Do dial in 5 minutes early to give you time to test your microphone and camera.
- Do have your camera on, even if the interviewer doesn’t. People use interviews to get a sense of your character, and visual cues are essential.
- Do find a way to minimize distractions. Give fido a peanut butter filled kong, turn off the television, and let your family know you’re not to be interrupted.
- Do a dry run with family or friends to make sure the video conference software works on your device.
- Don’t wait to learn the technology when you sign on for your interview.
- Don’t forget to use headphones–even if you’re alone in a quiet place. They minimize audio feedback.
- Don’t use your cellphone unless you have a stand or a reliable place to balance it. Trying to interview someone who’s bouncing around the screen and brushing the microphone isn’t fun.
There are some tips that should go without saying–like never take an interview call in the bathroom–but we’ve seen it happen (they did not get the job).
If your interview is interrupted by kids or pets, don’t sweat it too much. Everyone has been forced to merge their home and work lives, and it isn’t always pretty. We do our best, and that has to be good enough.
Take COVID-19 Seriously
This is another point that should go without saying, but we’ve seen people either get nervous or display a lack of concern about COVID-19 when they show up for their in-person interview. Needless to say, the lapse in judgment didn’t go over well.
Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and take other precautions. Caution during a global pandemic will only be seen as a positive in the healthcare industry. People who ignore protocols pose a greater risk to patients and coworkers.
It’s important to show your true self in an interview because it comes through whether you want it to or not. If you try to mold your responses to fit the resume instead of your personality, you may find yourself unhappy with the job. Make a list of what you need to have in a job and what’s negotiable, and stick to it.
Prepare a List of Questions
Asking questions about the organization and clarifying details about the job description are all big pluses in an interview loop. While you don’t want to go in without doing your research first, asking questions is a natural way to show real interest in the position. Even if you’re only verifying what you’ve found online or heard from associates, ask the question.
Remember: You’re Also Interviewing Them
It’s tempting to take the first job that comes along, especially with a pandemic impacting the economy. Remember that you’re in a field that will always be in demand and promises to bounce back quickly (we already see signs of recovery). Verify the job description matches your expectations, dig into the company culture, and pay attention to any red flags. If you take the first job that comes along despite warning signs, chances are you’ll be looking for a different job much sooner than you’d like.
If you’re asked for an example of a time you showed calm under pressure, give the specifics of the situation and why you chose to take your course of action. If you’re asked how to treat an ailment, go through the options before stating what you generally prefer and talk through what would make you change the treatment plan.
Don’t assume they know the treatment, technique, or solution you used. They certainly won’t assume you know what you’re talking about without supporting details.
Prepare for the Big Five
Five questions are asked in nearly every interview:
- Why are you interested in working here?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- How do you deal with stressful situations?
Why are you interested in working here?
This is a chance to prove that you did your research and explain why you would be a good fit. Prepare talking points that highlight why you admire the program and showcase the unique skills you bring to the team.
What are your strengths?
You are talented and intelligent, and you’ll bring a lot of great qualities to the position. Pick the qualities that best align with what they’re looking for in the job description, but don’t force a match. Do stick to relevant strengths, though. Your cupcake baking skills can be a welcome surprise after you get the job.
What are your weaknesses?
Your potential employer will be talking to the references you provided and the connections they have in the industry. Be honest, but also show self-awareness. If you know a weak point and are taking steps to work on the behavior, you’re ahead of the game.
Why did you leave your last position?
Honesty is good to a point. If you’re still angry at your previous employer, this is not the place to show it. Keep it simple and professional. “I’m looking for a more flexible schedule so I can focus on continuing education” will go over a lot better than “they made me work twice as many hours as they indicated on the job description.”
How do you handle stressful situations?
Questions like these are difficult to answer on the spot. Think through situations and the steps you took to respond to them. Use this question as an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills. We also recommend offering strategies you use to keep your stress levels low.
Develop a Five Year Plan
You’ll be asked about your career ambitions. Don’t give them a detailed plan up until the age of retirement, but do prepare to speak to what direction you’d like to take in the near term. If you’re happy doing the job you’re in for the foreseeable future, tell them why it suits you so well. The only wrong answer is no answer.
Some of the standard interview advice is cliche but effective. Dress for the position you want, put your best foot forward, and enlist colleagues to help you with your resume and interview answers. If you need some advice or a little coaching, Shepard Search Partners is here to help.