Updated: Sep 6
I’m taking a detour from travel related information while the industry is reeling from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world. Many of us in travel, events, and hospitality have been severely impacted with job losses and reductions in pay. We are stepping outside our comfort zones interviewing for new work, pitching ourselves for freelance projects, and networking online like never before.
I wanted to share some tips to set you apart online, if you are feeling the pressure of pivoting temporarily in your careers.
Not your Typical Zoom Video-Conferencing Help Guide
There are loads of Zoom, Teams, Google, BlueJeans, video presenting and interviewing tips
out on the web. I’ll let your fingers run the search queries on the basics of video conferencing remotely. Here is a great high level video overview from Mashable. For technical expertise I suggest you go direct to the Zoom Help Center or your provider of choice.
This article isn’t how to set up your monitor, adjust your lighting, throw on the right shade of lipstick, or *ahem* remind you to wear pants or avoid the bathroom like Poor Jennifer. I am here from 15 years of extensive interviewing both in person and remotely at well recognized organizations, to share tips on how to adjust your virtual strategy. I incorporate direct feedback from HR recruiters at small to large enterprise organizations I’ve met with, to share highly relevant, easy to implement tips to have the best chance to make an impact on your next online networking meeting or job interview.
Re-training your Brain for Online Video Rapport
We all find comfort in face to face sensory and non-verbal cues. Our brains are wired to receive both conscious and unconscious signals (Centrality of Social Interaction in Human Brain Function) which limits the ease of communication on video channels, giving you that “zoom headache.”
When you walk into an in-person interview, do you look at yourself in a refection? No. You look in the eyes and face of the hiring manager. In a real life situation you don’t know if a strand of hair is slightly off or whether your shirt is perfectly aligned around your neck. You walk through that door and hope for the best, knowing that the other side is more interested in your expertise and candor.
1. Do not look at yourself during your interview! Please take all the time you need on your screen in advance to ensure you feel you look and appear your best. But once you hit share screen avoid looking at yourself for the entirety of the discussion. Look at the full screen view of who you are speaking to consistently and consciously. It takes practice.
2. Share your space. You are likely in each other’s homes. Compliment on something you enjoy about your interviewee’s room. Build rapport immediately through visual cues, since it is very difficult to see body posture on a video call. For example, you do not get the normal conscious cues like, do they talk with their hands, are legs comfortable crossed, what beverage are they drinking, do they shift in their seat, etc. These subtle signals assist your brain to adapt to the conversation dynamic, so since these cues are not as readily present, there is more a need to connect in the first 5 minutes unlike in a regular interview.
3. Be your own IT. Yes it is annoying but become the “Can you hear me now” Verizon guy. Hope you enjoyed the throwback but it is still relevant today! Be sure you are comfortable with the audio, visual, and vice versa up front so that you are not thinking about technical glitches during a short duration of time when you should be selling yourself and learning about the role. Tech is still tech and can be glitchy.
Ask More Detailed Questions
There is no one size fits all approach to changing HR policy on the fly during a pandemic. So each organization acts very differently during the interview process in Covid-19 days. Whoever your main point of contact is, make sure you ask clearly what you can expect.
4. What are the tactical details of your meeting? Do they require a phone conversation, for you to download a specific video conference app, if there is a presentation how is it done, and what the new business casual dress code norm is for the company for working from home.
5. Did you receive a meeting confirmation via email or message? If you lock in a time to virtually meet with anyone at the company, make sure that you receive an invite with specific dial in details the day the time is confirmed. I’ve had cases where HR has forgotten to send to me, I’ve proactively added the invite manually, then a week later someone misses the meeting. Double check all meetings and how to dial in for everyone sake! If there are multiple dial in options, ask which one the person you are speaking with will be using.
Interview Research and Note Taking
In the age of a pandemic interview decisions more either too rapidly or at a snails pace. Either way, it is imperative to know for the hiring manager and for yourself exactly what each of you is looking for right away. The days of hours of interviews with multiple candidates, hour long discussions, and follow up meetings are slim to none.
6. Do your homework and type out detailed questions on the team, management style, company and how the organization has adapted in volatile times. Stalk LinkedIn recommendations, social profiles, search results for as many topics as necessary to dive deeper into a discussion. You are already at a disadvantage building interpersonal connection without proximity. Avoid the comfortable generic questions you first think to ask, and instead weave the follow-up you may have asked next, which will set you apart. For example, instead of asking “What is most important for the success of this role” ask “I see knowledge transformation is an important mission for XYZ, how is your team channeling this value into success in client meetings?” Get it?
7. Befriend the recruiter. Ask HR if the role was to be filled on the spot today, what are the exact characteristics and background of the best in class unicorn candidate that would be hired by each person I am to speak with? I’ve found that the hiring team is more than happy to share what will get an open position off the record as quick as possible for them! They are in the business of filling roles as much as you are in the business of signing a contract.
8. Type your notes into your computer, phone or tablet on an application you can readily access. The interviewee will not see your notes, questions or cheat sheet directly on your screen. If you prefer to type any notes during discussion, just let the other party know what you are doing in advance. During a presentation, make sure you have a dual monitor set up behind your video input so you are not glancing from side to side while reviewing your notes while your face, not notes, are in the main screen view.
If you’d like to discuss your unique situation further, please send me an inquiry. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your goals on a free 15 minute brainstorm, in order to create a custom action plan for your needs.