Post-Covid, online interviews have become a much more commonplace occurrence. Here, our Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment, Nikki Murran, shares her top tips to ensure you create a positive impression during your online interview
There have been many residual factors left in our post-Covid lives, from the normalisation of working from home to a nostalgic fondness for homemade banana bread. One of the main shifts we saw in the recruitment industry was the acceptance of online interviews.
Pre-Covid I can’t think of one client who would have been satisfied to move to the job-offer stage without looking the candidate in the eye and shaking hands. But now, we still have about 35% of our interviews held online. Of that number, 20% of those are concluding their process, whether it be an offer or rejection, without having ever met the candidate face to face.
In March 2020 I was scrambling to understand the world of Zoom and Teams. I had used them previously but was by no means an expert. One of the first interviews I had set up was for a candidate who was amazing at baking and could run a high-volume, fast-paced bakery with his eyes closed but could absolutely not work email. I had to talk him through every step, and this was his first ever time using a laptop – I promise we laughed more than we cried but I think we have all become so much more proficient around online meetings now! (He got the job by the way!)
So, it would seem that online interviews are here to stay, in some capacity anyway. In many ways, they offer countless benefits to the recruitment procedure. They allow candidates to interview on lunch breaks or shortly before or after their shifts, they speed up the entire recruitment process, and they cut down on travel time and cost. But is there a downside? Do candidates who travel to interviews and attend in person have an upper hand over those who log on? Our figures would show that they do. Often the candidate attending in person has made more of an effort and thereby indicates more of an interest in the role and ultimately, in a potential hire, this is always more attractive.
So, the question remains – Do candidates really get a full chance to get their skills, experience, and personality across through a screen? I think this really depends, so, over the last couple of years we have been compiling the following tips for online interviews to help candidates bridge that gap between the real world and the digital one!
Suited and booted: When it comes to what you wear, the same rules apply as an in-person interview – well at least for your top half!
Profile picture: This is your new handshake! Make sure it is appropriate as this will be your first impression while they wait for you to log on!
Accept invitations: If the interviewer sends you an invitation on MSTeams – click to accept in a timely manner – not mere moments ahead of the interview. It confirms your attendance and interest. You can also add a note when replying saying thank you for the invitation and that you are looking forward to meeting them.
Can you hear me? This is frustrating for everyone – test out your platform (Teams/Zoom etc) with a pal and make sure you are up and running on audio and video beforehand. Technical issues nearly always cause candidates to fluster and throw them off before interviewing.
Technical issues: If you do have technical issues – don’t get flustered. If they can see you are trying to log on most interviewers are happy to bear with you while you get sorted or re-arrange if you can’t. Just be sure to contact them in real-time to let them know you are trying to log on.
Eye contact: It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during an online interview, but looking directly into the camera is the only way to appear as though you are keeping eye contact.
Backdrops: Ideally choose a neutral backdrop, a plain wall without lots of pictures, try not to sit in your childhood bedroom with your boy band posters surrounding you, or opt for the space backdrop with shooting stars behind you! If you have no blank wall – just opt for the blurred background setting.
Close all other apps on your computer: Getting email notifications during your interview is distracting and can make noise causing you to lose sound. Close everything!
Prepare, prepare, prepare: The level of preparation that is done for an in-person interview is the same level that should be completed for an online interview. Investigate who you will be interviewing with, research the company via their website and be aware of the latest news about them. Visit their stores and their competition. Have a copy of your CV, the job description, and questions you would like to ask. Be prepared for questions about your salary expectations, reasons why you are leaving your current role, length of your notice period, your motivation to move on (if employed), your career ambitions, etc. (Know your CV!)
Bad habits: Don’t eat, chew gum, smoke, or vape – this is still an interview!
Avoid interruptions: Be sure all pets and small children are locked up. Well, no, but perhaps ensure you have a quiet space where you will not be disturbed or distracted by snack requests.
Body language: Don’t slouch or squirm too much (it comes across as disinterested) even if your chair is uncomfortable.
Pick a comfortable chair.
Before you say goodbye: Ensure you’ve expressed your interest in the role and thank them for their time – oh and keep your fingers crossed!
You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife magazine here. You can view all our live jobs here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email email@example.com