With the recent turn of events with the outbreak of Covid-19, those who were previously securely employed are finding themselves unemployed, upcoming graduates are looking at impending unemployment, and our employee’s market has suddenly turned on its head into an employer’s market.
Folks who haven’t interviewed in years, even decades or even never at all, are suddenly facing a recruiting season that is also entirely digital.
Still, while so many things have changed, it’s important to remember the basics. At the end of the day, the interview process serves three main functions.
-So they can get to know you.
-So you can get to know them.
-So both parties can evaluate fit.
This article will help you to understand the interview process, preparation tips, video interview requirements, interview best practices, and common interview questions so you can best demonstrate fit, rock the interview, and get the job!
What is fit?
You will be evaluated for three forms of fit:
- Company: mission, values, etc. For instance, if they are a quirky company, are you quirky or can you float with that? If they pride themselves on being straitlaced, can you work to maintain that company brand?
- Team: communication skills, emotional intelligence, etc.
- Role: technical skills and experience, capacity to succeed with role responsibilities
What is the typical interview process like?
While every company is different, the interview process with a typical company features the following steps:
- A screening phone interview with a recruiter
- 2-3 video interviews
- An on-site interview
However, with all the chaos of Covid-19, the “typical” interview process has been foiled and companies are doing their best to respond. Nowadays, these on-site interviews are often being replaced by more video interviews.
Now, more than ever, your internet savvy is crucial to your job search.
What do I need for a video interview?
- Installed video camera software (including a webcam and microphone)
- Strong WIFI connection
- A professional outfit
- A quiet, undisturbed location*
*Please note that with Covid-19, most potential employers would be understanding if you cannot secure an isolated space. If you cannot get to a professional location, be sure to install virtual backgrounds.
Preparing for your video interview
Studying for your interview
In general, studying for your interview, includes preparing your own personal story as well as familiarizing yourself with the following:
- The job description and key terms
- The company mission statement and culture
- The industry (revenue model, products and services, etc.)
(If you are having difficulty locating this information, you can usually find the answer simply by googling these keywords plus the company name.
The great news about video conferences is that you now have an entire screen at your disposal! During your preparation, write sticky notes reminders for yourself - whether it is a PAR story, your interviewer's background, or the company’s mission statement! If your monitor is large enough, it might be worth considering even splitting the screen so you can keep your resume at easy access. When you’ve written an effective resume, that resume serves as a valuable resource to both you and your potential employer during the interview process.
Practice Interview Best Practices
After studying, practicing for your interview is the next big step. The two best ways to do so are to either (1) have a family member or friend give you a practice interview, or (2) record yourself answering interview questions and sending them to others for advice.
Live Practice Interviews. When running through a practice interview live, it is best to maintain the “fourth wall” or, in other words, speak and act as if you are truly mid-interview. The reason for this best practice is that the most common failing in job interviews is confidence/presentation.
Recording Interview Responses. While live practice interviews are best for practicing interview endurance, recording interview responses is a phenomenal resource for refining your interview - whether it be in your physical presentation or your story-telling, recording individual responses is an important part of your interview preparation process because it allows you to (1) compare stories, (2) try out different methods, and (3) send for feedback from several parties.
Pay special attention to the following as you practice.
- Your eyebrows. If you think you’re using your eyebrows enough, you probably aren't. Eyebrows are interesting but subtle tools because they are engaging but rarely attract notice. Practice using your eyebrows for enunciation during your practice interviews (and use your recordings to see how you did)!
- Your hands. Same as with your eyebrows. While your interviewer is not likely to see your hands, it will contribute natural body movement to your shoulders and head (and make you look a little less robotic).
- Your voice. If you are using your eyebrows and your hands, your vocal inflections will naturally emulate the sentiments. However, if you are struggling with the first two, it might be helpful to focus specific on your voice as well. Try to use the full range of your voice as you speak in a clear, confident tone of voice. Also pay attention to your tempo as many people rush with nerves. This is another element that is great to get additional feedback on.
Our Recommendation. For thorough interview prep, we recommend you practice responding to and recording the following common interview questions, review what you learn and make adjustments, and then reach out to friends and colleagues for live practices once you feel confident with your story and presentation. While recording interview responses may seem intimidating, you can do so easily with our simple recording software, which you can access here.
Common Interview Questions
The most common interview questions are often referred to as “behavioral interview questions.” In contrast with role-related interview questions, which are often technical and specific, the behavioral interview questions are oriented for allowing the first to see more clearly into who you are, how you tick, and what you excel at. Below are some common behavioral interview questions which you will probably be asked in some shape or form.
While all interview questions are, theoretically, about you, the About You question is a request for you to tell your professional story (which you can read more about in this Business Insider article here). In a nutshell, you should answer the “Tell me about yourself” question with a brief run-down of your recent career progression leading up to how you arrived here (in this interview) now.
The About You question is usually the first question of the interview, and it often comes in one of these following forms.
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- “[Says your name.] Who is that?”
- “What’s your story?”
This is your most open-ended question, and it is a powerful opportunity to share who you are, what motivates you, and what you are looking for. A successful About You introduction leaves the interviewer with an understanding of who you are and why you are sitting in front of them now. With that, you now have a reference for the rest of your interview, as any stories included later on may be tied to this overarching story.
“Tell Me About a Time.”
While your About You question was designed to cover the overarching story of your success, the Tell Me About a Time questions are designed for getting into the nitty-gritty. While some of these questions may seem like they are designed to make you look bad, I promise you that these stories are designed to make you look like a hero. For any good story to take place, the hero of the story must have a challenge, or obstacle which he or she must overcome in order to reach his or her goal. Thus, in bringing up past obstacles, your interviewer is looking to be enthralled by a heroic story ft. you. As such, be sure to answer these questions by introducing (1) the obstacle, (2) your actions, and (3) the results. By following this OAR model (obstacle, actions, results), you are illustrating your strengths and fit for the given role. Below are some common Tell Me About a Time interview questions.
- Tell me about a time that you led a team.
- Tell me about a time that you failed at something.
- Tell me about a time that you experienced conflict in the workplace.
- Tell me about a time you had to act on your feet.
- Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision.
“The 5 W’s (and an H)”
Finally, the third category of behavioral interview questions is the 5 W’s. While the prior two types of questions were geared more specifically to identify your fit for the company and role, these questions are often geared more towards ensuring that they are a good fit for you. While this may seem counterintuitive (why would they care whether or not they are helping me reach my goals?), employers are incentivized to hire employees who are passionate about and interested in the role and company. Studies have shown that employees who are not passionate about said company and role (1) perform lower and (2) have a higher turnover, leading to higher employment and training costs. Thus, even during the 5 W’s (or maybe especially during the 5 W’s), it is crucial you continue to sell yourself and your interest in this role. A fantastic way to do so is by applying and speaking to what you’ve learned earlier during the “studying” section of your interview prep.
Here are some examples of 5 W questions.
- What would you say your greatest strength is?
- How do you measure success?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What is your dream job?
- Why are you interested in [company name]?
Right before the interview
- Open your computer and log into your online accounts, closing unnecessary programs.
- Change into your interview outfit (or if you already have it on, make sure you look well-groomed). Please note that although, chances are, your interviewer will only be seeing the top part of your shirt, you will want to wear the full outfit just in case you will need to stand up during the interview.
- Log into the video service you will be using (i.e. Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.) and make sure to turn on permissions for your webcam and microphone. If you are less familiar with this video calling platform, consider a practice run by making a call with a family member or friend.
- Ensure your background is professional (i.e. organized, plain, and appropriate).
- Mute your phone and/or personal devices.
- Set up any physical or digital notes you may want to have accessible during the chat
- Finally, right at the interview time (or maybe a minute or two beforehand), click on the dial-in link to enter the call.
Video Interview Tips from CloudApp Employees
Congratulations, you did it!
With these interview prep tips, you can not only feel prepared but also feel excited about your upcoming interviews! Let us know what you thought about these interview prep tips, and let us know if there’s something you think we should add!