On the twenty-second entry of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, discusses how to approach virtual interviews. In the wake of the coronavirus companies will be moving to 100% virtual interviews, so it’s imperative for any of us seeking a new job or opportunity to begin preparing for our eventual interview taking place over video. She shares what she believes to be the most challenging part of being interviewed virtually and offers a handful of effective tips to help ensure that the interview goes great. If you are in the process of searching for a job some changes likely will be taking place, so make sure to utilize her advice!
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Latesha: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Link Up with Latesha. Super excited to be chatting with you all today. I think that we can all agree that 2020 has not been our year, [laughs] and due to, you know, the thing that everyone, literally everyone, is talking about right now, which is the coronavirus. Yes, this thing that is canceling schools, keeping people at home not being able to go into the office and working remote and, you know, some folks potentially are losing their jobs, and it’s just pure craziness right now. As your career coach, hopefully favorite career coach, [laughs] I am doing a ton of research around how this virus will impact recruiting, hiring, interviewing trends so that you all can be as prepared as possible. For those of you who are looking for, you know, opportunities, I know there’s a lot going on. I want you all to first take care of yourselves and your health, take care of your families, your loved ones, you know? Your elders. But if you are in the process of searching for a job, some changes likely will be taking place. I want you all to connect with me on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter, Latesha_Byrd, where I will be just continuing to do research around how this will impact hiring trends and decisions over the, you know, next few weeks, so stay tuned for that, but today I wanted to talk about something that I absolutely know will completely change due to coronavirus. This episode is for those job seekers, those of you who are actively applying and seeking employment and networking and interviewing, I want you all to listen to this episode, because companies are going to be moving to 100% virtual interviews. I don’t know how long, right? I think we all are a little bit unsure. There’s a lot of uncertainty around, you know, how long this will last, how long this will take to get under control but one thing is for sure – if these companies are making everyone work from home now, I guarantee you you will not be going into an office to interview because no one will be there. [laughs] So today, on this episode, I wanted to talk about video interviews. Video interviews. This is what companies will be doing, whether it is through Zoom or through Skype or through Google Hangouts. Companies will be moving to video interviews, because I don’t really–it depends on the industry, right, and I don’t want to speak on this too soon. I am not sure exactly which industries will slow down on their hiring. I do know that likely retail, tourism, event planning, you know, the event industry in general, transportation, you know, those industries will slow down. In terms of these tech organizations, I’m not too entirely sure just yet, but if you are still applying, I don’t want you to let go. I don’t want you to give up, right? I don’t want you to give in, because we don’t know when this will turn around and how long this will last, so still, keep applying, keep interviewing, but if you have not ever done a video interview before, this is going to take a different level of preparation, okay? So I have some tips that I wanted to share with you all today, and before I share those tips, I do have a special announcement. If you are going to be working from home and you’re gonna be on your computer, understand that–well, I’m sure all of us will be on our computer, right, but if you are seeking employment and maybe one–a couple methods of your networking was attending networking events, attending conferences, we all know that all of the conferences that we’re going on over the next few weeks have been canceled or postponed. LinkedIn, LinkedIn is a great platform and a great avenue for you to continue to build your network, to find people who can become referrals, and if you’ve listened to prior episodes, you know that I am a big fan of getting referrals for opportunities. You want to make sure your resume is getting in front of human eyes and not just being scanned by a computer and boop, no one ever sees it, it goes into a dark abyss. So it is important to use LinkedIn to network and for your job search. That being said, I am launching a five-day LinkedIn challenge. This is going to be starting on March 16th. March 16th. Just a couple days away, mark your calendars. [laughs] Mark your calendars, and each day–this will last from Monday to Friday. It is a five-day mini-course series that will literally break down the steps that you can take to revamp your LinkedIn. So if you don’t feel 100% confident on a scale from 1-10, your confidence level with your LinkedIn profile is maybe a 4 or 5–trust me, I know. It’s okay. Some people have told me theirs is at a negative or it’s at zero. That’s okay. I want to help you get your LinkedIn to a 10. So sign up for the challenge, LateshaByrd.com. I will also make sure we drop a link in the show notes so you can sign up. We’ve got about 200 folks registered so far. I definitely want to keep growing this number, because this is completely free, and I think that we all should be able to really be confident in our LinkedIn profiles and use that for your job search, especially as things really, really, really start to go virtual. And these may be long-lasting effects in terms of how we do business and how we network and how we job search. So get on the challenge. Enough about that. Getting back into today’s episode. So the most challenging part of video interviewing is that the interviewer won’t really be able to feel your energy through the camera. Video interviews are awkward. It’s different from, you know, like, FaceTiming, you know, your boo, FaceTiming your parents. It’s different from, you know, hopping on a video call or Skyping a friend, you know? It’s much more professional. It’s a little bit more conservative and uptight, and I don’t want you to let that environment, you know, kind of keep you from being your authentic and your best self. So this is why I wanted to give some tips. Video interviews can be intimidating if you’ve never done one. So here goes. Getting back into this. Again, the interviewer might not feel your aura. They might not feel your energy in person, so you really want to give it all that you’ve got. So what do I mean by that? They can’t feel your energy through a computer screen or through a camera, and so you definitely want to make sure that you are showing enthusiasm by smiling more. Eye contact. This is weird, right? Let me talk about eye contact. With eye contact, it is good to look at the camera. It seems weird, but you want that person on the other side to feel like, you know, that you are looking at them, they have your undivided attention. What I like to do is put the picture image of that interviewer kind of close up to where my camera is in the top center so that I can kind of switch my eye contact between looking at them and then looking at the camera so it’s not weird. So you can go back and forth between that, but when I say you have to give it all that you’ve got, it’s just that body language, that energy, showing enthusiasm, and hey, literally saying, “Hey, I am really excited about this opportunity.” You guys would be surprised to hear how many companies really assess a candidate’s enthusiasm or interest in the role by their body language, you know? By how they actually express things. You can be super talented, you can be super skilled, okay, you can be a great fit, but if they don’t think that you’re interested they may think, “Hm.” That could deter them, right? And sometimes we just don’t have that personality to be super bubbly and, you know, act like “Oh, my gosh, I’m so excited to interview,” right? But you will want to make sure that you are just making a little bit more effort in that area, okay? Next, you definitely will need to eliminate all distractions beforehand. So no pets, finding a place in your home where you can take this interview with, you know, being able to close the door, turn off the noise. It is important to get into a highly lit area, but I’ll talk about that a little later. But talk about eliminating distractions. So I’m super lucky because I have an office. I love having a home office, because there is a separation from me when I’m working and me when I’m just chilling or I want to watch TV or whatever. So I don’t know if there’s a place, but I would encourage you to find a place in your home where it is low distractions, where you can literally close off everything. So no pets, you know, babies, turning the TV off and the music off. Any type of distractions can throw the whole entire interview off. Now, let’s say a noise does go off, right? Maybe it’s your phone. You can just say, “Hey, excuse me. Sorry.” Turn it off, whatever. Give it a second for the noise to calm down. Take a deep breath and go back into it. Let’s say there’s something outside going on. There’s a siren going on, right? Nothing you can do about that. You could just say, “Hey, excuse me. Sorry, siren.” Pause and get back into it. Let’s say someone just bust open in the room. Let’s say you have young children. Of course they don’t understand what “Leave Mommy and Daddy alone” means. They don’t understand what privacy is, right? So your child busts in the door. Again, I’ma tell the interviewer, “Excuse me for one second, I’m so sorry,” mute the sound, tend to them very quickly, close the door back, and just hop back into it. So you do want to do your best to eliminate distractions beforehand, but those are just some ways that you can handle it in case there is an unexpected disruption. Have your interview questions written down. I’m a big fan of that, even for phone interviews as well. Have a printed copy of your resume right beside you with a journal and a pen as well. I would treat it like it’s a regular interview, which it is, it’s just virtual now. So you can use your resume, your printed resume with notes, as a cheat sheet, and a question that someone asked me one time before was “Well, what type of notes would I have written down on the resume?” The type of things you would have written down on the resume is, you know, let’s say on your current job on your resume you have some of your, you know, responsibilities, right? Maybe to the right of that you can write “Here’s what it resulted in,” although that should be on the resume. That should already be on there. But if you want to add more context you can. What you can do as well is take your resume, okay, write down your top five to seven accomplishments–you probably want to give a variety, so it shouldn’t come just from one job. Maybe the last two, the last three. Have a list of that in your journal, a list of those accomplishments in your journal, and make sure you’re telling that story in the CAR method. It’s very similar to the STAR method. I would encourage you to look that up. CAR – context. What was the situation that occurred here? Action. What action did you take as a result of that, you know, situation? And the context is kind of like that “So what had happened was” thing, right? [laughs] Then the action is what did you do, and the R is the result. So for each of those examples or scenarios you give, write it out in the CAR method. You can always refer to that during the interview. That will just help you to explain your work. Now, you don’t want to read, right? So you probably want to put it in bullet point form. Study that as much as you can even before the interview, but you can kind of glance at it. You don’t want to be like, “Okay, hold on. Wait, let me see. Let me pull it up and look at it,” ’cause you don’t want them to know that you have a little cheat sheet beside you, but that’s just kind of, like, between you and me right now. Okay, so talking about lighting. Lighting is so important. You want to find the brightest area of your home. You’d be surprised at how good lighting really makes a difference in these interviews. Perception is everything, so you want them to be able to see you clearly. Make sure the light is facing you. You don’t want to sit with your back against a window. You want to make sure the window–like, the light is hitting your face. It is really hard to see someone on camera if it is the opposite way, okay? So if there aren’t any windows besides you. Maybe you don’t live in a great lit area. Get some lamps and put those lamps and make sure the light is facing you, like, the light is on you. The light should not be behind you. The light should be on you. Lighting definitely makes a difference. Here’s the most important tip though. You need to check and double-check your tech before. Check, double-check, triple-check your tech before. Not being able to get your tech working, like, not being able to get the camera working is, like, really not–[laughs] That’s just not good at all. You don’t want to be 10 minutes late because you couldn’t figure the camera out. That doesn’t go well for an interview, especially if you are interviewing for a position that maybe is in the tech world, or maybe it is for a position that you will be utilizing a lot of tech, all right? Having issues is a red flag. And I get it, some of these systems are really dumb and complicated. Trust me, I have had so many challenges with different tech systems. So hopefully the company will give you an opportunity to test the tech out, even prior to or before the interview, just so you can get comfortable with it. So making sure you have–you know, your mic is good to go if you have a mic, or making sure you have headphones. Using headphones or AirPods, that definitely does improve the sound quality. And so also get on 10 minutes early. It will not hurt you to get on 10 minutes early just to make sure you’re good, test everything out, okay? Ask the interviewer for a number. Ask them for a number in case the WiFi goes out. You really never know. Like, I have–I’m in Charlotte. I have Spectrum, and our WiFi can be so awful sometimes. Like, trash. [laughs] So those are things that you can’t personally help, so ask them for a number. All right, let’s talk about posture. Posture. Sitting upright is great. You don’t want to fidget. Don’t cross your legs. You kind of want to sit, like, your feet on the ground, 90 degree angle with your back. Don’t try to lean over and look cool. This is not time for the shoulder lean or any of those things, so make sure you sit straight up. It can look awkward. You want to make sure that your body frame is in the camera, okay? It is great to be in front of a plain background as well. So, you know, not too much going on in the back. Maybe you’re in your room, that’s the only place you have, and your closet is behind you and you don’t have a door on your closet and you just have so many clothes and clothes. Think about, like, hanging up a curtain. I read that online somewhere. Maybe you could hang up a curtain, and so that might actually–I’ve seen that before, I read that, but that might help instead of just having a very distracting background. You want to make sure the attention is all on you. And the last thing that I would add here is make sure you have a bottled water or a glass of water beside you, you know? We tend to get pretty nervous with interviewing, and that’s natural, so have a water with you, and don’t be afraid to sip the water during your interview. That’s what it’s there for. Hopefully that helps to kind of calm your nerves. You’re going to be doing a lot of talking as well, so having that water there is great. You don’t want to say during the interview, “Oh, excuse me real quick. Let me just go grab some water. My throat is dry.” [laughs] Right? So go ahead and get that prepared for you. So remember the things that you will want to have with you at your desk, at your kitchen table, whatever is best for you to do this interview. Water, your printed resume, your journal, a pen, okay? Make sure you get their number and you write that down. And of course great lighting around you as well. Definitely again, just to kind of reiterate, express your enthusiasm throughout. Make sure you have good body language, good posture. Make sure you smile. Smiling goes a long way. And don’t be afraid to let them know how excited you are about the opportunity. And that is all that I have. I wish you all the best of luck. I have so many clients right now that are actively interviewing and their interviews are being moved to virtual interviews, so I hope that these tips do help. Like I said, I will be doing a lot of research around how coronavirus will be impacting us from a job seeking, interviewing, hiring, recruiting perspective, and as I learn more, as I hear more, I will be sure to update you all. Don’t forget to join the LinkedIn and level up challenge. Again, I will be putting that information into the show notes, and we are starting that on Monday, Monday through Friday, okay? There will be prizes at the end as well, so just know that. There will be prizes for those that have the best LinkedIn profiles by the end of it. And the last thing that I want to say is that I am really just keeping you all in my thoughts and well wishes, that, you know, we are all in this together, and I really hope that, you know, your careers, your businesses, are not impacted, you know, negatively. I’m hoping for the best here, and I, again, just want you all to take care of yourselves and your health and know that your Living Corporate family is here for you. All right, guys. Until next time. Thanks.