Future of Work: Online Interviewing, Work From Home to Stay

The online interview, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely become a permanent fixture in the hiring process. As many companies have pivoted to remote capabilities and work from home (WFH) options and job seekers have become comfortable with the technology, companies can compete for a wider talent pool, according to one workplace authority.

“Many companies were trending toward increased WFH opportunities. Employers were advertising it as a perk to attract and retain talent well before COVID-19 hit,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Due to the pandemic, companies that were trending toward WFH sped up their plans and those that were not even considering the possibility tested and implemented remote work capabilities. The pandemic also created the need for employers to move their hiring and onboarding processes online, and many have successfully done so. The genie is out of the bottle,” he added.

According to a recent Challenger survey conducted in April, nearly 28% of companies reported plans to make some of their previously onsite workers remote on a permanent basis, and 80% of companies were conducting interviews online.

“People are already meeting, collaborating, and making introductions over video. The interviewing process will likely continue online post-pandemic,” said Challenger.

Companies that want to cast a wide net for the best talent have the ability to do so with online interviewing, as they can meet with talent from across the nation. Likewise, job seekers can compete for jobs outside their immediate location, and potentially negotiate working remotely, even if the company would prefer relocation.

    To help make the video interview more successful, job seekers should keep in mind the following guidelines. Those interviewing by phone or (socially distanced) in person can benefit from many of these tips as well:
  • Don’t be in the dark. Be sure you know who is interviewing you, how many people are interviewing you, and if everyone will be remote. How long will the interview last? What software will be used? What exact time (and verify the time zone) will the interview begin? What should you send ahead of time – if your resume was requested, be sure to have a copy of it with you so you know what the interviewer may refer to during the interview. Avoiding surprises helps keep anxiety in check.
  • Practice makes perfect. Practice using the technology with a friend ahead of time, especially if it is a new platform for you. Become comfortable with seeing yourself on camera. Know where to focus your eyes so you are not watching yourself or another person the entire time. Direct your eyes toward the camera.
  • Don’t be in the dark, part two. Do you need to move to a better-lit room or add a light source nearby so the lighting is complimentary and not too harsh or distracting? Be sure an overhead light is not casting an odd shadow on your face. Placing a lamp on either side of your screen may put your face in a better light, as might facing an open window with natural light. Experiment to see what looks best.
  • Check your background. What will others see behind you during the interview? Make sure there are few distractions. You want a neat, professional background. No messy work areas, laundry, or accumulated dishes. A neutral wall may be best, but do not sit too close to the wall or you could look cramped or flat.
  • Dress for success. Now is the time to get out the business attire that has been moved to the back of the closet. Solid colors will be less distracting than patterned clothing. Make sure your hair is neat and is styled so you are not touching it or moving it out of your eyes or off your face during the interview. Make sure facial hair is neatly trimmed. If you wear makeup, check whether it looks good on camera. Some lipstick shades can appear too bold. Some blush can look too rosy. Some foundation can make you look washed out.
  • Check your tech. Pick a room with a strong Internet connection. Pick a device that has the best camera. Be sure your device is fully charged or plugged in. Have a back-up device on hand in case you experience unexpected technology issues during the interview.
  • Be flexible. Interviewers may have issues with technology on their end. Be available at other times if the company is experiencing issues. Be prepared to switch to another app, device, or platform. Your flexibility could stand out in a positive way and show that you can problem solve in real time.

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