Job interviews and the ‘new normal’
When it comes to job hunting and interviews, a switch to online and remote could increasingly become the new normal.
Changes to work behaviours are likely to see an increased shift towards online job hunting and a larger number of interviews conducted over video or telephone.
To adapt to a changing landscape, it is important to prepare slightly differently to an online interview, compared to how you would for a physical interview.
Start by setting the scene – make sure your lighting isn’t overly harsh or putting your face in shadow, and take away anything distracting in the background that might put off the interviewer.
Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘It is a good idea to trial your technology, whether that is a video platform or audio software. Organise a test run with a family member or friend, and use the opportunity to become familiar with the tech, so that if anything goes wrong during the interview itself, you know what to do.
‘On the day, turn up early as you would to a conventional interview. Have everything in place ahead of time, including a professional outfit to wear, any notes or prompts and perhaps a glass of water.
‘Finally, remember that even if you have prepared meticulously, your technology might still play up on the day. How you react when things don’t go as planned will reveal to your employer your ability to calmly and proactively tackle difficult situations. Have an alternative contact detail, such as a phone number or email address on standby, in case you need to continue the interview in a different format.’
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Despite changing and uncertain times, there is no reason why you can’t look to the future and pursue your professional ambitions through online job searches.
Employers are continuing to look for change management experience or mindsets to ensure their organisations are able to cope with change and challenges on the horizon. Highlight these experiences if you have them when you are out job hunting – alternatively, stress your soft skills such as flexibility, adaptability and problem solving.
Lots of us have used lockdown time to pick up some new expertise, so highlight this to show your initiative and commitment to independent learning. For example, do make sure to add any new skills you might have picked up during lockdown to your CV.
LinkedIn is a good place to apply for jobs and it is also one of the best places if you want to be found. Recruitment consultants and HR professionals are well trained in searching LinkedIn for appropriate candidates and it is common for people to be approached even if they aren’t looking for a job.
The tricky bit is updating your online profile when you are starting the job search, as LinkedIn will announce any changes you make – a risk that your current employer will spot. The key is to turn off your notifications until you have updated your CV and then present yourself to the world again.
If you haven’t found the time to learn some new skills, it is not too late to start – there are a raft of free online courses to get stuck into.
Owen adds: ‘It is important to remain open-minded. The long-term reality of the Covid-19 crisis may mean that we see surges in demand, industry shifts and emerging trends that have a sustained impact on not just finance jobs, but the world at large.
‘Maintain an awareness of areas in demand and consider how your skillset and experience might make you a good fit.’
This article was first published in Student Accountant in August 2020