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Preparation Matters Even More Now for Job Interviews

Preparation Matters Even More Now for Job Interviews

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips

During these days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything about our daily life seems either slower or faster, depending on the activity and its relevance to us. Grocery shopping, once a leisurely weekly chore, is now a “get in, get the items on your list, and get out.”

Want to take a nice drive into the country? Go ahead, there are far fewer cars on the road, but they’re likely to be going faster than normal.

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Companies Are Still Hiring, But Job Interviews Are More Likely to Be Remote

Despite near-record unemployment levels nationwide, companies are still hiring. However, the tried-and-true in-person interview as a first step to a new job has gone the way of the IBM Selectric typewriter. Because of social distancing, telephonic communication has taken the place of live meetings, interviews and company get-togethers, all of which reduce the time an interviewer has to speak with you.

The personal interview has been replaced by a phone call or a Zoom meeting for a tête-à-tête teleconference with a Human Resources specialist whose time is more limited than usual. While you wait anxiously and idly for a call, the HR staffer is busy wading through a stack of resumes.

Remain Ready for Phone Interviews

Alison Doyle of BalanceCareers points out that “It’s important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment’s notice.” Also, you never know when a recruiter or a networking contact might call, “so always answer the phone professionally, especially if the number is unfamiliar.”

So what can you do to prep intelligently for the not-so-personal interview? For one, be prepared for a grilling.

“Phone interviews allow employers to pre-screen candidates to make sure they meet the minimum requirements before scheduling an in-person interview,” says LiveCareer. “Nowadays, employers are looking for much more. Candidates can be asked to recite specifics of their resumes, indicate exact stats that illustrate their skills and describe details for how they would act in certain work situations.”

That’s why Julia Malacoff of Glassdoor advises: “Unless you’re directly asked a question about what you like to do in your off hours, don’t talk about your personal life.”

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

LiveCareer offers five tips that boil down to “do your homework.”

1) Prepare for the phone interview as if you are going to meet in person. Review the company website, read recent news about the company and familiarize yourself with industry trends.

2) Make sure to choose a quiet room without distractions such as screaming children, TV noise, music or nearby traffic. Cellphones can create distracting noises as well, and there’s nothing more awkward than a dropped call, so opt for a landline if possible.

3) While you may know your work history well, having a hard copy of your resume in front of you will ensure that you have the correct titles, dates and key accomplishments at the front of your mind. Think of it like an open-book test since the interviewer is most likely looking at your resume on his or her end.

4) Write down and practice your answers to frequently asked interview questions, such as:

  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What’s your most notable achievement?
  • What did you like/dislike about your last job?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
  • What interests you about this position?

5) Asking questions is your primary tool to influence job interviews. Before you begin, ask the interviewer if you should pose questions as they arise or wait until the end. Prepare a list beforehand, and write questions down that arise during the conversation so that you don’t forget them.

Job Interviews Can Help You Practice Your Communication Skills

In this time of great uncertainty, it’s important to answer all questions as succinctly and correctly as possible. You may not get the job for any number of reasons, but each interview will hone your communication skills until you hear your interviewer ask, “When can you come in so we can talk about the position in greater detail?”

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