Companies have had to adapt their interviewing processes—like so many other business processes—during the COVID pandemic. Before COVID, phone calls were the most likely format for off-site interviews and were typically followed by an on-site meeting, so video calls were not common. Now, video calls are much more prevalent and should be a key part of any interview process. As an experienced Recruiter and Account Executive, I’ve seen generic “How to” guides pop up throughout the year with strategies for handling this format and, now that we’re 9+ months into the pandemic, I have been surprised at the lack of IT-specific takes. I have worked with IT customers across multiple industries and prepped a lot of candidates for interviews, including video calls. Here are a few common interview tips with some IT spin that I’ve picked up after working with both sides:
- Take advantage of the virtual format. Video interviews offer unique ways for a candidate to demonstrate value, so think carefully about how to take advantage of features that aren’t available in-person, such as screen sharing. For instance, as a candidate, you can prepare samples of your work and offer to share screens with the interviewer(s) to talk through an answer while showing the example. Developers might bring a snapshot of code from a challenging solution, Scrum Masters could walk through sample burndown charts, Product Owners could use acceptance criteria/product backlogs, QAs have test scripts, and so on. Similarly, interviewers could request (in advance) that a candidate have this kind of sample on hand and then talk through it live as a way to understand how the candidate thinks about challenges or tasks. As a candidate, have your favorite professional development resources (manuals, books, white papers, etc.) nearby in case you’re asked how you keep up with fast-changing technology trends. Think outside the box a bit.
- Choose your setting wisely. This tip builds on #1: candidates can benefit from showing the interviewer their work-from-home environment and will reinforce your effectiveness in a remote context. Be sure to install and test any software if the interviewer’s chosen video call tool is new for you. Avoid virtual backgrounds, which can be a distraction. Ideally, use an office or another dedicated workspace and, if you have a bookshelf for a backdrop, have professional development or IT materials on hand. Interviewers have the opportunity to build common ground with potential employees this way—sharing a view of your home work space can open rapport-building dialogue about navigating these challenges. For both interviewer and candidate, make sure you have solid, stable internet or WIFI signal. It can be especially embarrassing if you have technical difficulties connecting to a video interview for an IT
- Dress for Success. Dressing professionally is a must for any interview, even remote video ones. Wearing business attire can be an easy way to demonstrate genuine interest in a potential position. That said, it is doubly true for interviews in the IT industry, where many professionals (and departments) allow casual dress and your competition for the opening may not bother to look the part. As a result, simply suiting up can help a candidate differentiate from competitors, give a professional first impression of your company, and have an outsized impact on virtual IT interviews.
- Study up. You should review in detail prior to taking any interview, including a virtual one. IT professionals—particularly those in hands on, technical roles—have to navigate a wide variety of industry acronyms, evolving technologies, programming languages, and other IT-specific jargon. These often vary further as companies build end-to-end solutions by mixing and matching different technical stacks to their unique business and challenges. As an interviewer, it is critical to articulate questions well and share meaningful information about your systems because candidates will base their impressions entirely on you. For candidates, use your resume, LinkedIn profile, or other materials to refresh on the specific business problem your team was facing, the proposed solution, how you contributed to it, and what the final outcome was (and how it might relate to the role you’re now pursuing). You’ll feel—and look—more at ease as a result whether you’re asking or answering questions in the call.
Hopefully these core points will be helpful as you get ready for video interviews, regardless what side of the desk you’re sitting on.