Over the past month, I’ve noticed consistent feedback from Hiring Managers that I’m working closely with on live job briefs;
- Talents are not preparing well enough for interviews. They’re not asking enough questions about the job (or culture of the company) that they are applying for. This raises the question: do they really want this job? Or are they happy to just “have a job” in the current economic climate?
- Talents are too relaxed and informal in their interviews, almost as if they’ve forgotten it’s an interview in the first place! They’re dressing too casually, answering questions too casually and logging onto Zoom meetings late.
Professionalism is on the Slide
Job Seekers are not putting enough time and energy into their Zoom interview preparation.
As a job seeker, it’s your responsibility to be on time, dress well and do your homework (research research research!) ahead of a job interview, regardless if it’s online or in-person.
Last week, I discussed jobseeker etiquette and wrote about how crucial it is to maintain your professionalism even though lockdown and social distancing have taken many of us out of our professional contexts and forced everything online. The direct feedback I’ve been receiving seems to confirm that now we are no longer maintaining our normal work week routines or spending work hours in office environments, our professional mindsets are slipping.
When you’re job hunting, you need to exude a level of professionalism that is a step above your standard. Potential employers expect you to be highly polished in the way you look, speak, behave; well prepared with questions to ask the employer and at least a basic knowledge of the company’s clients and market position; as well as being ‘switched on’ and ready to show your best side whilst exuding a genuine hunger for the role.
Rediscovering Your Game Face
It’s important to acknowledge the way your environment influences your mindset. When you have a job interview in an office, many of the qualities I’ve named above come naturally, as your mind switches to professional performance mode (I call this mode your “game face”) the minute you step out of the lift and into the unfamiliar office. In fact, that mindset manifests even earlier than that, when you’re on the company website looking up directions and take the extra time to do some research, or even when you’re in front of your wardrobe conceptualising the ideal outfit to make a strong first impression.
When a job interview is via Zoom, all of the professional mindset prompts that bolster you in a face-to-face interview fall away. Without the professional context of the unfamiliar office space, it’s hard to switch your brain into performance mode; you don’t have any logistical planning to do, so research slips by the wayside. Zoom brings professionalism down to the lowest common denominator. If you really wanted to, you could still be wearing the pyjamas bottoms you slept in last night. This is not the mindset that’s going to get you the job as even though your brain is in it’s ‘at home’ mode, employers still expect you to be professional.
Your Roadmap Back to Professional Polish
You need to engineer an environment that tricks your brain into entering professional performance mode.
- Re-create a quiet office space at home with zero distractions (no pets, no children, no food, no music, minimal clutter)
- Pre-plan your outfit (right down to the shoes) in advance and make sure you’re showered with makeup on, hair brushed and styled, teeth brushed and flossed etc. (this preparation is 20% about making you look professional and 80% about making you feel professional)
- Sit down in front of your computer an hour before the interview starts to brush up on the company you’re interviewing with, then type out and print a series of questions you want to ask the employer
Here are a few to get you started:
- What are the day to day responsibilities of this role?
- What is the most challenging part of the job? ( *You need to understand the scale of the problems you are dealing with!)
- What is the current relationship with key clients that you will be managing? (a.k.a hat are you REALLY walking into?!)
- Who will I be working closely with? Can you tell me more about the dynamics of the team?
- Are there growth opportunities for me to build a team of my own?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What characteristics and values do you look for in employees?
- Are there opportunities for professional development in this role? What does this look like?
- Is this anything about my experience or resume that makes you question if I am the right fit for this job?
- What does success look like in this role?
- When do you need me to start?
- Likewise, be aware that clients will be asking you basic interview questions to gain an understanding of your skillset and culturally, what makes you tick! These could include;
- Describe yourself
- What motivates you?
- Who is your biggest mentor?
- How do you handle pressure?
- Describe your most recent managers strengths and weaknesses
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What can you offer us that another talent can’t?
- What are three things that you can improve?
- Are you willing to travel? Are you able to work weekends and/or after hours?
- Tell me about a time that you made a mistake? How did you rectify this?
- Why do you want this job?
Take these steps to cue a professional mindset in your next Zoom job interview, and reap the rewards.