Ellen Pate, Assistant Vice President for Student Wellness an Career Development, Southern Wesleyan University

    by Ellen Pate, Assistant VP for Student Wellness and Career Development, Southern Wesleyan University, with Ed Welch, Director of Communications, Southern Wesleyan University

    Unemployment rates have spiked in response to COVID-19 related business shutdowns, leaving many faced with a return to job hunting.

    For those who have lost jobs after many years of employment, the new job landscape may seem like uncharted territory, especially with technology that has replaced face-to-face interviews.

    According to the Southern Wesleyan University Career Services Center, video interviews were already becoming more commonplace because of employers wishing to save time and money when interviewing job candidates. More and more, Zoom and similar digital platforms are being relied upon, not just because of cost savings, but because of the current climate of quarantining and social distancing.

    “One of our goals during this chaotic season is to empower job seekers to know how to adapt strategies such as practicing your skills for virtual interviews versus face-to-face,” said Ellen Pate, assistant vice president of student wellness and career development at Southern Wesleyan. Pate stresses that job seekers should plan a video interview in the same way as with any other job interview, since video interviews can carry the same weight as an in-person interview.

    The Southern Wesleyan University Career Services Office provides these interview preparation tips:

    • Get ready early, understand how the equipment works and software and test it out by doing a dry run with a friend or family member. The better you understand the equipment, the more comfortable and confident you will be.
    • Set up the camera so it focuses on you. If you can get a tight head/shoulders shot, this is best. Try to keep other objects out of the shot, or the viewers may get distracted if the area is cluttered.
    • Make sure the microphone is near you but be conscious of it. Because microphones built into computers, phones and tablets can be sensitive, small noises can be very loud on the other end; microphones can pick up the sounds of a foot tapping or paper shuffling.
    • Minimize background distractions in the area directly behind or to the sides of where you’ll sit (distracting artwork, clocks, windows with activity outside, etc.). If possible, remove any motion, since motion is distracting and may cause distortion as the image is transmitted.
    • Dress professionally – the same as for an in-person interview. Try to choose conservative colors and avoid busy patterns or bright whites as they don’t pick up well on cameras. Test it out in advance so you know your look is professional on both sides of the camera.
    • Don’t assume that the interviewer will only see your face. You may need to stand up at some point, so be sure you’re dressed professionally from head to toe.

    During the Interview:

    • The interview process will be the same as an in-person interview. You can expect to be asked the same type of interview questions, so prepare as you would for any other interview. Also, be sure to have several questions prepared to ask the interviewer.
    • Try to limit your movements to normal conversational shifts. Don’t play with your hair or use excessive hand gesturing.
    • If you are interviewing from your home, make sure any TVs and stereos are off in the background. Also, if you have children/pets/walk-in family or neighbors, make arrangements in advance to keep them from starring in your video interview.
    • Eye contact is just as important with a video interview as it is face-to-face. Avoid raising or lowering your eyes/head to the camera, it will be focused on the top of your head. If possible, monitor yourself. Some systems will allow you to keep a “picture-in-picture” of yourself on the screen, so you’ll be able to see what the interviewer sees. You can adjust your position and monitor your body language using this feature.
    • Remember to smile. This makes a very pleasant impression on the interviewer.
    • If there is more than one interviewer, remember that you cannot “turn towards” someone to indicate who you are addressing, nor can you make eye contact. So get the names of the interviewers in advance, and use their names to indicate who you are focusing on in your responses.
    • Non-verbal listening cues become more prominent in a video interview. You will become more aware of the facial expressions of the interviewers and they will be more aware of yours. Try to be more conscious of your expressions. Actively look as though you are interested and listening…they will notice.

    Interviewing via video can be to your advantage if you convey a natural comfort level and confidence with the experience. Interviewers know that most people haven’t used video interviewing before, so if you appear confident on camera, it will reflect well on you.

    After the interview, remember to thank your interviewers and then send a thank you note stressing your interest in the position.

    Pate adds that the Career Services Office wants to connect job seekers with employers they know who are hiring. She urges anyone to follow them on Instagram and Facebook pages and online for video tips, links to resources and current job openings.

    Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused, faith-filled community that offers inventive learning experiences. The university endeavors to prepare its students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.