Top tips for lockdown job interviews

Hannah is a CV feedback volunteer for our Work It Out service and works in the tech industry. Here she shares her advice on job hunting and tips on approaching video call interviews.

We’re all in this together

There has been a lot of change recently and this has certainly had an impact on people looking for a new job. Remember that it is completely understandable if you’re finding it tough and I want to remind you to be kind to yourself.

The good news is that there are some companies who are looking to take on new staff at the moment. This means they will be holding a mixture of telephone call and video call interviews. When you apply for a role don’t be disheartened if it takes a little while to get a response, put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and remember they will have lots going on their end too.

Keep an eye on job websites and set a fixed amount of time every week or day to apply for roles if possible. Have a go at tackling your job hunt on Facebook Jobs or LinkedIn by searching “starting a new job” in the search bar under “Content”. This will pull up people who are promoting companies that are actively hiring. There is also lots of free content here with tips and advice for job seekers.

When you do get your first interview, here are some things to keep in mind and points to help you prepare.

Do your preparation

Firstly, it’s key that you reply to confirm you would like to attend an interview and let them know whether you can make the time they have suggested. Make sure to also ask them if there is anything specific you need to prepare. This question shows you’re already keen and want to make the most of the opportunity and interview.

Next, if it is a video interview, think about where you will take it. If possible, try to have a plain background behind you and make sure you won’t be interrupted by others. You should dress as if it’s a face to face formal interview.

If you have the names of your interviewers, look them up on LinkedIn. Reading their profile will give you an idea of how long they have worked at the organisation and other companies they have worked for. Look for similar experience you have had to find things you might have in common.

Have a good look at the organisation website and social media. Often, reading their news section (if they have one) is a good way to get an understanding of the current focus. Try and look at their company mission so you have an understanding of it before the interview, as they might ask you what you like about the company and this is a good answer to have prepared.

Make sure you have:

  • A copy of your CV nearby to you to read through
  • Paper and a pen for anything you need to write down
  • A glass of water in case you’re nervous and need a drink
  • Get set up at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time so you’re ready to join the call on time.

During the interview

The first question interviewers are likely to ask you is “tell me about yourself”. It is good to begin with some of your background, perhaps what you studied at school or your keen interests. Then end the answer with your most recent work experience and how it links to the role you’ve applied for.

The second question is often “walk me through your CV”. They want to hear a brief summary of your experience. They are likely to have already read your CV so this is for you to talk through the highlights and relevant experience to the role you’ve applied for. Make sure you know your CV inside out and highlight key things you’re most proud of. Always refer to the job description you’ve applied for, for example if the role references working as part of a team or on a specific project type, pull out experiences of this from your CV.

Make sure to explain why you think you’d be a good fit for the role. It’s a good idea to ask “can you describe the ideal candidate for this role?” and “what are the skills needed to master this job?” this will help you to point to your own experience and explain how you fit their brief.

Be conscious of time in the interview, it is likely interviews will not go over the time allocated, so, make sure you allow time to share your strengths and abilities that you can support with examples. If there are a few minutes left and you feel you have not shared this, ask them if they are happy for you to give this overview.

Acknowledge the situation

Any interview is nerve wracking, especially when during uncertain times. It is okay to reference this and say “usually I’d want to shake your hand when beginning an interview”. It is completely understandable to be nervous.

Try and show empathy. It is likely their team has faced new challenges, so it is a good idea to ask your interviewer and the team you’re applying for how they are and how they have had to change in the current climate.

Lean on us

And a personal good luck message from me! Amid all the uncertainty one thing’s for sure, Young Women’s Trust are still here to support you!

Work It Out job application feedback offers free personalised support on your CV, cover letter or job application and is available to any woman aged 18-30 living in England and Wales.

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