From Cleared Jobs by Michael Barmun
Whether it’s on Zoom or in person, interviewing is a skill set. I tell candidates if you get an opportunity to interview for a relevant role, don’t waste anyone’s time. Practice interviewing and ask for feedback at the end of the interview, whether you think it went well or not. Interviews are a two-way process. You should be interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Preparing for a video interview is more than sitting down and turning on the camera. Make sure you’re in a quiet place, you have a good internet connection, and that you have your phone nearby in case you need to make a phone call if Zoom isn’t working. Be ready with a backup plan. You should also review your resume. Remember, anything on your resume is fair game to be asked about because you put it there.
Answer All Interview Questions
The negative feedback I’ve received routinely, across my entire history of recruiting, is that candidates can be nervous and they don’t seem to answer questions. Sometimes candidates won’t answer questions directly – you can easily go off on a tangent, especially if you’re passionate about what you do. But practice makes perfect. Slow down and make sure you have ground in the interview. You can even say, “Did I answer that question?”
Working through questions during interviews is something that some of my successful candidates have done. Don’t be afraid to start with, “Well, I’m not sure.” Humble yourself and be realistic, but present how you would go about getting to that answer. Some people don’t want to answer a question if they don’t have the answer. It’s okay to work through problems in an interview and explain how you would get there.
If you’re qualified for the role, you have a general knowledge of what you’re interviewing for. So prepare for the interview by making sure that if a question is asked, you’ll be able to communicate beyond a yes or no answer. Come prepared for questions that are not in the job description or examples of how you’ve overcome problems that are similar to the problems the team needs solved for the role.
Crafting A Good Resume
I look at resumes like a personal narrative. It’s not easy to write a good one and it takes a long time to craft. So I always tell people to look at your resume once a month, even if you’re not looking for a job, keep it up and read it aloud to yourself. Is it boring? Is it a novel? You want to make sure that it’s clear and concise. If it looks very wordy or paragraph heavy, it’s hard for us to get excited when we start squinting our eyes and looking in detail. Make it concise, but make sure you’re really explaining to somebody who doesn’t know what you do, what you do.
I’m not a stickler on resumes, in terms of, it has to be one page or something specific has to be at the top or the bottom. But I am a big fan of a little mission statement. I think that goes a long way. Something along the lines of, this is me and this is what I’m looking for, like “I want to be manager,” or “I want to utilize x, y, z.” It guides how I’m going to read the rest of your resume.
As for the actual work experience, write down what you accomplished in a measurable manner. Go beyond, “I completed all my goals,” because I don’t know what your goals were. Tell people what you did and how you accomplished it. Don’t put fluff in there – put pertinent information that is relevant to the job you’re applying to.
Targeting vs. Rewriting Your Resume
One question I get is, can I change my resume for every job that I apply to? I always say the bulk of your experience should be pretty straightforward. You shouldn’t be applying for things that are way across the spectrum that you’re not qualified for.
Changing small details for each role you apply to is a good thing, but to have completely different resumes is tough. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where a manager has two different resumes and doesn’t know if it’s two different people. But if you want to change something like the mission statement or some key aspects of what you’ve done that are more relevant, you should change up little things here and there.
Leverage Virtual Events
I imagine seeing virtual events, even post-pandemic, happening quite a bit more. I can talk to a candidate from California and New York in the same 15 to 30 minutes at a virtual event. So I don’t see them going away. They’re just too convenient and affordable, and they allow companies, big and small, to reach all different levels of candidates.
I wouldn’t say that you have to attend every virtual event, but give yourself opportunities, and realize that not everyone is going to yield a job. I’m a big proponent of taking all the opportunities you can, and you never know what connection you’re going to make or the type of resource you’re going to get.