As if being a new college graduate seeking your first job wasn’t hard enough, you’re doing it in a time of unprecedented change. In the light of the COVID pandemic, many recent college grads feel quite uncertain and discouraged about entering the workforce.
While the pandemic has disrupted the status quo flow of business, it’s also spawned innovation. Businesses are pivoting to serve customers in novel, safer, more effective ways, and the surprising result for many has been increased efficiency. So, as you interview to join the workforce, do keep in mind that you, too, will likely need to pivot and adjust to achieve success.
Interview Tips For Graduates During The Pandemic
- Analyze Yourself Against Your Target Job
It’s easy to feel you don’t have direction during chaotic times, but the worst thing you can do in an interview is appear directionless. Use the chaos to your advantage by showing the interviewer that you have your finger on the pulse of how business is operating now and are ready to put your assets to use.
Begin by throughly researching your target position and employer using press releases, newsletters, social media, and so forth:
What challenges have they faced recently?
- How did they overcome/ fail?
- Has their company culture shifted direction?
- Has their brand or business model evolved?
- How have the skills, knowledge, function, and demands for the job in question changed since the pandemic?
It may help to reach out to alumni in your field. Ask if you can conduct an informational interview to gather insider info about what they’re experiencing in the workplace.
Now, think about how your unique personal and professional attributes apply to those changes and challenges. Be specific.
Start with a list of five key traits that you would contribute to the job. Think of an example for each to show how you used that attribute toward success, particularly in cases where you’ve had to use critical thinking skills to reset and readjust.
Be prepared to make the puzzle pieces fit for the employer. Sometime near the end of the interview, you’ll want to be able to articulate in clear, concise language why your mindset, personality, understanding of the industry, respect for the brand, and overall skill set are a perfect match for both the position and company culture.
- Be Flexible
Yes, you worked hard for your degree. But, if your industry is suffering, think about how you can reformulate your skills to a different niche. It’s not about gaining new skills so much as it is applying for jobs where your existing skills can be used to benefit a different industry or job category.
Of course, you’ll need to offer analogies and clear contrast to the interviewer about how your attributes can be assets to the open position.
Speak to your career adviser or counselor if you’re unsure what industries your skills might easily transfer.
Your schedule also needs to be flexible. Know when and where you can work? Is remote or home-based work possible? You might have wanted that 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, but you need to be willing to get your foot in the door with whatever position is open so long as it’s feasible.
- Tailor Your Message
Now isn’t that time to be generic or blasé. Employers at this crucial time do not want to waste hiring dollars on someone just looking for just any job to get by until something better comes along. Hiring managers are looking for passion, enthusiasm, and creativity. Showcase your soft skills and prioritize skills that are multidiscipline. If you’re interviewing for a position outside your wheelhouse, have a strong, exciting message to explain the why.
- Prepare For Remote Hiring Processes
Do you have the equipment for a virtual interview? By all means, make sure that your connection is adequate and that your environment is up to par for the scheduled interview time. Check the background for any politically incorrect materials. Ensure friends and family know the interview time and not to disturb you.
If you’re not accustomed to video or audio, do some mock interviews for practice. Zoom, WebEx and Skype all have testing links.
Ensure the lightning is adequate for a good picture and that your location doesn’t echo. Pay close attention to your body language and voice strength. It’s easy to get lax when you’re in the comfort of your home for an interview. Don’t forget to dress the part. Remember the newscaster with the suit and tie and no pants? Don’t be that guy.
If you have a choice, always go with the video interview. Being able to see your interviewer helps you take social cues on the direction of your answers.
Do keep in mind that employers are using online sources more than ever right now in their vetting process. Keep your social pages clean and neat, set up a professional profile on forums like LinkedIn, and create a professional online blog to showcase your personal and professional talents. The latter is an excellent interview topic that can be demonstrative of your professional passion.
In closing, while the job market may feel completely foreign with business model changes and virtual interviews, the above tips will help you use it all to your advantage.