Job interviews can be tricky at the best of times. Throw in a sudden need for them to be conducted online and there is an extra layer of difficulty for both candidates and interviewers.

For Elizabeth Conley of The Interview Skills Clinic, the pandemic has meant a change in both what she is training candidates for and in how she trains them.

Traditional face to face interviews have been replaced by remote discussions as Covid-19 forced companies to shift online.

Candidates preparing for online interviews need to think about their technical set up, she says. The quality of the internet connection is particularly important for both interviewers and interviewees, and she also recommends not relying on webcams and microphones that are integrated in devices. Integrated cameras can leave interviewers with a close-up shot of the candidate’s face, she says, while the microphones are not ideal either.

Elizabeth Conley says sending candidates videos of their coaching sessions has boosted success rates for clients © The Interview Skills Clinic

“We’d say to clients to invest in a small mike,” she says. “If the sound is going through the mike on the device [it] is very flat. People often get feedback that…they don’t sound very enthusiastic because the voice is very flat. It’s got no variation in the tone .”

The pandemic has not all been about new barriers for candidates though. Conley says that the move to remote and flexible working has opened up new opportunities for people that might not have been there before.

“We’ve had people applying for roles they would not have applied for before,” she says. “I had somebody in Scotland applying for a job where the interview would have been in Bristol.”

Conley has also had to alter the way she has delivered her interview training. Face to face coaching has been replaced by online sessions, but there has also been a change in the length of each session.

“Face to face, we would have had a 90 minute coaching session. Online, we found that 90 minutes was too long for clients and coaches. It is a long time to focus on one person so now all our coaching sessions are 60 minutes,” she says.

There has been a hidden advantage though. The Interview Skills Clinic records the online sessions, and sends the videos to the candidates for them to watch again later. That has resulted in a higher success rate for the company’s clients.

While Conley has adapted her business to remote working, she sees the advantages of traditional interviews.

“To assess all aspects of a candidate, you can’t do better than a face to face interview,” she says. “I think companies are better doing a final interview face to face.”

This is the latest in a series for the blog that explores the effects of the pandemic on people and businesses around the world

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