Nailing the Interview Process (Even From Afar)

Jamie Perry
July 21, 2020

Now that we are seeing the job market begin to recover and some organizations take the plunge and hire again, you might be asking yourself, “what now?” and “how will this work?” Interviewing for jobs in a remote work environment might look different than it did a few months ago. We are here to walk you through the process.  

As you already know, a job interview is an opportunity to sell yourself and prove to the hiring manager that you are the best person for the role. We understand that you might feel a bit nervous about interviewing over Zoom or Skype, but fear not: everyone is in the same position.

Here are our top five tips for nailing a video interview:

1. First impressions are everything. Your appearance and interview setting are extremely important. Make sure that you are dressed for the job that you want, not the job you have. You should appear professional, polished and poised even if you are used to working from home in your sweatpants. Make sure that your area is well lit, tidy, and free of any sounds (pets and children included!) so that your interview is not interrupted. While we know that most people are working from home and family and pets may be present, it is important that you prioritize your interview time and do everything possible to control distractions in your space. The mute button is your friend when you are not speaking! If you do not feel comfortable with a background in your home for the interview, be sure to check out the virtual background options on different interview video platforms - a tasteful backdrop can help ease the pressure of having the perfect home office setup.

2. Look into the camera when you are speaking (not at yourself). While it is sometimes easy to be distracted by fixing your hair or fidgeting with your clothing, it is important to relax and look directly at the camera so that your interviewer feels you are looking them in the eye. Be clear, concise, and on topic when you are answering questions from the interviewer.

3. Prepare your notes and questions in advance. One of the best parts of a virtual interview is that you can keep a list of notes or important points nearby. Prior to the interview, figure out the spot that works best for you, but remember that eye contact with the camera is key. It might be a good idea to have a video chat with a friend beforehand so they can share feedback with you about your lighting, volume, eye contact and demeanor. Try putting sticky notes on your computer screen or on the wall across from you. Remember to make them legible and clear.

4. Record your interview. This is the perfect opportunity to self evaluate and determine how you can improve in the future. Did you remember to share key points and ideas? Did you ask the right questions? Were you satisfied with your responses to questions? This may help prepare you to do your best the next time around. That said, be sure to ask permission before you press record!

5. Send a thank-you note. Thank-you notes are especially important if you do not have the opportunity to meet in person. A thank-you email within 24 hours is a must, and a handwritten thank-you note dropped in the mail that day is even better- but you must do both! There is nothing worse than not receiving a thank you for 3-4 days because you only thanked the interviewer by snail mail. In our years of conducting executive searches, we have very rarely seen a candidate secure a second-round interview without sending a thank you note the first time. If you cannot thank the person you are trying to convince to hire you, how will you treat donors or customers? Remember: this is your chance to seal the deal.

Take a deeper dive with us on our July 23rd webinar, when we share additional tips about presenting yourself to employers during this unique time. Register today for Making Your Way in Today’s Nonprofit Job Market, a conversation with nonprofit talent experts.

If you are a current job seeker and are looking for roles in the nonprofit space, please send your resume to Jamie Perry, Consultant, Executive Search to be added to our candidate database.