How to ace new-age interviews

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Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

THE TELECON

Telephonic interviews are an easy way to communicate with you, especially if the company is based in another town. Pretoria-based Suyan Budhoo, a life coach at Success Focus, explains: “Telephonic interviews can be conducted when the interviewee cannot attend an initial interview, perhaps due to the job being in another city or overseas. This type of interviewing saves time, recruitment and travel costs. It can also help an employer to decide which candidates should go on a short list to interview face to face.”

How to prepare: The best way to make a good impression is to be beyond prepared. This includes ensuring that your phone is fully charged. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re in a quiet space with a good signal, so you don’t miss anything during your interview. Since you can’t see each other, it may be hard to impress your interviewer with just your voice and what you say.

Life coach Katlego Kolobe says practising will enable you to assess what you sound like and if you’re ready. “Practise, practise, practise – record yourself and listen to how you sound. Do you sound professional and enthusiastic, or tired? You should also do a practice run with a trusted friend. Set up everything as if it’s the actual interview. Ask your friend to give you feedback.”

Budhoo agrees, adding that posture is important in projecting your voice. “Stand up when talking,” she says. “This will add power to your tone of voice. It will also make you sound more confident. Refrain from eating, drinking or chewing gum. And be involved in the conversation. Show that you’re engaged by giving ‘yes’ or ‘I see’ answers.”

THE VIDEO INTERVIEW

Whether you Skype or use platforms like Google Hangouts or FaceTime, remember that a video interview can take place in the presence of a panel rather than just one person on camera.

How to prepare: As with a telephonic interview, make sure that your technology is up to scratch. Kolobe says: “Use social media like LinkedIn to do some of the leg work for you; don’t just rely on your CV. Your business profile on social media gives prospective companies an idea of who you are, which helps when all you have is a 15-minute telecon or video interview. If you’ve never used Skype, set up an account, record a video and do test runs with a friend. Watch your videos to review and improve how you come across. And make sure the background looks clean and professional. Keep short, sharp notes next to your laptop out of sight, and ensure that you can reference any reminders easily.”

Dr Antje Berlin – an executive coach at Berlin Coaching – advises that you use the flexibility you have. Use being in the comfort of your own space to your advantage by relaxing and showing your potential employer the best version of yourself. “But make sure that technology doesn’t get in the way of you presenting yourself,” she warns. “You still need to put across your authentic self in the interview. It’s all about connection – taking the time to get to know the other person on video. Do research on the company website, and on the LinkedIn account of the person interviewing you, so you’re more familiar with them. The beauty of the video interview is that you can talk from the comfort of your own home. It removes the stress of your getting stuck in traffic on your way to the interview and worrying that you’ll arrive late and appear unprofessional. This way, it’s easier to be relaxed, on time and your authentic self.”

Dr Berlin advises interviewees to listen carefully, so that they can engage in a two-way conversation with the interviewer. “It isn’t about just one person speaking. Don’t interrupt the interviewer in mid-sentence with your prepared response. You need to listen, wait for him or her to finish, and then speak. Listening plays a big part in this type of interview. And timing is important – it’s not just about you delivering the message of how great you are. Wait for when it’s right for you to describe how you plan to create something new with the company that will fit with who you and they are.”

Dressing properly is also a must. Even though you’re communicating via video, you still need to make an impression. “You still want to be in work mode in your head space,” says Dr Berlin, “so don’t stay in your pyjamas or look like you just got out of bed. Flexibility is the up side to the video interview, but discipline comes with it. You have to get up and be ready, as if you were walking into an office. Look presentable.”

THE PITCH

Getting a candidate to pitch a demo project or give a presentation of what they’d do if hired is a new way of sussing out which candidate is best suited for a job. It’s about more than your CV and skill set – it’s also about the style you project and your way of thinking. It’s a great way for the interviewer to get a sense of your abilities. Even if you aren’t great at in-person interviews or interpersonal skills, you can compensate with your ideas and solutions for a project. This type of interview is all about selling yourself.

How to prepare: Dr Berlin explains that pitching a solution to a problem that the interviewer assigns you is the perfect opportunity to show that you’re capable of being part of the team. “Do your research, as it gives you something to start a conversation with. You could start by saying something like: ‘I saw you do a lot of outreach work with the NGO [name it]. It’s something I’m interested in, which is why I took this angle.’ “That way, it gives more common ground and you can build a human connection. It’s about work culture as well: when you pitch, the interviewer is trying to assess whether you’d fit the team.”

Kolobe agrees that preparing a demo project gives you the opportunity to see if your personal goals are the same as the company’s, and if you can be part of its culture and add value. “Be clear on your career and personal goals,” she says. “You need to express exactly why you want the job, and why you are the best among the thousands who may be suited to it. Employers now recruit from all over, so stand out by explaining exactly how your goals match those of the firm. Pitching challenges you to know how you will add value, what you still need to learn, and what you find exciting or interesting.”

Dr Berlin says: “Don’t make your presentation a monologue. Don’t rush it. Trust that you’ll be interesting enough for the interviewer to listen. Break it up into chunks so people can ask questions and comment in between. Be interested in what they have to say and be flexible, knowing there’ll be some interruptions.

So prepare, but don’t be rigid. You need to include what’s coming in from the other side, and be confident to create on the spot. Use this chance to let your hard work and enthusiasm show.” If you do it just right, you can score yourself a new job.

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