Interviewing in a Pandemic – 6 Things that Have Changed and 6 That Stayed the Same

By Shana Marr

Photo by Christina Morillo on

The world may disagree on a lot of things – but I think we can all admit that job searching in the midst of COVID-19 is not for the faint of heart.  However, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems – and not so surprisingly, many of the same rules and best practices still apply.

What’s the same?

  1. As is always true, you want to do your research on the company beforehand.  There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming, but here are the best places to focus your research efforts:Set up Google Alerts – (actually, do this for every company that you have interest in).  Bonus points – set up a Google Alert for their competitors.  (this requires you do your research to find out who their competitors are)
    • Follow them on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
    • The company website
    • LinkedIn – look up all interview participants on LinkedIn prior to the interview.  What do you have in common – Do they volunteer at your church?  Are you connected to some of the same people? Did you attend the same college or do you root for their college’s football team? You can bring up these commonalities or complement their career progression during the interview!
    • GlassDoor – This will give insight into common questions asked during the interview as well as what it’s like to work there
  2. Read the job description again just before the interview and be sure to have examples of experiences you’ve had that fit the description. Many interviewers follow the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). If you aren’t familiar with this – look it up prior to the interview and be prepared with examples of situations (that preferably relate to the job description) that you can answer in this format.
  3. Be prepared with good questions.  Some of these will come from your research.  For example, if you find that their competitor is coming out with a new product you can show you’ve done your research (as well as that you’re a smart strategic thinker – bonus!!) by asking what their plan is to compete.
  4. It’s okay to take notes!  Jot down the high-level notes during the interview and then immediately following, fill in the details (do this right after so you don’t forget!)
  5. Get contact information from all interviewers so you can send a thank you note (also ask if they’re ok with you reaching out if you have questions following the interview)
  6. Dress appropriately and be well-groomed… even if the interview is via video!  By the way, it’s ok to ask what the normal office attire is.  Dress at least one level above what they would normally wear.  It’s better to be overdressed than it is to be underdressed.  

What’s changed?

  1. No handshakes (for obvious reasons)
  2. Masks – ask beforehand if masks are required and unless you have a medical reason, wear one (no matter if you think they work or not)!  Also, if you do have a medical reason be sure you let them know ahead of time.
  3. It’s ok to reschedule if you are feeling under the weather (or move the interview to video/virtual).  The company will not be upset but will actually thank you for it!
  4. Many interviews are now via video (especially 1st and 2nd interviews) – If this is the case, be sure your background isn’t cluttered, you look directly at the web-cam and you are dressed appropriately (not just the top half – we’ve all seen the mishaps that can happen when you stand up!)  You should also be in a spot that has good Wi-Fi reception and where you will not be interrupted.  If you’ve never interviewed on camera – practice with a friend, your spouse, mom or whoever is willing!!
  5. You may not get to see the environment where you’ll be working or get as good an idea of the culture because your interview will likely take place offsite.  Many companies now have a virtual office tour for this reason.  If not, don’t be afraid to ask what the office and culture are like.  (this is best asked once you’ve done your research and can say something to the effect of, “On your website it appears the office space is very open.  Can you tell me more about it?” or “Based on what I’ve seen on your Facebook page, it seems the company culture is very team oriented.  Is there anything else you would say to describe the culture?”  This will not only give you insight into the office space and culture, but it also makes you look good in the process!
  6. It’s far easier to keep your current boss from knowing you’re interviewing!  One perk of working remotely is that you have more flexibility to arrange your schedule to interview with minimum time disruption in your current role.  You can usually flex your hours to accommodate for lost time – keeping everything running smoothly while putting yourself in position for that next great opportunity!

And remember – ATTITUDE is everything!  If you aren’t a positive person, no amount of preparation or experience will help you beat out the competition.  Believe in yourself, have confidence and even if the interview is on the phone – SMILE!  I have seen so many hires happen (and not happen) based on attitude alone!

One thought on “Interviewing in a Pandemic – 6 Things that Have Changed and 6 That Stayed the Same

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: