If you’ve stuck with me this far, first of all, you’re a trooper. Second of all, you deserve a trophy for all the hard work that you’ve just put into your resume. Resume development, refinement, tweaking, and tailoring are no small feat and can take hours upon hours to accomplish. Unfortunately, I don’t have a trophy for your hard work, but chances are you’ve received the next best thing: The call for an interview. So let’s cover this coveted opportunity!
When you get contacted for an interview, it’s a feeling like no other. As you hang up that phone, you’re likely going to experience a flood of emotions covering a wide array, from excitement and joy to anxiety and even fear. This is normal. Take a deep breath because, in his part of the series, we’re going to equip you to put your best foot forward in the interview. The first step in preparing to knock an interview out of the park is understanding what you may be walking into. So let’s talk about the various aspects of the exhilarating and equally terrifying interview!
Right out the gate, when you get contacted for the interview, once you’ve scheduled a time, they will tell you the medium, or type, of interview. There are four mediums in which interviews are conducted: In-person, telephonic, video conference, or recorded. You may be informed that there will be multiple rounds of interviews over the course of days/weeks. Generally, if the interviews are going to be conducted in multiple rounds (each round designed to “whittle” down the number of qualified candidates), you will find that the order of precedence (if they use all of them) is: Taped interview, Telephonic and/or Video Conference, and finally in person. As you can imagine, the video and telephonic interviews have gained a lot of popularity, even post-pandemic.
Regardless of which medium is used for your interview, there are pros and cons to each. There is no one clear advantage of one over the others, so don’t fret if they tell you it’s an in-person interview and you were really hoping for a telephonic. Today, we’re going to cover the pros and cons so that you can know how to leverage the particular medium for your interview.
Taped interviews are not very common, are very impersonal, and if utilized, are usually employed as the first step of multiple-round interview styles. Sometimes you’ll be guided to participate in a taped interview before you ever speak to a real-life person. For one job I had applied to just as I was coming out of uniform, I had applied, and a couple of days later received an email that directed me to a website to record myself interviewing. No phone call or any discussion at all. Just an email with directions on what to do next. This is common with this medium.
Your instructions will likely direct you to a website with login info provided, and you will be prompted to click some sort of “Go” button. Once you click on “Go” it will prompt you with the first interview question, accompanied by a timer. Once the timer counts down to zero the page will begin recording you via your webcam, a new timer will begin, and you’ll answer the question that had been posed. Once the second timer runs out, the page will refresh, your recording will be logged, and you’ll be prompted with another button to begin the process all over again with a new question. Now let’s cover the pros and cons.
Taped interviews have no interaction. There’s no one reacting to your answers, no visual feedback, and no awkward silence because silence is inherent. Folks newer to interviewing can find themselves performing much better in this medium than in-person and video interviews where you may be thrown off by an interviewer physically reacting to something you say, or in telephonic interviews, where there are often uncomfortable silences that can be very awkward.
For more experienced interviewees, taped interviews can be a good warm-up for later rounds in the interview. Also, taped interviews are at your own leisure, meaning you don’t have to worry about taking time off work to travel to an interview site or jump on a call or video chat. Rather, you can wait until you get home after work or when you wake up before work, get comfy in those favorite sweatpants, focus your thoughts, and put your best foot forward.
The flip side of this coin is because it’s very impersonal, if you prefer to get that visual feedback from interviewers, you lose it in this situation. Similarly, because everything is timed – both questions and answers – you get what you get. When the timer runs out, that’s all there is. If you don’t understand a question, there’s no way to ask for clarification or rewording. Also, because this is all virtual, there’s always the risk of your internet cutting out at the worst possible moment.
The next type of interviewing is telephonic. Like taped interviews, this can be a little daunting for those who like to “read” the interviewer(s) but can be advantageous to someone who is newer to job interviews. Of course, unlike a taped interview, this is much more interactive and engaging, as you will be conversing with another person or a panel. Telephonic interviews also tend to follow the common interview structure, which we’ll discuss more in-depth in Part V(c), but will likely require you to have a short bio prepared, as well as questions to ask the interviewer(s).
A huge advantage to this medium that the other mediums don’t allow for nearly as much is visual aids. What I mean by this is the opportunity to have items in front of you to help you during the interview. This can include a copy of your resume to draw answers from, a sticky note with the word “STARS” written on it (which we’ll also cover in Part V(c)), or a notepad to jot down things like the interviewer(s) name(s), things that they mention, or aspects of the question that you want to touch on. Heck, you can even be wearing pajamas and slippers for complete comfort!
Of course, the flip side of this, just like they cannot see you and what you’re doing, you cannot see them either. Telephonic interviews not only prevent you from seeing how they may react to an answer you’ve given, but you also can’t see what they’re doing at the moment, and this can lead to extremely uncomfortable silences. These silences occur because interviewer(s) commonly take notes during your answer so that they can refer back to them later when assessing your overall interview performance. Often times they are still writing well after you’re done speaking. If you were in person or on a video conference, you’d be able to see this and would feel a little less bothered by the silence. However, because you’re on the phone with no visual cue, it is very tempting to “freak out” a little when you finish talking and experience another 15-30 seconds of dead silence!
The key to this is to simply expect it upfront. Go into your telephonic interview knowing that there are going to be extremely awkward silences where no one is speaking and that it’s okay. Do not keep prattling on just because you don’t hear them speak! Once the interviewer(s) are done writing, they’ll chime back in to progress to the next question or topic.
Video conference interviews have grown immensely common during the pandemic. These provide many of the features and benefits of an in-person interview, but without the necessity of travel and close-quarter contact. The downside is that it also requires you to have a solid internet connection and equipment set up to ensure no interruptions during the interview.
Like the taped interview, you are able to leverage your environment to be a little more comfortable than you may be in a conference room face-to-face. Get in your comfiest chair, throw on your comfiest slippers, and light that calming scented candle, because they won’t be any of the wiser. However, be mindful of what your background looks like and still “dress the part” from at least the waist up.
Unlike the telephonic interview where you can have a plethora of “cheat” sheets in front of you, such as your resume, this medium is a little more restricted. I’m not saying that you can’t have anything in front of you, but what you don’t want is for them to see your head and eyes darting around while you look at different papers that you have in front of you. What I have coached people in doing is have no more than your resume, a sticky note of STARS (again, covered in Part V(c)) stuck to the side of your monitor, and a notepad – and tell them about the notepad. When the interview starts, tell them that you intended on having a notepad with you for notes, and ask if they’re okay with that! So long as they say yes, it will be a little less alarming to them as your head and eyes move off of the screen, as they’ll assume you’re taking notes.
In-person interviews are the traditional method of interviewing and are still preferred by many hiring managers when feasible. Like a video conference medium, these allow for the ability to read facial expressions and other nonverbal feedback. However, as the interviewee, you’re going to have to “look the part” from head to toe. Also, you won’t be able to have any of those “cheats” in front of you. But, while these can be the most challenging form of interviewing for inexperienced applicants, they are also the best opportunity for those who have prepared or are more seasoned to really shine with charisma, body language, presence, and character!
Hopefully, you’ve found some use in Part V(a) of our Employment chat. If you did, share it with your fellow service members so that they can also hopefully glean some insight into the various aspects of transition. And of course, join me next week for Part V(b) of the Employment chat as we talk about the elements of the interview!
Until next time, be safe, stay healthy, and remember that you’re not in this alone!
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