Old Interview Guidance That No Longer Applies
The old days of walking into a job interview, handing the interviewer your resume, and answering a set of standardized questions are basically out the window. So, if you’re getting guidance from a source written more than a few years ago, it should probably go out the window too. Sure, some standard guidelines still apply, like making sure you are “hygienically appealing.” But there are several important changes you need to be aware of if your current job hunt is going to be successful.
In 2022, some topics that used to be taboo aren’t and some that didn’t used to be, are. For example, there used to be an unwritten rule you shouldn’t discuss salary and benefits during the first interview. However, that rule no longer applies. With qualified candidates in short supply these days, the interview is more about what you can do for each other than simply what you can do for the employer. Therefore, salary has become an acceptable subject, and benefits even more so with the pressing need for good health insurance thanks to COVID-19.
On the other side of the coin, many questions that interviewers used to routinely ask about your personal life are now not only taboo, they are actually illegal. Interviewers are forbidden to ask you about your marital status, your children, your age, your current or previous salary—they can’t even ask you if you’ve ever been arrested. Even if these topics are brought up casually, discussions about them should be avoided.
The interview venue
Until recently, job seekers could expect to meet with hiring managers in their office, starting from interview one. Today, you might not meet anyone face-to-face until the third+ encounter. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the trend toward video conferenced interviews was already taking off. And it makes perfect sense, considering how much time and money can be saved by weeding through the masses over Zoom.
Video interviews are especially efficient for companies that tend to hire people from out of town. But even if your potential employer is a block away, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to participate in the first phase or two of the interview process virtually.
So, what does that mean for your interview strategy? Paradoxically, you need to treat the interview as if it were face-to-face. Just because you could probably get away with wearing pajama bottoms and slippers, doesn’t mean you should. The more professional you feel, the more professional you’ll come across.
You also need to be aware of maintaining eye contact, just as you would in person. So, no cue cards or cheat sheets. Look directly at your interviewer as if they were sitting across from you, speak clearly, maintain good posture—all of these old guidelines still apply. The difference is you have to adjust them to the virtual setting. This may take some practice, and if you’re feeling anxious, try virtually interviewing with your friends to see how well you do. And for your own peace of mind, check your audio, video, and other technical parameters before the interview starts.
Another consideration in virtual interviewing that didn’t apply in the past is your backdrop. No matter how dressed for success you are, you’re not going to impress anyone sitting in front of an unmade bed or in a messy kitchen. And don’t forget, your interviewer cannot only see everything in your surroundings, they can also hear it. So, no Dexter reruns playing in the background and no screaming children. Even at home, professionalism is paramount.
Virtually or not, there are still going to be some interviewers who stick with the tried-and-true questions about where you see yourself in five years and what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are. For those interviews, traditional guidance still applies. However, more and more employers are changing things up, and you need to be prepared for whatever they throw at you.
Your interviewer might decide to play a word game with you or propose a virtual scenario that requires you to role-play a solution. They may use behavioral interviewing techniques that can range from giving you personality tests to asking questions that illuminate your communication skills or level of motivation. Practicing responses to standard interview questions is not going to be particularly helpful here. The best thing you can do to prepare for these “left field” approaches is to practice introspection and gain a confident picture of who you really are.
The world of work is always changing, and job interviews are no exception. While some advice will always be valid, like showing respect and learning about the company, other guidance is no longer applicable. If you want to be successful in the modern interview, you’ll need to adjust to the new landscape.