Best Practices for Virtual Interviewing

In our rapidly-changing world, it is easy to become overwhelmed – especially in the wide world of business and job searching. Many of you may have found yourself unexpectedly unemployed over the last several weeks, or you may be seeing the job search strategy you’ve meticulously crafted over months completely upended by the recent changes in the economic market. You may even be a manager in charge of filling specific roles and needing to add in the additional (and unanticipated) hurdle of technology when sourcing and vetting candidates.

Technology, though, does not have to be a dividing tool. In fact, technology is what will likely keep us together and productive in these unprecedented times. COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape of the way we connect and work for the foreseeable future – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to stop us from successfully connecting. It only means that we need to adjust our expectations and be more intentional with our verbal communication while doing so.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by alumnus Jim Bollenbacher. Jim is the VP and Managing Partner at Bridgeway Search Group, a premier recruiting and staffing firm. Here he shares some excellent tips on how to make certain that your virtual interviews are successful.

Best Practices for Video Conferencing Interviews

  1. Be sure both parties have tested the technology at least two days before the interview.
  2. Internet connection, audio, and video.
  3. Pick a location with minimal distractions in the background.
  4. Send specific instructions on logging in, finding user names, who is initiating the conference, etc.
  5. Exchange phone numbers before the interview in case there are technical difficulties.
  6. Direct each party where to look. Although it might feel unnatural you should look and speak into the CAMERA not the screen.
  7. Position the camera at eye level.
  8. The bottom of your frame should start at the chest.
  9. Have a clear agenda. Who will lead the call and how will the call conclude?

Everyone wants to perform well . . . interviews are stressful enough. If both participants are confident with the technology and have a clear agenda, then they can focus on what’s important . . . are they a match?

Stay safe. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from achieving your 2020 goals!

To read the full text of Jim’s post, or connect with him on LinkedIn, please visit the original article here.


Three Tips for Rocking an Out of State Job Search

So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to spread your wings and relocate to another state for your next career move.  If so, you’re not alone.  A recent survey from MSN shows that 1 in 4 jobseekers are willing and ready to relocate in order to facilitate a career change.  With those statistics, you might think that employers are open to candidates from varying locales, but ask any number of job seekers who have been in the hunt for a job outside of their current area, and you will likely find that securing a position in another state is a bit more challenging than you’d expect.  Oftentimes employers do not offer relocation packages, and they may look poorly on candidates from different areas because of the time and effort that it would take to have them move to the job location.  Sometimes employers just don’t want the bother.

So, what can you do about it?  Below are three tips to help you move your interstate job search forward.

  1. – Remove location markers from your resume

Most recruiters agree that when they see a resume with an out of state address, it comes off as something of a red flag.  They anticipate that employers will give pushback on those candidates, and therefore they are moved to the bottom of the “priority list”.  One of the easiest things that you can do to make yourself more competitive in the out-of-state job market is to remove your address from the document altogether.

Also, keep in mind that an address is no longer an important element of the resume – in fact, it is pretty erroneous information at this point.  You would be better served to use the area traditionally reserved for your address to instead showcase a link to your Linkedin profile or a headline introducing yourself to the employer.

You can also take it a bit farther and remove the locations of previous jobs that you have held as well (since this is also not pertinent information) and use the Google voice app to create a local phone number.  These two strategies are less common, but still considered acceptable according to most recruiters.

  1. – Talk about it and BE HONEST

Once you’ve been called for an interview, it is best to address the topic upfront.  When talking with a potential employer, you should use affirmative language and reference a time-frame for your move.  For example, you might ask for a Skype or phone interview for the first round.  At that point, you would let the company know that you are planning to relocate by saying something along the lines of, “Yes, I currently live in Ohio – however, I anticipate moving to Boston within the next 8 weeks.”  You should also include that you are prepared to move at your own cost, as many companies rule out candidates for whom they feel they will have to make a substantial investment in up front (such as a relocation package).

Also take care not to lie or lead an employer on.  I’ve often seen candidates use a local address on an application in order to avoid getting red flagged for being a non-local applicant.  This is fine – however, be sure that you explain clearly to an employer that this is the address you anticipate staying at once you arrive in the area, and not your current address.  Telling an employer you currently reside in LA with a current employer in Colorado is a sure fire way to get those red flags raised again, and, what’s worse, now you look like a liar to the hiring manager.  Don’t do it – this is never a good idea.

  1. – NETWORK!

Aside from the above two tips, you should treat your out of state job search largely the way that you would a local search – with the exception of needing to cast a much wider net.  Network with as many people as you can from your target area – Linkedin is a great tool for this.  You should be making connections with people in your industry and preferred area – be diligent about this, and make sure any meetings/informational interviews/etc. are as fruitful and meaningful as possible.

You should also be prepared to make a few trips to your target area as well.  Doing this will allow you to meet with your connections in real time, as well as become familiar with the area itself.  Depending on your familial situation, you may also need to research housing, schools, etc.  All of this will be much easier to do in person.

Monster Releases Top 10 Best Companies for Veterans List

November is the month for veterans.  Veterans’ Day is this month, and in recognition of that, and of the wonderful people who have chosen to serve our country, we choose to focus on some of the specific needs and interests of those who are currently or formerly serving in the armed forces.

For those who have left the service and are looking to begin a career in the civilian world, there’s a new article on that may be of interest to you.  Monster has released its list of the “Top 10 Best Companies for Veterans” for 2017. Take a sneak peek at which companies made the list below, or get the scoop on why each company was chosen by visiting the full article here.

Mantech International – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  46%

Intelligent Waves – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  47%

US Customs and Border Protection – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  29%

Lockheed Martin – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  23%

Booz Allen Hamilton – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  30%

Schneider International – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  28%

USAA – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  15%

BAE Systems – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  16.5%

Union Pacific Railroad – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  17.5%

Boeing – Percentage of workforce who are vets:  15%

What is perhaps most interesting about this list is that it is comprised by a high number of federal contractors, as well as many transportation and logistics companies.  This means that there is a high chance of being able to easily convert many of the skills veterans were trained on in their time in the service to practical application in the civilian workplace.

Remember that Alumni Career Management offers one on one support for all alumni of Ohio State, and welcomes veterans who are in search of advice while planning a career transition.  Additional resources can be found on our veterans’ resource page located here.


Communication 101 – Speaking Mistakes You Should No Longer Be Making

Have you ever been in the midst of a conversation with someone, and been so completely distracted by the way that they speak that you completely missed what they were trying to say?  Their delivery somehow muddled their message for you, and the effectiveness of their words was cut short by the way they were communicated to you.

Differences in communication styles have a significant impact on how well we are able to understand and work with one another.  People often make judgements and assumptions about others based on the way that they speak, and many times we draw on diction and inflection as ways to infer and build connections with others.

While we can’t always help certain things about the way we speak – like our accent, innate vocabulary, etc. – we can avoid a few of the most common communication pitfalls that affect people in the workplace.  So, whether you’re preparing to give a presentation, gearing up for a networking event, or simply looking to speak to a colleague or superior, being cognizant of eliminating these from your everyday speech will help ensure that your message is being conveyed clearly, and that the person to whom you’re speaking takes you seriously.

  1. – Vocal Fry

You know that thing that people sometimes do where they make their voice sound like a deflating balloon?  That’s vocal fry.  It can best be observed among people who bring their voice to a lower register as they complete a sentence – examples of famous people who use this communication style often are Britney Spears and any of the Kardashian clan (see below).

Unfortunately, people (particularly women) who use this speaking technique are often perceived as less competent, less educated, and less hireable in the workplace.

  1. – Upspeak /Uptalk

Upspeak (or Uptalk) is one of the most contentious trends in communication over the last 20-30 years.  A quick search of YouTube will foster results from as early as 1994, where people were lamenting the use of the technique even back then.  While there is little agreement to be found on where upspeak itself originates, what is clear is that it is a vocal trend that is almost universally considered annoying and unprofessional.  It can be most easily characterized as ending declarative statements with an “up” sound, giving the indication that you are asking a questions instead of stating something outright.

Upspeak is often considered to be unprofessional because it undermines the speaker’s level of competence in the eyes of the listener.  Ending each statement by appearing to ask a question gives the impression that the speaker is not confident in what he or she is saying, and that impression of lost confidence (whether accurate or not) often causes the listener to lost confidence in them as well.

  1. – Crutches

“Ah” – “Umm” – “Like” – “You know…” – How often do you use one or more of these words when speaking to others?  Words like those above are considered to be “fillers”, and are typically seen as crutches that help a person when he or she is at a momentary loss for words, or is not entirely sure of what he or she is speaking about.  Often we use them without thinking, and don’t even notice when they escape from our lips.

But other people notice them.

As with the other two speech patterns discussed here, crutches can have a negative impact on your ability to communicate well with others because their use conveys a lack of confidence and/or competence.  Often people who overuse crutches give the impression that they are either lying outright or that they don’t have a clear grasp on what they are talking about.

The key takeaway from each of these communication killers is that it is crucial to display confidence and competence when speaking with others, particularly in the workplace.  If you give the impression that you are unsure of yourself and what you are saying, you run the risk of being passed over and not being taken seriously.  Be cognizant not only of what you are saying, but also of how you are saying when speaking with others.

Hitting a Home Run with Phone Interviews

After you’ve applied for a job with a particular company and they’ve had the opportunity to sift through your qualifications and matched them with their expectations for the position, it is now time for the interview process to begin.  Generally speaking, the interviewing process goes through several phases, beginning with the phone interview.  Although these conversations can seem deceptively informal, it is important to remember that you are being evaluated by the interviewer from the time that you answer the phone (possibly even before you pick up), and that everything that you say will be counted toward whether or not you’re selected for a follow up (in person) interview.

But, you know, no pressure or anything.

Here are a few tips to help you score big on your next phone interview, so that you can make it to the next step of securing the job of your dreams:

  1. – Be Prepared

This may sound a bit silly, and maybe it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway:  this is a job interview, and you should be prepared for it the same way that you would be prepared for an in-person interview.

That means making sure that you’re up to date on company information, you’re familiar with the job description, and you can speak to how your skills and experience meet and exceed the desired qualifications outlined therein. You should also make sure that the interviewer has an up to date copy of your resume, just as you would with an in-person interviewer.

  1. – Smile!

This is one of those easy wins for phone interviews.  In a traditional interview setting, you would need to be aware of your body language, posture, etc.  In a phone interview, the interviewer can’t see you, so you don’t need to worry about all of that.  One thing an interviewer can tell via the phone, though, is whether or not you’re smiling.

Smiling while on the phone adds a friendly and affable quality to your voice, and makes it more inviting for others to talk to you.  It truly is something that you can hear through the phone, so in order to ensure that you’re making a good impression, be sure to smile through you interview, even if you’re nervous!

  1. – Don’t speak in jargon

This is a general rule for all interviews, but especially for phone interviews.  Using industry specific jargon doesn’t make you sound like an expert in a field – it makes you sound like someone who googled a bunch of words so that you could sound smart while talking to a company representative.  Avoid it as much as possible, and opt for authentic, explanatory language instead.

  1. – Be professional and gracious

Again, it is critical to remember, even though this is a less formal version of an interview, it is still in fact an interview.  Be professional in both your tone and the language that you use.  Be sure to thank the interviewer for their time, and to follow up with a thank you email or note once the interview is over.  It could mean the difference in being invited back for a second chance with an in-person interviewer.

  1. – Ask for the next step

It is appropriate (and encouraged) to ask what your expectations should be following a phone interview.  Ask about their timelines with regard to decision-making, and whether or not they need anything additional from you at this stage.  You want to be sure that you’ve supplied them with everything that they need in order to make an informed decision about who you are and how well they can expect you to fit into their team dynamic, but you also don’t want to come on too strong by overwhelming them with unsolicited artifacts.  Asking shows engagement on your behalf, and also prevents you from being too aggressive.