When it comes to giving tips and guidance on how to prepare for a job interview on zoom/teams, and job interview tips for people who are shy, nervous, or introverts, we are the experts!
Vice Arabia's Rana Afifi has published an interview with our Communications Director Larissa Qat, EFE-Jordan's CEO Ghadeer Ghuffash and EFE-Jordan Training Manager Mohmmad Irshaid. Click here to read the full piece. (The article is in the Arabic language and the translation is below).
"Job interviews are always stressful for reasons ranging from the right appearance, the way you shake hands, to arriving at the right address. This equation changed after the Coronavirus crisis, and the way we work completely changed, and our day now begins and ends with a Zoom meeting.
The person interviewed online may feel what might be described as negative stardom, as all the lights are on him/her, in a cinematic way. The camera of his/her device transmits his image without interruption, transmitting all the expressions in real-time to those he meets. In addition to trying to focus on the interview questions, this person should also try to focus on the pictures of people on his screen, and above all, he has to deal with watching himself during the entire interview time. Of course, it can easily be imagined how this complex social scenario might not be comfortable for anyone, especially if they are naturally shy or nervous or one of our introverts.
To find out how to prepare for a job interview as the world seems to be starting to return to normal, I interviewed three professionals from the nonprofit Education For Employment (EFE), a network in several countries around the world. It has offices in several Arab countries: Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. And its goal, as its name suggests, is related to economic empowerment, by providing training (academic or vocational), ending with employment. Larissa, Ghadeer and Mohammad work in different divisions of the organization. Larissa Qat is the Global Director of Brand and Communications for Education for Employment, while Ghadeer Al-Khuffash is the CEO of EFE-Jordan's office, and Muhammad Irshaid is the Chief Training Specialist for the organization as well.
In a year marked by COVID-19 job losses, EFE supported a total of 114,741 young people to enter the world of business around the world, 61% of whom are women.
And through a meeting via "Zoom" and a number of exchanged messages, I've collected some of their tips to give you the best you can currently during job interviews during this difficult period. Points are short and edited.
Before the interview
All three emphasize that the majority of the tasks you need to consider are those related to preparing for the interview before it happens.
Planning and preparation
Plan your day in a strategic way that allows you to be as psychologically prepared as possible. Or, as Ghadeer said during the interview, "Enter the interview with a high spirit of positivity, and treat every job interview as if it were your dream job." Also, an important part of planning is preparing where you will be interviewing, and here you have to take the background issue into account. And your car is not considered a suitable place for this.
The technological factor
You have to test the camera, microphone and sound, and make sure of the “software” used and try it out. Here, it is preferable to use the laptop if available, as it will give you a clearer and better picture than the phone. Larissa says that the rest of the preparation is what applies to other interviews. “You have to take care of your appearance by being formal as if you are going to an interview. And to have a copy of your CV, whether on paper or screen. We run into some problems when we train some women for interviews, many of them don't want to open the camera, but it's very important because it's the only way to give a real impression of the person during internet calls."
You should also make sure that the Internet is working well, and give your phone number to the company in order for them to contact you in the event of technical problems. Make sure that the device you will be interviewing with is charged. Mohammed, who has also trained many young people in this regard, adds: "Try to choose the quietest room in your house and make sure to put 'mute' in case you are not talking. This note will avoid many embarrassing situations."
Communication and research
Larissa says LinkedIn is a key component of the job search process as well as interview preparation. She advises everyone to look up the name of the person they are waiting to meet. She also encourages them to add them on the platform and adds: "LinkedIn is designed for this specific purpose, and you can add a small message when you send the connection request. We have collaborated with LinkedIn in a number of courses we have conducted, and there are many opportunities for this platform." Ghadeer also stresses the importance of searching for the company and seeing its business in general, news about it, and its website, not only with regard to the job you are applying for but in general, which will give you a lot of points to talk about in the interview if you are asked to do so.
Muhammad Irshaid emphasized the importance of actual training. He usually advises the young men and women he trains to conduct full interviews before the expected interview. He says, "You can ask one of your friends or relatives to call you and ask you questions like in the interview. We used to do this with the young people we train, and all of them have improved significantly with the repetition of these exercises." It is important to be comfortable and confident while listening to the questions and answers during the interview, which is easy to master with practice, in the mirror, on the phone, or in person, or in all three ways.
During the interview
Close all other programs on your phone or computer. Make sure that you are in the quietest and most comfortable place available, be fully present about a quarter of an hour before the interview. Put a glass of water in front of you. Prepare all required technologies. Try the camera, and get used to your smiling face. And you can start the interview.
There may be a range of questions that you can prepare for. Although some of them have become outdated, questions such as "What do you aim to become in five years?" or "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" still exist, and many managers ask them in their interviews.
Here, Mohammed says, you should answer comfortably, and focus when answering. You can state that you want to develop and learn throughout your presence in the company and that you want to follow the existing job hierarchy. For example, you could answer the future question: "I want to be in the position I deserve by then," and avoid answers like, "I want to be a manager, or to be you."
On the question of weaknesses, Ghadeer says, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Some of them can be mentioned, but they should not touch the essence of the work. Like, "I'm technically late, in a job interview for a digital marketing job." You can respond with a few safe sentences, such as: "I have to take the work very seriously."
Who are you?
In questions that require self-introduction, Muhammad asks you to do so clearly and briefly, and do not talk about your personal life if you have not been asked about it. Rehearse what you are going to say more than once. And if you get nervous while you're talking, you can always hold something in your hand. Put in front of you a list of your most important achievements in the field of work, and even education if you are a beginner. You can write something that reminds you of the projects you have completed that you want to talk about if you ask.
Questions at the end of the interview
In this particular part, any research you have done about the company will save you; you can ask a general question about its business or about the job specifically, such as working hours, for example, or the sequence of career development. It is important not to ask only for the purpose of the question. Also, it is best to have an idea of the number you will say in case you are asked about the salary. And this number should not be an exaggeration, nor should it be less than what you deserve as well.
Ghadeer's last piece of advice is that you have to think about what sets you apart, which is probably not your ideal information. "Passion for the job, you have to see it for real and be human above all during the interview. For companies, a person with passion and honesty can be trained for any job, because she/he has the right work culture."
After the interview
Experts encourage sending a thank you email after the interview. And a follow-up email about a week later. Larissa says, "You don't have to seem insistent, but to seem interested is another thing and it always counts in your favor. Even if you don't get the job this time."
Finally, Ghadeer advises those looking for work during these times to be flexible. Perhaps the most suitable job for you is not the one you studied, nor the one close to home. You have to be flexible and have an open mind to knock on doors that may be new to you. Ghadeer mentions as an example, where the organization trained a group of young women from different scientific backgrounds to repair smartphones through specialized training courses: “We were surprised by the extent of success they met, as women in many areas preferred for women to repair their phones, because of their concern about their privacy. This was a new area for these young women, unexpected but it was a huge success for them."
Ghadeer stresses that there are some sectors that still demand a lot of jobs today, and one should not lose sight of those that require a professional background that can be trained. Sectors such as food, domestic tourism and the health sector, for example, still need employees.
Have hope and complete the search."