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Aaaah, the virtual interview. In the past? An honor held for cross-country hires and early round interviews. Currently? The norm.

Job seekers are brushing up on their onscreen conversational skills and perfecting their Zoom smiles, but hiring managers should also prepare to utilize this potentially unfamiliar format. For employers, it can be difficult to recalibrate your in-person evaluation skills for a socially distant format, sans handshakes and body language.

Virtual Interview Tips for Attracting and Identifying Top Candidates

With increased efforts to keep workplaces safe and healthy, it doesn't look like in-person interviews will be returning anytime soon. Polish up your interrogat– erm, interview skills, and prepare to shift your thinking a bit to adjust to this increasingly common platform.

Your Appearance Matters Too

The focus is usually on candidates professional appearance and chosen background, but don't forget: you're trying to sell them on your company at the same time! Without the ability to walk around and see your workplace, there's an incentive to differentiate yourself from the handful of other white-walled interviews your favorite candidate may have lined up. Choose a location with decent lighting and don't be afraid to stray from a blank wall.

Test Your Tech

Make sure your platform is working properly and camera and video quality is decent. Even if you've used them recently, be sure all connections are solid as unexpected problems can arise without notice. Also, have the candidate's contact information handy in case of a delay or a break in your meeting.

Lighten the Mood

Many people find a video chat to be more awkward than an in-person meeting. Staring at a screen isn't always the easiest way to warm up to someone, so do you both a favor and try to get your interviewee to loosen up a bit. Whether it's asking about their weekend or talking about your own day a little bit, some small talk will get things on a more comfortable path.

Convey Your Company Culture

Without an in-office visit, a candidate has no way of knowing what it's like to work with you, or who they'll be working with. A great way to convey this via vide chat is to either have a member of your team jump on the call or arrange a separate one. You can also make a point to describe how a typical workday goes, what your team is like, or if you're in your office (socially-distanced, of course) and on a laptop, take them on a tour.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Limiting your view of a candidate to a screen can help highlight revealing mannerisms. If the candidate isn't maintaining eye contact or is shifting in their seat, they may be nervous. Good posture indicates self confidence and leaning into the camera means they are engaged in the conversation. Body language will inform your overall impression of a candidate, so be alert.

The virtual interview will likely be an important skill for your toolbox in the future. Make sure your company stays ahead of the game and masters the skills needed to identify and attract top candidates with these tips for a great virtual interview.

Posted: 10/28/2020 1:12:35 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


The last six months have been a roller coaster, full of changing rules, fluctuating attitudes, and a desire to “get back to work,” adjacent to a need for maintaining distance and safety.

In the U.S., the only entity as heavily affected by this pandemic as the American business is the American household. Changing work habits and an uncertain economy aside, thousands of employed parents are also adjusting to their children's new school platforms: virtual learning and "blended" school days. Their daily lives have changed drastically, and any acknowledgement and accommodation from management will go a long way.

Working with Parents of Children Who Are Learning Virtually

Be flexible

Offer parents the ability to accommodate changing family schedules, allowing them to shift work hours if needed. Doing so eases some stress and also cements your reputation as a supportive and understanding employer. What does lower stress translate to? Higher productivity! So, it's a win-win.

Set communication expectations

Be clear about how much contact and communication you need from employees who are managing workloads alongside their family's virtual learning. Determine if management needs to be notified when employees are attending to their children during work hours, and if a schedule needs to be set ahead of time or not.

Remove the excess

Skim the fat from their workload and remove any unnecessary meetings – paring down to just the essentials ensures their work hours are spent efficiently.

Be clear from the start

No employee should have to guess what is or is not acceptable within this "new normal" of balancing children's virtual learning schedules and their own work schedules. Be clear on your expectations as early as possible. Let your entire team know you are understanding of small interruptions in meetings, or that you are willing to be flexible on specific hours worked. If meetings become a challenge to attend, suggest a buddy system, so your team can check in with coworkers to report on the items discussed in a missed meeting.

It's also important for non-parents on your team to understand that a less-than-ideal situation can be made better with some compassion and understanding. No one will be expected to work more or less, but you're all in this together.

The working parents that are a part of your organization are facing extreme struggles, juggling working from home, keeping themselves and their families healthy, all while ensuring their children's education continues even when schools range from completely closed to merely partially open. Daily routines are all out of whack, continuing to provide constant sources of stress to an already hectic time. Doing your best as an employer to accommodate the challenges this year has brought to everyone, especially working parents, will result in a strong and satisfied team. 

Posted: 10/2/2020 1:10:58 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


2020 has been a year of weird ups, and even weirder downs. Businesses have adapted to the roller coaster of economic activity, changing their systems and adjusting their staff, leaving many of us in a weird state of limbo. Furloughs, layoffs, working from home, and home schooling mean we could emerge on the other side of this pandemic with an entirely new set of personal and professional needs.

Without a clear path to success in the future, and without the security to drop a handful of money on professional development, what are we to do?

 
online-learning-coputer-screen
 
Enter: inexpensive/free online learning. You can shape your skills with a flexible schedule while we're living in this time of transition. Use online courses to invigorate your skillset, OR just to incorporate some stability and learning into your everyday chaos. If you're looking for something new at the end of this, dip your toe into a different subject and see if it piques your interest. Or take it more seriously and come out with a certificate. There are a TON of options – we're just here to direct you to the right one.
 

EdX

Legitimate institutions (Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Georgetown, and 140 more) offer almost 3000 courses in a wide range of subjects, with an even wider range of costs. Free courses sit alongside MicroMasters programs (a fraction of the time and cost of a full Masters Program), and full Masters programs.
 
Some of its most popular courses: Intro to Computer Science, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel
 

Codecademy

As you might guess from its name, Codecademy is chock full of courses on.. drumroll please.. coding! Web design, game development, data science – you name it, they have courses on it. A free model or a monthly plan, you'll be able to dabble in different programming languages while
 

Skillshare

The platform for the creative soul, a Skillshare visit gets you access to thousands of free classes, with even more if you decide on an annual membership. Classes from industry professionals run rampant on Skillshare, and students love the ability to work at your own pace while also contributing to class discussions and critique.
 

LinkedIn Learning

Over 16,000 free and paid courses run the gamut from professional development to program-specific. A perk of LinkedIn Learning is that suggestions are tailored for your resume, so if you've listed certain skills in your profile, it will steer you toward courses to develop those in particular, or even other skills common among your coworkers.
 

Google Analytics Academy

While it's specifically geared toward Google Analytics, these classes take you deep into its capabilities. Experience with tracking business performance over time and understanding data collection and analysis is applicable to any job, so it's a worthy investment (of time, no money needed!).
 

Udemy

With courses as low as $9.99, it's easy to find something that works for your needs. You'll see courses on Adobe programs from novice to expert, a large collection of design classes, as well as courses in business areas like marketing and finance/accounting. Downloadable resources and certificates of completion mean you have something to show for it.

 
 
These 6 sites are excellent places to begin expanding and developing your professional skills. Make this transitional time a period of growth with classes and courses that fit into your life and won't cost much. Consider it an opportunity to try something out and see if it might be an area of interest. Or, work on growing your talent in a program or subcategory in which you're already proficient. Your career will benefit greatly!

Posted: 8/21/2020 3:26:50 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


We saw a phrase the other day: “You are not working from home. You are at home during a pandemic, trying to work.”

Our homes became more than just shelter during the pandemic these last few months, with many of us occupying them as parents, teachers, employees, and childcare providers.

a girl plays outside while her parents work from home during the pandemic

Trying to work from home is a feat of its own, but piling on the responsibility of children too? You’re taking on a big challenge.

We pulled together some ideas to make your work day just a little bit easier. Take these tips, see what sticks, and get ready for a productive day!

Alternate with a family member

Having kids at home means constant responsibility. If you’re able to tag team with your partner, an older child (for a short time), or a parent, do it. Come up with a plan or acknowledge a pass-off of child responsibilities throughout the day (hand signal? bat signal?), so you're free and clear of kid-watch when it's not your turn. 

Be the early bird

Set your alarm for earlier than usual and use that time to complete work tasks that require undivided attention. Save checking email for later in the morning - this time is best spent on an actual project. Even a half hour will start your day with progress and put some gas in your productivity tank.

Decide if a schedule will work for you

Not everyone is a planner, but with several schedules to manage, it might lighten the load to set up a few concrete plans each day. Lunch, outside time, and reading time are some To Dos that could happen regularly. Having a schedule might also keep your kid’s antsiness at bay.

Give the kids some attention

As early in the day as you can, give your kids some You Time. They won’t need much, but competing with your workload throughout the day means a little quality time early on can put some fuel in their gas tank. The longer you wait, the needier they’ll be.

Pack lunches

Channel your inner school kid and prepare food ahead of time. Have lunches made (for the kids AND you), and even set up easy snacks, before the workday begins. Preempt the “there’s nothing to eat” argument by creating snack bags, ready to grab and eat.

Phone a friend

Many of us aren’t splitting our childcare with a live-in partner, so all responsibilities fall on our shoulders. It can get exhausting to carry the load without a break, so why not recruit the help of your support network – call up a friend or relative. Have grandma supervise puzzle doing via FaceTime, or ask a friend to play a quiz game with your kids for 20 min while you take a call.

In a global pandemic, we’re all on the same team. Working from home looks a little different for each person, but understanding better ways to manage your time and responsibilities is crucial to getting anything done.

Posted: 7/23/2020 4:15:40 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


In the last few weeks, the coronavirus has a new competitor for Most Alarming Statistic: the unemployment rate. But in spite of the 30 million Americans that have lost their jobs in the past 6 weeks, companies are still hiring. With social distancing measures still in place, your interview process might look a little different than usual. Virtual interviews have replaced in-person meetings, as companies with a hiring need don't have time to waste. Are you someone who benefits from a face-to-face? Don't let this new format scare you – with our suggestions, you'll easily become the top candidate.

man sitting at home ready for a virtual interview

Get dressed.

It should go without saying, but weeks of pajama pants may have infected your brain: wear what you would wear to a real interview. This includes pants. If something were to happen that would cause you to stand up, you don't want to be seen in those saggy house pants.

Check your tech.

Beforehand, give your video chat software a test with someone else. Make sure your microphone is working and the volume is acceptable on your end. While some tech tweaking is expected during a video meeting, being able to continue without it makes the process smoother. Also, triple check that your location will receive a solid wifi signal throughout the call.

Choose your background wisely.

No, we don't mean a virtual background in Zoom. Select a wall with a simple background - some small framed artwork or plants are a decent backdrop. Avoid windows that will add backlighting, and try not to use a lamp as your only light source. Sitting near a window can provide some nice natural lighting and will keep you looking fresh for the call.

Prepare your computer for screensharing.

Clean off your desktop and choose a good background. If you'll be pulling up a browser at any point, make sure you don't have any other tabs open or any bookmark bar items with questionable names. Have your portfolio website or PDF ready to go so you aren't fumbling to find it when the time comes.

Feed your pet and take out your dog.

It's safe to say that most people are very understanding that this is an adjustment period for those of us who weren't frequent virtual meeting attendees, but the last thing you want is a whiny pet at your door. Take care of your pets a little more than usual before heading into the interview (don't forget to block the view of that pesky mailman!) and you won't have to worry about a keyboard-stomping cat or a barking-in-the-background dog.

Keep notes open.

Have some key points you'd like to get across during this interview? Take advantage of the format and have a small cheat sheet of notes you keep on your screen while meeting. Remove whenever you screen share, and maybe keep the window small if you wear glasses and a reflection is visible.

Try to make eye contact.

In person, it's easy to connect with someone you meet by making eye contact, but in a virtual situation, it's not as simple. Try moving the window with your interviewer's image close to your camera – this better mimics real-life eye contact, as you'll be speaking almost directly to the camera.

Don't interrupt.

On some platforms, speaking can mute the other's microphone. Allowing slightly longer pauses so your interviewer can finish speaking will keep the conversation flow natural, even if it feels unnatural. Also, while a normal interview would contain many instances of you affirming their statements with "mm-hmm"s or "yeah"s, doing so in a virtual circumstance can interrupt their sentence by overriding their microphone. Instead, try nodding when you would normally interject with a quick "yes."

Roll with the changes.

If something goes wrong, acknowledge it and move along. Dog barges in? Say "hey buddy," lead him out, and come back in and apologize. Connection poor? Suggest switching to a phone call. People are just human, so mistakes aren't the end of the world. Just be sure to be flexible and laugh them off instead of letting them ruin your mood (and your chances of being hired).

Let these tips guide your virtual interview, and you should make it to the next stage in no time!

Posted: 5/13/2020 1:53:10 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments