Virtual marketing interviews: Tips for candidates and hiring managers
Whether you are marketer looking for a new role or manager hiring for one, going through an interview in this new virtual world may be unfamiliar to you.
Let's start by reining in the use of the word "interview." We can likely all agree that the word alone invokes sweaty palms and sleepless nights. Instead, we are going to call it a "conversation" because, realistically, it is not a one-way street. If you are the applicant, you are assessing the company just as much as they are evaluating you; the decision about whether you work there is not theirs alone.
Be it virtual or otherwise, the best way to make it through a conversation with the least amount of anxiety possible is to ensure that you are well prepared. Before the meeting, be thorough in educating yourself about the company, make sure you understand the role you are applying for, and directly tie your past experiences to the skill sets outlined in the job description. Also, have a few questions at the ready – not too many, but one or two for sure. That will make you look engaged and show that you have spent time thinking about the organization and the position.
Lastly, make sure to look professional. Turn off all your devices, sit up straight, make direct eye contact, breathe, and be your shining self. You've got this!
If you are the hiring manager, it's vital that you also put your best foot forward. Don’t be the marketer that forgot about company brand or the importance of first impressions – every interaction, including virtual conversations, is building an impression with potential future colleagues.
As an ambassador of your organization, evaluating candidates both well and fairly can lead you to hire the talent you need and create a great advocate for your brand.
Whether it's a screening call, telephone conversation or virtual meeting, set the stage right away. Start a conversation with a quick overview of how you will spend your time together. In a virtual setting, non-verbal cues are harder to recognize (not to mention that wi-fi might cause delays) and knowing who will speak when is crucial for a smooth experience. If you have two people involved in the discussion, let the candidate know who will be asking questions when and when it is ok for the candidate to ask their questions.
We know maintaining focus and eye contact is essential to your brand as a hiring manager; however, be mindful of dual screens. You might think it's a good idea to use your second screen to pull up the candidate's resume or LinkedIn profile, and it is. But it can also be uncomfortable to the other person when it appears like you are not looking at the camera. Unless you tell the candidate you have their resume up on another screen, they may think you are not paying attention.
Be prepared to address the return to work and physical office questions. We might be virtual now and it’s likely that many marketing jobs can continue to be done remotely, but we know there will continuous changes to how and where organizations operate. It’s important to consider candidate questions around expectations and flexibility when it comes to in-office work.
And finally, be thoughtful and human. Working from home is hard. Many of us have more than just work going on in our shared spaces. To make sure that all candidates have the same opportunity to showcase their skills and experiences, be considerate when scheduling conversations. Don't send the candidate three window choices that are all 9 a.m. for three days. Ask the candidates what schedule limitations they might have first, and do your best to work around those.
Virtual hiring doesn't even feel like a "new" normal anymore -- can you even remember doing it any other way? After a year of staying physically away from each other, recruiting remotely is not going away anytime soon, especially in the marketing world. As a result, it’s important for candidates and hiring managers to put their best (virtual) foot forward when it comes to making a great first impression on screen.
Authors: Darya Jarmola, HR Director at MiQ and Deb Boudreau, Owner at Media Staffing Inc.
Darya Jarmola and Deb Boudreau are members of the CMA Talent Council.