Oct 19, 2020

PPL HR manager offers 10 tips to nail a virtual job interview

Interviewing for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a series of new challenges.

Many companies are interviewing virtually, altering the way candidates can connect with interviewers.

With direct eye contact and firm handshakes out the window, how do you properly connect with hiring managers? How do you showcase your personality and talents while sitting in front of a screen in your bedroom or kitchen?

For Careers in Energy week, we caught up with PPL Corporate Talent Manager Brian Case to offer tips to job seekers on how to ace a virtual interview. Case has been featured on a number of university panels, providing these tips, and he recently conducted practice mock interviews with students mastering in management at Lehigh University.

PPL Corporate Talent Manager Brian Case

Here are some tips from Case:

1.     Conduct research on the company. Explore the company website and look for its vision, mission and values. Review company webpages for career profiles and company culture. Research what is available in the news about the company. This way, you can speak intelligently about the company during the interview. The fact that the interview is virtual does not preclude you from doing your homework.

2.      Research your interviewers. When your interview is scheduled, ask who you will be meeting with and what titles they hold. Explore online resources like LinkedIn to learn about the career paths of the interviewers. Learning about an interviewer’s background can help you figure out what it takes to make it to their position and referencing their experience will show you came prepared. This can also help you connect better in a virtual interview.

3.      Review job description and identify desired skills and competencies. Revisit the job description or posting for which you applied. Look for basic requirements, preferred requirements and desired skills or competencies. Interview questions will likely drill into further discussion on these topics. Prepare stories that show how you demonstrated the desired skills and what outcomes you achieved.

4.      Prepare your equipment. Be sure your computer, laptop, iPad or phone are ready to go. Make certain you have a reliable internet connection. Be sure your battery level is sufficient or that you are plugged in just in case the interview goes longer than anticipated.  Consider back-up plans if your primary form of communication fails – make sure you have contact info handy if something fails in the middle of the interview.

5.      Identify your background. Think strategically about your background. Are you displaying a disorganized setting behind you that could reflect your organization skills? A plain wall, or subtle screen work well.  Don’t use a virtual background that is too busy and distracting. Do a trial run before the interview to make sure the background and lighting look good and professional.

6.      Dress appropriately. When your interview is scheduled, inquire about the dress code. Always consider dressing one step above the dress code.  While work-from-home attire can tend to be extremely casual, a T-shirt or hoody just don’t make the grade for an interview – in person or virtual. As the saying goes, dress for success.

7.      Know your technology. Different companies use different interview platforms.  Whether it is Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other platforms, be familiar with the tool so the interview is not your first experience.

8.      Speak clearly. Companies are looking for excellent communication skills. Regardless of what position you will be in, you will likely need at some point to be in critical discussions – perhaps presentations, or a situation which requires you to influence.  Good communication skills are critical, so be prepared to display these skills throughout any phone conversations or interviews with the company. Virtually, you need to be sure to project and increase your energy level more than in person as the energy doesn’t come across as well in a virtual environment. Even ask the interviewer if you are coming through clearly.

9.      Prepare questions. Most interviewers will allow for questions at the end of the interview. This is your opportunity to have questions answered that may be critical to your ultimate decision if given an offer. This is also an opportunity to ask about remote working and the company’s return-to-work plans if the workforce is working remotely.

10.   Express interest, send a thank you and follow-up: End the interview by expressing a sincere interest in the position. Send an email saying thank you. Recall something from the interview that stood out to make your message personalized. And even if you don’t land the position, be courteous and say thank you and express again your interest in the company. You never know when another position may become available and it pays to maintain a positive image.

You can put these skills to test by speaking with Case and other representatives of PPL and its family of businesses at EnergyCareers 2020 – a free virtual career event hosted by the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD).

The free event takes place on October 21, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Representatives from PPL and energy companies from around the country will be on hand to speak to those seeking jobs and internships in the energy industry. They will showcase the vast array of careers in energy – highlighting job opportunities for today and career paths for tomorrow.

To Register or learn more, visit: https://getintoenergy.com/energycareers2020/