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

With direct eye contact and firm handshakes out the window, how do you properly connect with hiring managers in a virtual setting? How do you showcase your personality and talents while sitting in front of a screen in your bedroom or kitchen? 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. A PPL HR manager shares his advice on how to manage a virtual job interview.

The Lehigh Center for Career & Professional Development caught up with PPL Corporate Talent Manager Brian Case, who offered 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 in the Masters in management program at Lehigh University.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 hoodie just don’t make the grade for an interview – in person or virtual. As the saying goes, dress for success.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Learn more about PPL

PPL Electric Utilities is an energy and utility company headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where we provide exceptional value and high quality customer service to 1.4 million customers in 29 counties across central and eastern Pennsylvania. The company is focused on delivering a positive experience for its customers by providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service. PPL Corporation delivers energy to approximately 10 million customers in the United States and United Kingdom. Explore positions with PPL on Handshake.

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