Contact 2: Companies go virtual to interview prospective hires

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ST. LOUIS – Video chat software existed long before COVID-19 but the pandemic made it popular. From the boardroom to the classroom—and hilariously, the courtroom—we’re still adjusting to living life through a lens.

Kari Kempa lost her job in May. A casualty of COVID cuts, she said finding work in a pandemic was daunting.

“My mental health was starting to go way down,” Kempa said.

A few months later, she had a lead on a new job. But that came with an unnerving new experience – a virtual interview. Kempa said she questioned how she’d present herself in this new experience.

Jamie Johnson, a career advisor for University of Phoenix, said virtual job interviews are growing in popularity as companies navigate pandemic protocols.

“First thing I always tell everybody: check your technology. Practice with someone,” Johnson said.

Johnson recommends a solid internet connection for the best audio and video quality, good lighting, and a quiet location.

“We don’t obviously have the handshaking experience, that we get to connect, but we have the handshake of our warmth, our presence. How we carry ourselves,” Johnson said. “Check your body language. We forget how we come across. It’s easy to start slumping.”

Here’s another tip for that virtual interview. Your natural tendency is to look at your screen, where you see the person you’re talking to. Resist that urge and focus on looking directly into your camera. It’s the closest thing to in person eye-to-eye contact.

Kari Kempa got the job. She’s now a unit secretary at Barnes Jewish Hospital.

“I was crying. I felt so good about myself. I’m like, things are looking up. This is my dream job right now. I’m working with amazing people,” she said.

Kempa’s advice for those looking for work?

“I applied for so many jobs! One of them is going to come. They’re going to contact you and interview you,” she said.

And if it’s your first virtual job interview, now you know how to prepare.

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