How to prepare for post-COVID face-to-face interviews

With many office jobs in Quezon City and the rest of Metro Manila resuming in-person work, job seekers must also prepare for changes in the way interviews are held. Some employers may prefer to have face-to-face meetings, especially if the role requires onsite reporting. If you are currently job-hunting, you should know what to do if asked to do an in-person interview and it’s best to be ready so you can approach it with confidence.

Prepare for the interview as normal

Practice answering interview questions and do your research on the company and job position beforehand. You should also be prepared to ask questions, such as how the pandemic has affected their company and what their COVID-19 protocols are. Asking such questions shows empathy and awareness as well as a willingness to comply in promoting health and safety in the organization.

Look presentable

While it’s important to look neat and wear a formal top even in online interviews, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your appearance when you do face-to-face interviews. Meeting in person means that your entire ensemble has to be carefully considered, and not just what would be visible on camera. While you don’t necessarily have to buy new clothes, check that your outfit fits you well and is in good condition. It may also be a good idea to get a haircut so that your appearance is neat and leaves a good impression on your interviewers.

Follow safety protocols

Follow all the necessary safety protocols, such as standing one meter away from your interviewer or other people. You should also keep your mask on and only take it off when asked by the interviewer to do so, which they might do to confirm your identity or for photo purposes.

Aside from general safety protocols, check the office building for signs of their safety measures. There might be stickers on the floor to show how far apart you should be standing from someone else, and seats that you shouldn’t occupy might be covered. Be aware of your surroundings and of how others behave so you can keep yourself, your interviewer, and other employees safe.

Take your cues from the interviewer

Most likely, your interviewer will give you cues on where to stand, sit, and if they would like to shake hands. They may even tell you to sanitize your hands before the interview. It’s best to let your interviewer take a lead in how COVID safety measures are followed since they are most familiar with the policies set by the company.

However, it’s perfectly reasonable to decline close contact when considering its risks to your health. If you’re uncomfortable with handshakes, let your interviewer know as politely as you can. You should also follow it up with being grateful for the opportunity to meet with them. For example, you can say “I’m sorry, but I don’t shake hands to be careful. However, I’m grateful to be meeting with you.”

If you don’t mind shaking hands, avoid touching your face after doing so. You should also wait until after your interview to wash or sanitize your hands as you don’t want to appear rude. Excuse yourself to use the restroom and take care of your hand hygiene then.

Smile with your eyes and speak with your body

Your smile usually conveys your enthusiasm and positive attitude in interviews, which positively affects the way interviewers perceive you. However, it can be difficult to make the same impression when your face is obstructed by a mask. To accommodate this, you should practice smiling with your eyes. Look in a mirror with a mask on and think of something that will make you smile or bring you joy. If your eye smile isn’t too evident, you might want to try exaggerating it a little.

Aside from smiling with your eyes, you can also emphasize the way you speak with your hand gestures. Nodding your head will also show agreement and acknowledgement of what’s being said by your interviewer better than saying yes aloud.

Increase the volume of your voice

Aside from face masks, plastic barriers and physical distance can make it hard for interviewers to hear you. Increasing the volume of your voice will help you solve this problem. However, avoid shouting, as this can seem rude and disruptive. You can practice speaking louder at home by wearing a mask and asking a family member to pretend to be your interviewer. In this way, you can also practice answering questions and remember your answers better.

You can also try to record yourself speaking with your phone and see how well your microphone picks up the sound of your voice. This method will allow you to hear yourself and your tone so you can change or modulate your voice better.

Going for a face-to-face job interview requires a bit more preparation than online interviews. Apart from following extra precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of everyone involved, you also have to make some adjustments to make sure that you are communicating well even with a mask on. Preparing for these measures shows that you are willing to make the effort and can improve the impression you make on your interviewers.

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