Posted On: March 24, 2020
Social distancing, restrictions on public gatherings and orders to self-quarantine have quickly become our new normal in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to email, online-meeting platforms and collaborative cloud-storage applications, many employees are able to perform their job duties from home, even as their favorite coffee shops, restaurants and gyms are forced to close for the time being.
But what about those who were already on the hunt for their next employment opportunity before this national health crisis took hold? And what about the growing number of Americans who are being laid off as a direct result of the pandemic? Is it possible, or even worthwhile, to begin or resume a job search given the current economic climate?
The truth is companies are still hiring despite the present challenges, so do not become discouraged as a jobseeker. Do make an effort, however, to become more flexible, resourceful and detail-oriented.
In many ways, your job search will remain the same. Online applications still must be filled out thoroughly. Accommodations you might need in order to perform your job duties optimally should still be considered. Research and preparation for the interview remains vitally important, although, given the current need for social distancing, your interview will likely be virtual.
Video conferencing and online meetings might be new to some, so here are a few tips to ace the virtual interview and make a very real impression.
This first bit of advice holds true for all job seekers, regardless of disability. Unlike the traditional, in-person interview, the video conference provides the interviewer a glimpse into your private life. While there’s no need for your entire living space to be pristine, it is important to establish a quiet, clutter-free zone within your home, a designated room or work station from which you can conduct important business with minimal interruption.
Certain distractions – a barking dog or a knock at the door – are inevitable and beyond our control, so your prospective employer should be understanding. There are sure to be minor hiccups along the way, but just remember that this transition to a virtual workplace is a process we’re all navigating together.
Your prospective employer will likely use a platform such as Zoom or Skype to conduct your interview remotely. Don’t assume your assistive technology will work seamlessly with these apps on the first try, particularly if you’re using screen-reading software like JAWS or Voiceover. Also, if you are visually impaired or simply unaccustomed to video conferencing, you may be unsure of the best way to position the camera built into your phone or laptop.
If possible, do a test call with a friend or family member, checking to see how easy the app is to use, determining its level of compatibility with your assistive technology and finding the camera angles that are most flattering.
In some cases, the prospect of a video interview may force you to disclose your disability or discuss accommodations sooner than you would like. For instance, if you use Dragon or any other type of voice recognition software for computing, you’ll want to convey this beforehand so the HR professional conducting the interview doesn’t think you’re talking to yourself.
If early disclosure isn’t your typical strategy, then it might feel as though you’re entering the interview with a strike already against you. Don’t fall into this trap. Think of it as a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness of your assistive technology, an opportunity to show how your disability has sparked within you the type of resourcefulness and creative problem solving their company is looking for.
Although video conferencing introduces some new variables to consider, by factoring these suggestions into your preparation you can still set yourself up for a winning interview.