Online or face-to-face – it’s the same challenge ultimately
Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

Q: I have an unusual situation unfolding at the moment. I am going for a job in a semi-state organisation, and the first interview took place online via Zoom. I have now been called to the second interview. However, they have decided to hold this one face to face in their offices in late June.

This really doesn’t suit me as I am immunocompromised. And I’m not in any position to go on what Teresa Mannion might call unnecessary journeys at the moment. Should I try to get them to make this a Zoom interview? (AR, email).

A: I received this question almost three weeks ago – when Ireland’s recovery plan wasn’t as accelerated as it is now – and it struck me then as an unusual approach by the organisation. And, despite the speeding up of the phases announced in the last couple of weeks, it still strikes me as unusual, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Forcing people to go into rooms at this time is a perilous undertaking. The advice is still to ‘work from home’ where possible. And given that they conquered the online interview for the first part, I would have thought they should be in a position to offer that facility to candidates for the second interview as well – but I am not privy to all the details, I hasten to add.

The fact that you are immunocompromised is a scenario they should take into account. Have you raised this with them? Of course, you may not wish to share any of your health details with them at this stage.

State your case

I think you should still try to get a Zoom interview – explain that you just can’t travel on that day for personal reasons and ask if they could do it by Zoom. These are trying times for people on all sorts of fronts and it is entirely feasible that personal reasons could militate against you being in that room on that day.

They really should take that into account.

When they assemble the interview panel, it should be an easy enough hop, skip and jump to accommodate Zoom on the day. I would be very surprised if they didn’t play ball. They could leave themselves open to difficult questions if they force someone to travel when – as the first interview – it is not totally necessary to be present, body and bones, for an interview.

Build rapport

If you do end up doing an online interview, remember that you’ve got to work hard to build rapport.

There isn’t the same tactile feel to an online interview. Push yourself to bridge the virtual gap – tune in to the interview from the outset, be warm and engaged and let them feel a strong sense of enthusiasm and professionalism. Make them see you are very serious about this interview and role.

Finally, a second interview is not the time to just rehash what you said in the first one. You should have fresh ideas, and approaches based on what you learned from the first encounter.

You’re now more knowledgeable about the organisation and that should be reflected in the second interview. Whatever happens, don’t allow all of this to distract you – it’s still a simple equation: they are looking for someone to do a job. Show them why you are that person.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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