Face-to-face communication looks different these days. Most of the time, there’s a mask covering smiles and half of your expressions. Other times, you’re talking via video chat or phone call. Yet first impressions still remain incredibly important for job seekers, even if the way we interact has changed.
Whether on the phone or virtually, with or without a mask, try to make it feel like personal face-to-face communication. Control what you can to still come across as friendly, positive, and a perfect fit for the position.
If your interview is in person, wear a mask to be respectful of your interviewer. They might even require you to have one before coming in the building. Be prepared: Bring your mask from home. Be thoughtful in the type of mask you wear, as it can have a big impact on your ability to communicate effectively and professionally.
Wear a clear mask if you can. That way, the interviewer will be able to see your smiles and emotions. If you’re wearing a cloth mask, be cognizant of what’s on your mask. Now is not the time to make a political statement or be funny. Be professional in the pattern you wear.
Also, consider the fit of your mask. Some masks pull against your mouth when you talk or fog up your glasses. Neither makes a strong impression. Invest in a mask face bracket to keep the mask from sitting flush against your face. This will keep your speech and your glasses clear, making face-to-face communication that much easier.
Body language plays a key role in any conversation. And thankfully, it can’t be hidden behind a mask. Demonstrate you’re listening by maintaining eye contact and nodding every now and then. Keep your posture open and inviting by sitting up straight with your arms uncrossed.
Use natural hand gestures and movements to accent the points you make. Don’t overdo it though, as excessive gesturing can be distracting. Refrain from aggressive gestures like pointing or closed fists. Stick to inviting movements that evoke trust and credibility, such as keeping your palms up and open.
Avoid fidgeting, such as tapping your fingers or clicking your pen. It’ll make you appear distracted or nervous, even if that’s not what you mean to convey.
Take a cue from the interviewer. Reflect their positive actions and tones back to them to establish a connection. If they lean forward, learn forward with them. If they lower their voice, match it if you can.
The key here is subtly. You want to make your interviewer feel connected and comfortable. You don’t want to freak them out or make them feel like you’re mocking them.
Highlight your natural strengths. Use the STAR method when answering questions: Be specific when talking through situations, tasks, actions, and results. And don’t forget to prepare for the usual questions around strengths and weaknesses.
No matter the interview setup, you’ll need to make sure you’re speaking slowly and clearly. Both masks and video calls can make it hard to understand someone. Enunciate and project. Pause before and after speaking in order to give your interviewer a chance to talk.
Whether in-person or virtual, be sure to limit distractions. Put your phone on mute, and turn off the notifications on your smartwatch. A virtual interview contains more temptations to check emails or multitask. Resist the urge by planning ahead and preparing your space.
Be present in the conversation, and actively listen. Pay attention to what the interviewer is saying, and wait to respond. Don’t interrupt or try to predict the end of their sentences.
Respond accordingly. Demonstrate you’re listening by asking follow-up questions or expanding upon points they’ve made. Ultimately, you want to show the interviewer that you’re excited about the conversation and use this time to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job.