When I’m coaching a client for an in-person job interview, I strongly encourage the candidate to ask, “May I have a tour of the office (or work site)?” It’s a gutsy question that enables the candidate to assess the work place and employees during the decision-making stage. It also gives the candidate a little extra face time with the interviewer to make a great impression. Trust me, most candidates are too intimidated to ask for this. You’ll stand out.
Because of COVID-19, we all know that in-person interviews aren’t happening as much and remote work is booming. It’s projected that many jobs are going to stay remote – something that was impossible to predict not that long ago. Because of this, it seems that employers have flipped the script! I’m hearing from job seekers and other coaches that employers are asking, during online interviews, to see the candidate’s home office. This means the employer expects, without warning, the candidate to turn their laptop around and literally give their potential employer a digital tour.
Everyone I’ve talked to about this thinks it’s a horrible, invasive practice. But is it really? I have a few thoughts on this subject.
First, most every new thing in employment is labeled awful, until it’s no longer new or awful. Here are few examples: I can’t tell you how many people I personally interacted with over the years who rejected LinkedIn until they simply couldn’t anymore. They came to realize, through their peers, that it was an incredibly useful tool for job seekers and eschewing it meant lost opportunities. On the employer side, there was a time that employers would have laughed at the notion of offering benefits beyond health insurance and a 401k. Today, employers pay for services such as on-site daycare, gyms, chefs; pet insurance; ID theft security services; genetic testing; fertility treatments; concert/event tickets and more. Why the change? It’s proven that ‘vanity perks’ such as these will attract and retain talented employees. To an extent, employers have accepted and adjusted (albeit some more than others). Anything can be normalized if it happens enough, which is why I believe home office tours will become the norm during online interviews.
Second, during work hours, whose office is it? Is it yours, or your employers? In reality, it’s a hybrid of both. And in that case, doesn’t the employer have a right to ensure an appropriate environment for the work that’s to be done there? Of course I don’t think they should have a say in your decorating taste but making sure the area is organized and productive is, to me, not crossing a line. (For the record, when I’m interviewing a potential employee for ResuMAYDAY, I ask about their home office. I’ve never requested to see it via web cam, and I can’t imagine I’d feel the need to do so.)
The main reason I chose to explore this topic isn’t to deem it right or wrong. It’s merely to put the word out there. Candidates would be smart to prepare for this type of inspection. Before your next Zoom interview, tidy up your work area. Organize it and add a few touches that show a little personality. Create an area that you’re proud to show off!
During the pandemic, I found a twitter page that has become one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Room Rater, or @RateMySkypeRoom. Only look this up if you have time to spare! The owners of the site scour the web for interviews with politicians, celebrities and other VIPs and then rate their room (as much as can be seen during the interview) on a scale from 1 to 10. And the politicians, celebrities and VIPs respond! Many of them, after getting a poor score (primarily for a lackluster background) will add a few touches and then respond as to when their next interview will be, so they can be re-rated. Those who are rated takes it for what it is – a lot of fun and a much-needed diversion in an unusually tough time. But there’s a good lesson here. Our new normal means that a lot of people will get a peek into our homes in a way that never happened before 2020. Take time to create a productive space that leaves a positive impression. It could mean all the difference in your job search. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2021!
To improve YOUR interview skills, contact us today at ResuMAYDAY.