Job Interviews During a Pandemic: What We’ve Learned

JANA STONE, talent sourcer


The COVID-19 pandemic has truly — and likely, permanently — upended the way we interview for jobs. Since March 2020, HR managers, recruiters, and candidates alike have had to adapt, performing interviews over the phone, via videoconferencing, or at a safe distance (with masks on).

This has come with a host of new challenges! At the same time, we have gained some valuable insights into the hiring process in general and conducting/attending job interviews. Here are five things that pandemic interviews have taught us:

1. It’s possible to have a completely virtual hiring process.

This came as a big surprise to many hiring managers over the last year or so. Granted, many companies had already transitioned to a completely virtual hiring process pre-COVID (think “gig companies” that hire remote workers, for example). However, the coronavirus outbreak forced many organizations that had previously been tied to “traditional” hiring/onboarding methods to rethink their approach.

Several recruiters were surprised at how easy it was to switch over to digital onboarding. The bottom line? Almost everything can be done 100% virtually, including key forms like the new hire’s W-4 and I-9! With the right tools and processes in place, you do not have to fret about hardcopy documents being signed and filed away like they were in the old days.

2. Candidates may have more flexibility in customizing their hiring process.

Before COVID-19, some organizations maintained a “take it or leave it” attitude when it came to their hiring process. In other words: “If you can’t come into our office and follow our onboarding procedures, then we can’t hire you.” This was sometimes the case even when the job opening was for a remote position.

Now, things have changed a bit. Many candidates—understandably worried about what COVID-related precautions prospective employers were taking—asked a lot of questions about what the hiring process would look like. Some candidates even asked to attend a virtual interview instead of an in-person one — even if the company was not offering that accommodation at first.

Many organizations responded with increased flexibility in their hiring process. The result? You as the candidate may have more of a say in what the interview process will look like for you.

3. How skilled (or unskilled) applicants are with technology will be more evident.

Ah, the wonderful world of Zoom! Virtual interviews have turned into a frustrating experience for some job candidates, but they have also offered a significant advantage for recruiters. Interviews conducted via a video conferencing platform can serve as a “barometer” for the applicant’s technological expertise (or lack thereof). After all, if the open position requires a certain level of familiarity with software programs and other technological tools, then the recruiter will be interested in seeing how candidates navigate their interview while using such a tool.

The takeaway for candidates? If your interview is going to be conducted via Zoom or another video conferencing platform, it is wise to get some practice time in before the main event. You want to present an air of professionalism and competence during the interview. Familiarizing yourself with the platform beforehand will help you to do just that.

4. Virtual communication is different than in-person communication.

This is just the reality of the situation. In-person communication is much more nuanced than its virtual counterpart and emphasizes subtle cues, such as those from body language. On the other hand, virtual communication contains its own “etiquette” and non-verbal cues. Here are just a couple examples:

  • It is important to be constantly mindful of the “mute/unmute” button. For example, forgetting to unmute yourself is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but it can disrupt the flow of your conversation (especially if you are unsure how to unmute yourself at the beginning of the call).
  • Remember that your background and framing are key to conveying a professional appearance. A disorganized, dirty background will not win any points with a recruiter (and neither will a pet wandering through the background). Framing that is too high (the recruiter is looking up your nose) or too low (it looks like you are in a box) can also be very distracting. If your surroundings do not send the message you’d like to send in your interview, consider adding a virtual background prior to your call.

5. You can get a job without a handshake.

It’s true: a firm handshake and a confident gaze into the recruiter’s eye are actually not required to win a job. Who would have thought?

If you would like to learn more about the hiring process, or have any questions about our staffing services, contact our team at Lutz Talent today. If you are in the job market, be sure to explore our current opportunities as well. You can also find information on related topics by visiting our staffing blog.


Jana Stone




Jana Stone is a Talent Sourcer at Lutz Talent with over three years of recruiting experience. She is responsible for interviewing and placing candidates. Jana focuses on the accounting, finance, office administration, and human resources sectors.

  • Recruiting
  • Candidate Experience
  • Relationship Management
  • BS in Communications and Biblical Studies, Grace University, Omaha, NE


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