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Interviews: How To Upskill In A Lockdown

There was a classic study carried out by Dr. Albert Mehrabian in the 1960s. He claimed that only 7% of human communication was based on the spoken word. 38% of the message relied on tone of voice, while 55% was focused on body language.

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In this moment in time the question has to be – how does that translate to a COVID-19 world? When we’re seeing the people we’re communicating with through a screen. How could you possibly present your very best self to a brand-new employer in these circumstances? Well don’t worry, Pfizer has plenty of tips to help you get your message across. Loud and clear.

Be prepared. Even though it’s virtual, an interview’s an interview. It needs to be formal; you need to be professional. Remember to:

  • Familiarize yourself with the company. Our culture, mission, history.
  • Read the job description. Properly.
  • Get to know the interview panel beforehand, reviewing their job titles, length of time with the company and so on. It will get you in the right mindset.
  • Double-check your calendar invite and confirm the calendar invite has been accepted.
  • Turn on your camera. Eye contact is a great source of positive, emotional energy. It builds trust, increases engagement and demonstrates that the interview is important to you.
  • Find a quiet location for the interview, free from distractions.

Be strategic. Think about your skills and attributes in advance – understand exactly what you can bring to the company. We expect you to have questions about our company, the role, the team structure – so come prepared. Renee Bertuglia, on our Talent Acquisition team, also says this demonstrates how seriously you’re taking this potential next step in your life. “It shows that you are doing your own research to make sure everything is a good fit for you as well, which is very important.”

Be insightful. We use ‘Behavior-Based Interviewing’ at Pfizer, which is driven by the idea that past performance predicts future performance. If we know how you dealt with situations in the past, we can make some fairly strong predictions about your potential success at Pfizer. It’s all based around competencies (skills, abilities, motivations and knowledge) and detail is king. So, get ready for your response using the SBO technique:

  • Situation – What was the context of your example?
  • Behavior – What was required of you? What challenges did you face? What actions did you take? What did you learn? This forms the bulk of your answer.
  • Outcome – What was the outcome of your actions?

Be yourself. We want to get to know you. If you need time to answer a question, or you need to ask us something, that’s ok. In fact, we expect that – the best interviews are a two-way conversation. Lucille Askes, also with our Global Talent Acquisition team, finds that “Listening is just as important as answering questions. You want there to be give-and-take in the conversation, so you're building a relationship with the interviewer rather than just providing rote responses to questions.”

If you need us to repeat a question or to clarify something (particularly during these times of dubious WiFi) then go for it. It shows confidence, and an eagerness to get it right. Like when you’re giving your SBO response – check with the interviewer that you’ve answered their question.

And finally, it’s always good to ask about next steps. You’re eager, so let it show. And always follow up with a ‘Thank you’ email. Does it send a good message? 100%. See, aside from the webcam, it’s not too different from an in-person interview!

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