Cheat Sheet for Surviving and Thriving in the New Interview Environment

Since the pandemic struck in March, construction teams have had to pivot from in-person project interviews for new work to the virtual environment. As this is new to everyone, I developed the cheat sheet for my Texas teams at Rosendin to help in our preparation to get in the correct head space for the new virtual environment. It is intended to provide comic relief but serve as reminders to everyone involved what to do and what not to do. Hope these tricks help your teams succeed in the new normal for project interviewing.

  1. Appearance
    1. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Floss. [Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you don’t want to look and smell “so fresh and so clean clean” (credit to OutKast). While we can’t smell you…we can still see you! And we can see if you have food in your teeth. ]
    2. Comb your hair. If you don’t have hair, make sure you freshly shave your head. [Shows that we care about our appearance and want to make the right impression. Clearly remove any Band-Aids used when shaving head if accidents occur]
    3. No hats. [Could cause shadows. Eye contact is the best way to connect with someone (even on video). Make sure your eyes are nice and visible. If you have contacts, consider wearing them to reduce glare on the camera from your glasses.]
    4. Trim all facial hair. [Care for appearance translates to care for the work. No one wants to give their important construction business to the Duck Dynasty® gang].
    5. Wear a collared shirt, ideally, a company branded shirt.
    6. Wear pants! Just because you are sitting when you start the interview, doesn’t mean you won’t have to get up at some point. [It’s important to be dressed for the unexpected!]
  1. Environment
    1. Make sure your backdrop is nice and neat. [No kids’ stuff. No man cave paraphernalia. No hunting trophies. No pet stuff. If you have a Rosendin Core Values Poster, put it up. If you need to, get some generic framed art from Ikea. Nothing more distracting than a poster falling behind you.]
    2. Lock the door to the room you will be presenting in. [No need for loud noises or people/animals to come into the screen shot. If your kids have a tendency to bang on the door while you work, consider going into the office to interview.]
    3. Check your internet service. Test out your camera multiple times.
    4. Create a pleasing environment where the temperature is comfortable. [No one wants to see you sweating during the interview; they may think the project scares you! ]
  1. Advance Activity
    1. Practice. Practice. Practice. [Before you ever start your camera for a meeting, open up the camera app on your computer and take a long look at yourself, your background and how you appear to the people on the other end. Move anything that could be distracting, shift your camera lens, see if anything appears to be sticking out of your head – if so move it. I.e. that basketball trophy case on the table behind you could be very distracting if it appears that you are balancing the ball on your head.]
    2. This weekend really focus on tailoring the message and being succinct. We have a tight window to present and must get our content presented without seeming completely rehearsed. Bullet points in front of you help.
  1. Presentation
    1. Keep it on mute. Unless you are talking!! Silence all cell phones.
    2. Sit at the edge of your seat. [Don’t lean back as you may start to slouch. Slouching and poor posture may indicate lack of interest. You can be uncomfortable for 90 minutes, right?]
    3. Look at your camera throughout to show that you are paying attention. Eye contact matters especially when virtual. [Doesn’t matter if they are not looking at you, someone else may be! Bluejeans has the same ability to see who is on the meeting similar to WebEx, just on the bottom instead of the top of the screen.]
    4. Check your connectively. Make sure your device is plugged in.
    5. Be mindful that you’re on camera. [No picking your nose. No covering your mouth, unless to cough - have hand sanitizer nearby. No playing with your facial hair. No touching your chin. All of this is distracting.]
    6. Be mindful of distractions or facial expressions. [Best not to show the audience that we’re going off the rails if someone says something incorrectly; interject and repair quickly the misstatement. Try not to show that you are texting if you need to communicate with others on the team.]
    7. Smile. [Let your personality shine. Confidence is important.]
    8. Be professional.

About the Author: Jolsna John Thomas is Rosendin Electric’s Business Development Manager for Texas representing Rosendin’s offices in Grapevine (DFW), Pflugerville (Austin), San Antonio, College Station, and Corpus Christi. She develops and maintains relationships for Rosendin with customers in all five of its Texas offices and leads its marketing efforts statewide. She is in her fourteenth year in the construction industry and looking forward to continuing to push the industry in the direction of expanding more opportunities for women.

Rosendin Holdings appointed Jolsna and the Board elected her as President of The Rosendin Foundation, a non-profit corporation. She also sits on Rosendin’s Diversity and Inclusion Council which advises the Executive Committee. The City of Austin appointed Jolsna to three commissions: Mayor’s Appointee to the Construction Advisory Committee, the Chair of the Firefighters, Police, and Emergency Medical Services Personnel Civil Service Commission, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Austin Convention Enterprises Board, a quasigovernmental board. She serves as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Austin Chapter’s Co-Chair Camp NAWIC, a free week-long summer camp for middle school girls to learn about the construction industry through hands-on activities. Jolsna is a director and the immediate past chair for the South Asian Bar Association of Austin and continues to guide the national organization by serving on its National Advisory Council and as a Champion of its charitable arm. She is a Sustaining Member of the Junior League of Austin. In her spare time, she enjoys entertaining and travel which have both been curtailed due to the pandemic.

Jolsna obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin and her Juris Doctorate from American University Washington College of Law.

Jolsna Thomas, Esq., Business Development Manager, Rosendin
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