The first time I ever used Google Hangout was for a first round admissions job interview. It was spring of my last semester of grad school and I was deep into a very regional job search. A few supervisors and colleagues recommended that I test Google Hangout out beforehand. Practice. My friend offered to call me the night before so we could try it out. Nah, I thought. How hard could it be? I’m a millennial and tech savvy so I could figure it out on the fly, I was sure.
As I set up for my interview a few minutes early in a spare office within the Office of Student Activities, I went through my job interview mental checklist: Dressed Nicely? Check. Hair pulled back? Check. List of questions ready? Check. Smile. Ready. I wasn’t nervous. Just a conversation, me interviewing them as much as they are me, I reminded myself.
I asked my supervisor (whose office shared a wall with the empty office I’d be using) to please refrain from jammin’ out to her tunes or laughing at any of my answers during my interview. (The walls were thin). She wished me luck and I closed the door to the spare office.
I stared at the screen waiting for something to happen that would tell me they were calling. Maybe I should have tried this out before, I thought. The call came in and I had no idea how to answer it. I clicked on a green icon that you would think would make something do something – nothing happened. I started sweating and realized that I was foolish not to practice beforehand. My cool, calm, collected confidence was now not looking like such a good idea.
The “1 missed call” box popped up on my screen. Great. I missed it. It was okay, though. I could not figure out how to answer their call but I was able to call them back. Success. We were connected. There were six people sitting in a stadium style auditorium and I could see everyone. It was some sort of admissions presentation room that they were all in and I clearly was up on some sort of “big screen” in the front. Each person introduced themselves and the lead on the search committee told me they were having a hard time hearing me. She asked me if I had any headphones. Yeah, I thought. In my backpack, in my office. I’ll have to get up and leave. Is that weird? “Sure! Be right back!” I responded. I got up and abandoned my post in front of the computer and ran out to get headphones. Good thing I dressed nice on top as well as on bottom.
My loving and supportive officemates exclaimed about how fast that was, while I breathlessly explained that the interview was just beginning and I needed headphones.
Okay. I settled back in, smiling, put in my headphones and we were ready to go.
First question: “Are you in a closet”? Shoot. I did not think to check my surroundings. The empty office I was in was indeed being used as a closet. Being that I worked in the Office of Student Activities, this office was not neatly organized and filled with office supplies. Nope. Hula hoops hung on the door behind me. Beach balls were on the table. There were bins of sorority recruitment supplies and leftover giveaways from the activities fair lining the walls.
I explained quickly that I was in a spare office but that I worked in student activities and it was used as storage for right now. Hopefully this explains the hula hoops.
They asked questions. I answered. It seemed to be going pretty well.
Then there was the woman in the third row who clearly forgot that I could see them in addition to them being able to see me. She sat slouched down in her chair, twirling her hair, rolling her eyes, and looking bored out of her mind throughout my entire interview. Talk about distraction! I forged on and tried to focus on the smiling and engaged interviewers.
Technology was a bigger role in my job search than I expected it to be. The benefits outweigh the costs of being able to use some pretty cool means to conduct interviews. Google Hangout helped me to be able to put faces to names early in the search process. It provided me the opportunity to try something new.
Be prepared. How cliché. I am sure that if someone would have told me that piece of obvious advice when I was in my job search I would have chuckled. Yes, duh. Be prepared. But I learned during that day, no matter which side of the interview you’re on – candidate or search committee – take it seriously. My friends and mentors were right: I should have practiced Google Hangout the night before. I should have checked my surroundings and what would be seen in the camera before I started. I wish the interviewer in the third row could have pretended to be interested in what I had to say. Or maybe that was a purposeful ploy to see how I handled distraction?
The interview must have gone okay because the institution did end up inviting me to campus. That job, however, did not end up being the job for me. You learn something new in every interview and everything works out how it is supposed to. Plus side: Now I know how to use Google Hangout. I think.