How to Conduct the Perfect Virtual Interview for Technology Jobs

Tips to Ensure a Successful Virtual Hiring Process

Virtual interviews for technology jobs are becoming increasingly popular. Not only because of COVID-19, but also because they allow employers to interview the best talent available from across the United States and globally for remote roles.

In addition, virtual interviews save money, are more easily slotted into work schedules, and enable the hiring process to be accelerated. However, there are drawbacks when conducting virtual interviews. Poor audio and video quality can damage the experience, and interviewing via video means that nonverbal behavior is often missed.

In this article, we provide tips that will help you and your candidate get the most out of virtual interviews.

Preparing for a Virtual Interview for Technology Jobs

As they say, if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Here are our tips to prepare to a virtual interview.

1.     Make Sure Your Social Media and Website Is Updated

Candidates will research you online. They will read your posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, and they will examine your website. They will want to learn as much about you as they can before interviewing with you. It’s essential to ensure that your employer branding is consistent and that your social media portrays a genuine picture of you as a company and as an employer.

2.     Set Up the Interview ‘Room’

When you are interviewing a candidate virtually it is important to ensure that they feel like they are in an interview environment. It’s essential that you can be seen and heard properly, and that it doesn’t look like you are interviewing them from a store cupboard.

Focus on your background first. What is it that the interviewee will see behind you? Make certain that there are no visual distractions. If you are interviewing with a window to an office behind you, close the blind. If possible, choose a virtual background that depicts your brand (you may need to invest in a green screen).

When setting up your camera and audio, test to make sure that your lighting is sufficient for you to be seen. Avoid backlighting as this will turn you into a silhouette. Direct light from the front is the order of the day. Ensure that your microphone captures all your words and does not muffle your speech.

3.     Prepare Your Interview Questions

Consider the skills, experience, and knowledge that the role requires, and prepare questions to test the candidate in each of these areas. You should compose a list of universal questions for every candidate, and a list of questions that are specific to the candidate being interviewed.

4.     Develop a Candidate Rating System

Use a rating system to rate the candidate on each question you ask and other measures you consider important; for example, how the candidate presents themselves, their confidence, the language they use, eye-contact, etc. This will help you determine who the best candidates are as you move through your hiring process.

If you are using a blended interview strategy, in which some candidates will be interviewed in person while others will be interviewed virtually, then ensure that you score candidates consistently in line with your rating system.

5.     Give the Interview Plenty of Notice

Afford virtual interviewees the same courtesy you do in-person interviewees. You wouldn’t expect a candidate to attend your office within a couple of hours of being invited for an interview. Allow the candidate time to prepare, and you are more likely to meet the real person – ready to present their best self.

Ensure that you send an electronic invite to the candidate. Include the date, time, technology to be used (with a link), and any other information they may need to prepare for the interview.

Immediately Before the Interview

Before the interview, there are a few actions to take to make sure that the interview is conducted professionally and that you give the interviewee a good impression.

1.     Eliminate All Distractions

Ensure that others know not to disturb you. There is little more off-putting to a candidate than a virtual interview which is continually interrupted by others walking into your office.

In addition, turn off all other distractions – your cell phone, email messaging system, instant message alerts, and so on.

2.     Test the Technology

One final check will ensure that your technology is working, lighting and sound levels are correct, and that your background is professional. This can be done using the automated test in the application, or with your ITC account executive. (Have you met our leadership team, yet?)

3.     Dress Appropriately

Dress as you would for an in-person interview, but also remember that you are on screen – so, wear a shirt or blouse that doesn’t clash with your background.

4.     Ensure You Have All You Need to Hand

Have you got your interview questions and score card in front of you? Do you have a pen? What about a glass of water to ensure your throat does not dry?

The Interview Itself

During the interview itself, it is good practice to conduct it as you would an in-person interview. Stay focused on the interviewee, be mindful of your own body language, and remain professional throughout. Here are five things you should do during a virtual interview:

1.     Build Rapport

Introduce the company and yourself, and take a couple of moments to ease the interviewee into the interview. Be polite and smile.

Make eye contact by looking into your webcam when the candidate is speaking. This is alien to most people – it’s natural to look at the interviewee’s image on the screen and look there.

Ask a few rapport building questions to start – perhaps about hobbies or experiences with virtual interviews – before then moving on to discuss the candidate’s background. Let the candidate know it is okay for them to ask questions, especially if they need to clarify anything you say.

2.     Ask the Questions on Your List

Make sure that you ask all the questions that you have prepared for the candidate. As you do so, mark them according to your scoring system.

3.     Give the Interviewee Time to Answer

There may be a time lag between you asking a question and the candidate hearing it. This can result in an interview in which the candidate appears to be slower to answer. Take this into consideration, and allow time for the answer to come. If the audio or video stops or cuts out, explain what happened and ask the candidate to repeat their answer.

4.     Ensure You Have the Cultural Conversation

Cultural fit is as important as the fit on skills and experience. Some would say more so – skills can be learned, and experience is acquired. Make sure that you discuss your company and team culture, and your company’s values, and give an idea of the environment in which the candidate will be working.

5.     End the Interview with Next Steps

When the interview is closing, ask the interviewee if they have any further questions. Then, once you have answered these, explain the next steps in the hiring process, including how you will inform them of your decision.

Summing Up

In many ways, virtual interviews are the same as in-person interviews. You must prepare well for them, know what questions you must ask, and have a system that enables you to compare candidates effectively. There are, however, some differences. Being aware of these and using tactics to overcome any challenges will ensure that your virtual interviews run smoothly and add value to your hiring process.

To access a great pool of talent for your technology jobs, contact Irvine Technology Corporation today. We’re here to help you be the difference.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

diversity in hiring

Let’s be honest, diversity is not a new topic and most organizations already have it as a stated business priority. And, unfortunately, over the last 25 years, I have worked with senior executives in companies large and small on diversity strategy, and not a lot has changed. Many leaders I have worked with have been disappointed or frustrated with the lack of results and outcomes that they have been able to realize. Through these experiences I have identified a few insights to consider when leaders develop a diversity strategy.

1. Challenge Assumptions and Perceptions

First, challenge the assumptions and perceptions that exist in the organization about Diversity. Here’s a quick story to illustrate my point. When I have my first discussion with senior executives about diversity, I often hear this same response, “Mary, we have tried to recruit and hire diverse leaders, but there just aren’t any diverse talent in X industry… they just don’t exist.” – fill in the blank with your industry.

Every time I heard this, I was a little confused and thought to myself, could this be true? My first response was to look at the recruiting and hiring data. When I did that, I found that organizations were successfully and consistently recruiting and hiring diverse leaders into the business. The problem was that they weren’t retaining diverse leaders. The turnover data showed that the same number of diverse leaders that were being hired annually, or more, were leaving the company. So, it was no surprise to me that the senior executives were not seeing any change in the diversity results for their business.

The lesson learned is, it is important to understand what the problem is before trying to solve it and take action improve diversity. In this situation, recruiting was not the problem, but rather, retention was the problem. One of the biggest myths and assumptions is the idea that diverse leaders do not exist in a specific industry or business and a successful diversity strategy includes both recruiting and retention strategies.

2. Build Diversity at the Front-line Manager Level

When I work with organizations on diversity strategy, the focus tends to be on the senior leadership. This is natural and understandable and ultimately, that is the goal for many organizations. However, the diversity of leaders deeper in the organization can be even more important. Let me explain why I believe this to be the case. Many organizations are quite diverse when you look at the total employee population of an organization. However, there is a clear pattern evidenced in organizations where we find a steep drop-off in the diversity of talent at the front-line manager level.

The entry-level leadership positions lack diversity and every subsequent level above that, the percentage of diverse talent continues to decrease. Therefore, even if hiring and promotion rates improve at senior levels, as a whole, the organization will not be able to “catch up” and close the gap because there are just too few diverse leaders in the organization’s leadership pipeline. A sustainable diversity strategy should put priority and emphasis on hiring, developing and promoting diverse leaders into the entry-level, front-line manager positions to make a positive impact on diversity results and outcomes.

3. Focus On Achievable Small Steps For Greater Impact

Finally, the subject of improving diversity can be overwhelming for many leaders. There is so much that needs to be done, the gap is large, and to be effective an organization needs a comprehensive, long-term strategy. All of this is very true and necessary. However, when people become overwhelmed or the problem feels too big to solve, leaders can become paralyzed and oftentimes, that leads to doing nothing; this is a natural human instinct. While I am the first to advocate for a diversity strategy that is long-term focused and comprehensive, I would also suggest that the greatest impact that leaders can have on any organization’s diversity results is 100% within their control, does not cost any money, and can be implemented immediately!

One of the most impactful actions that can be taken to support a diversity strategy is to create positive defining moments for employees. A defining moment is a small action that has a huge impact on the employee; it is not a grand gesture. Defining moments can be as simple as a “thank you”, recognition of an employee’s birthday, or simply making time to listen to an employee’s personal story. Especially in today’s environment, leaders need to be even more intentional about identifying opportunities to create defining moments. If the leaders in your organization were to make a list of the diverse talent on their immediate team or within their immediate department and began implementing one small action for one employee, every day, this would have a huge positive impact on the organization’s culture.

So, my call to action to each of you is this, starting today – make a list of the diverse talent on your team, identify one action that you will take in the next day or by the end of the week and begin creating positive defining moments. And, just like that, you have taken the first steps in bringing your organization’s diversity strategy to life! Here’s another tip, don’t stop there, leaders can create positive defining moments for each and every employee on their team!

Remember, leadership takes courage and courage is the fuel that drives change. I invite you to join me in leading change and building a diverse leadership talent pipeline for your organization, one leader at a time!

Mary (Choi) KellyMary Choi Kelly PhD, is the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Practice Leader for ITC. ITC has a long-standing history of being recognized as a world-class recruiting and technology solutions leader.

 

 

We see ourselves as uniquely positioned to help organizations build incredible places to work through an intentional focus on culture and diversity. Companies who are committed to building inclusive organizations are poised to realize extraordinary results, not only in terms of employee engagement and productivity but also in customer delight and shareholder return.

The path to creating the most inclusive organization begins with aligning an organization’s beliefs and mindset that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a critical driver to their organization’s success. Through customized solutions, tangible insights and relevant tools, The ITC DEI Practice and Solutions team can help you establish a foundation that will enable long-term sustainable culture change and position you as an employer-of-choice for diverse talent.

Women in Tech – Is Lack of Gender Diversity Holding Your Company Back?

women in technologyWe Need to Break the Male-Dominated Mold

The low number of women in tech is a contentious issue, especially in disciplines that include software engineer and data analytics jobs. It’s stopping companies from taking advantages of the many benefits of gender diversity, such as greater creativity and innovation, better decision-making, and higher valuations.
You might be surprised to discover just how male dominated the tech sector is, in both numbers in work and salaries paid. In this article, we look at why this may be.

The Gender Gap – Closing, but Still Too Wide

The United States has made great strides in narrowing the gender gap in employment, but the tech sector remains male dominated. According to Pew Research, across the United States economy women now make up 47% of the workforce. That’s up from around 30% in 1950.

There has also been progress made in the general gender pay gap in the United States. Glassdoor’s 2019 Progress on the Gender Pay Gap Research found that the controlled pay gap (which allows for factors such as age, education, experience, etc.) has decreased from around 5.4% in 2016 to 4.9% in 2019. So, we’re making progress, but there is still more to do. Then we come to the tech sector.

The Gender Gap in the Tech Sector Is Huge

According to research, only 26% of computing jobs are held by women, and whereas the female proportion of the workforce has been steadily increasing in the United States economy, it’s a different story in the tech sector. Studies show that the number of women in tech roles has been on a steady decline.

The figures are even more marked in Silicon Valley startups, where it has been estimated that a paltry 12% of engineers are women and only 11% of executive positions are held by females. But it’s not only at startups that we see huge discrepancy between gender hiring. Figures compiled by Statista show that among the GAFAM companies (Google; Amazon; Facebook; Apple; Microsoft) only around 23% of their tech employees are female.

The pay gap is shocking, too, and especially in more technical jobs. In recent analysis conducted by Dice, it was found that, on average:
• Female data architects earn more than $13,000 less than their male equivalents
• Female data scientists are paid an average of $9,561 less than male data scientists
• Female software engineers are paid an average of $8,559 less than male software engineers

Why Are There So Few Females in Tech Roles?

There are several reasons why women are underrepresented in technology jobs in the United States. They mostly relate to institutionalized gender bias, and include:

• Gender Stereotypes Leading to a Smaller Female Talent Pool

Grandparents, parents, and schools deliver a gender stereotype that boys are better at science and math than girls. This discourages females from studying for technology and science subjects. Men taking technology and engineering degrees outnumber women by between four and five to one.  With so few women coming through with suitable education, there is a far smaller pool of female talent for employers to choose from. This leads to a gender bias in hiring.

• Unconscious Cultural Bias

The American Sociological Review found that hiring managers lean toward recruiting people who are like themselves. They favor candidates who have similar hobbies, likes and dislikes, experiences, etc. When an interview panel is dominated by male interviewers, it’s easy to understand that they are likely to favor male candidates.

• Women Are More Likely to Leave Tech Jobs

The Women in Tech: The Facts report finds that women are more than twice as likely to leave tech roles as men. The reasons for leaving could include a hostile male culture, a feeling of isolation, and a lack of effective sponsors which leads to fewer career opportunities. Often, women in tech are seen as being more capable in the ‘softer roles’ – demonstrated, perhaps, by a far higher average salary than men when employed as technical writers.
When women leave tech jobs, a quarter take a non-technical job in a different company, while almost as many become self-employed, and a fifth take a break from work. This leaves only around a third who move to other companies in tech roles.

How Can We Close the Gender Gap in Technology Jobs?

There isn’t a quick fix to closing the gender gap, but there are things that we can all do. Actions we can take include:
• Parents encouraging daughters to take a keener interest in STEM subjects
• At school and colleges, encouraging girls to take a greater interest in technology and removing the bias in education
• Companies need to work on their corporate culture, with gender bias training, for example
• Ensuring that more women are present in executive meetings
• Companies sponsoring schools and colleges to encourage females into technology
• Actively seeking to recruit females, and closing the pay gap further

Research by Morgan Stanley has found that greater gender diversity has a substantial effect on your business outcomes. They cite better returns, lower volatility, and five-year outperformance as demonstrable results because of greater gender diversity. A report by McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than industry medians.

Perhaps the question that needs to be answered is not how tech companies can improve their gender balance, but if they can afford not to. To access a great pool of talent for your technology jobs, contact Irvine Technology Corporation today. We’re here to help you be the difference.

3 Tips To Negotiate Your Technology Salary

Salary Negotiation tipsSalary negotiation is not just a matter of interest to employees, but employers and HR as well. If you are an employee who seeks a better package for your technology job, a couple of negotiation tactics could boost your take-home pay closer to a figure you deserve.

Tactic 1: Be reasonable

You can ask for the moon and the stars (or a salary that, by all standards, is more than acceptable). But in such cases, you can be sure that your request would get turned down. Instead, do a bit of homework and see what your skills are worth.

Take into account factors like where your job is located (for example, a position in California will pay differently than the same post in Portland), organizational priorities (for example, how important are you to the company), job requirements, and the competencies you possess. If you’re seeking a promotion, then make sure that your skills are up-to-date.

Also, take into account the current position of the company – is it amidst a growth phase, or is it trying to get more work done with less staff?

Tactic 2: Demonstrate your worth

We often expect the organization to know our value because it’s “so obvious.” The truth is that what’s clear to us is usually not as evident to the HR and management of your firm. Learn to state what’s most apparent to you. Quantify your worth – in other words, when you come to the negotiation, bring concrete examples of how your actions have helped the company and gained results.

Tactic 3: Use phrases that can help with negotiations

While there are no magic words that will get you a higher salary, some phrases can demonstrate certain values, like knowledge, congeniality, and confidence, that can get you better remuneration. Don’t think of your talk with Human Resources about your salary as a battle. Instead, see it for what it is – a conversation – and use these phrases in it.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work together with you and add value to the team.” – a great way to start a negotiation.
“Based on my research…” This opening line lets the company know that you are not asking for more than fair and that you’ve done your homework about how much companies are paying their employees in similar roles.
“Market.” When talking about your research on the appropriate salary for you, don’t forget to mention your value in the job market.
“Value.” This refers to what you’re worth to the company and what you bring to the table and how you increase the company’s revenue or margins. For example, if you can prove that your work has brought in $100,000 in profits, then giving you a $5,000 raise would sound reasonable to your employer.
“I would prefer not to leave.” This sentence can be a defense strategy if your salary is meager. It lets your employer know why you want a hike, how much you want, and that hiking up your wage is a win-win for both you and the organization.

We know that there are a number of strategies out there, but implementing these tips will certainly help with your salary negotiation when that time comes. Finally, always remember before you accept an offer, ask for time to think about the offer and take a couple of days to decide if you’re happy with it. This way you can make the best, and most informed decision for you.

Technology Jobs In The Face of Talent Shortage

Technology jobsTechnology jobs in the face of talent shortage

Even as technology jobs, personal lives, and economies are becoming more connected, more digital, and automated in the next normal after COVID-19, the spotlight is on the next wave of innovation in information technology (IT). Apart from being the driver of America’s competitive edge, information technology jobs have continued to play a key role in shaping economic growth; as per Cyberstates 2018, a CompTIA’s analysis of the tech industry.  

Employment in the IT industry is slated to grow at a rate of 13% by 2026, faster than all other occupations. From cloud computing and big data storage to information security, the demand for skilled technology workers is on the rise.

CompTIA’s analysis reveals tech companies are looking for a broad range of skills in four specific areas of infrastructure, software development, cybersecurity, and data management. Across these four sectors, hiring companies are looking for mid-level workers with six to ten years of experience or early-stage workers with three to five years of experience. 

So how can the tech talent shortage impact your business?

Since 2010, in the U.S., tech-related jobs have grown by as much as 200,000 annually, as the U.S. economy is increasingly becoming reliant on skilled technology labor. 

As per a KPMG study, 65% of the 3000 technology leaders surveyed, named hiring challenges as the key factor that was impacting the industry. While these technologies are set to transform economies, there is a critical need for a capable workforce that can convert technical knowledge and exploit the immense potential of digital technologies.

  • Fintech is expected to face a tech labor shortage of more than ten million, leading to a $1.3 trillion revenue loss by 2030.
  • By 2030, Telecom and media will have to deal with a shortage of 4.3 million tech workers costing the industries $449.7 billion.
  • In the manufacturing sector, the deficit of tech workers will be as much as 7.9 million with a revenue loss of $607.1 billion.

Having the right IT talent and investing in upskilling your top talent are critical for business growth and success as technology will take center stage in the years to come.

How industry forecasts can be skewed

Your approach to IT staffing is key to finding the right IT talent. In the last 20 years there were three distinct periods of time when either employment was high and finding qualified candidates was difficult, or, there was a spike in unemployment and highly skilled candidates were in the market looking for a job.

The early 2000’s introduced the “dot.com era.” Dot.Com This was a time when IT employment was very high and qualified candidates were hard to find. It was a difficult choice for candidates because they were lured by the instant wealth: “stock options in a startup company” versus the opportunities provided by stable well-established companies. When Venture Capital eased, many of these dot.com startup companies failed, laying off thousands of IT personnel. It took years for this talent pool to find jobs.

Later that decade (starting in 2008) the financial crisis hit 2008 Financial Crisis, many large firms closed and firms closely related were also greatly impacted. The result: layoffs were significant. Large numbers of high caliber IT personnel were looking for a job. Many in the IT field found other opportunities outside of IT while others remained searching for years. Most never realized the same compensation levels they had prior to the financial crisis.

Third, these last few years we once again have high employment Current Employment (and the future looks very good for continued high employment Employment Forecast), resulting in limited availability of qualified IT talent. This once again puts pressure on companies to both retain current employees and attract qualified candidates. 

Economic changes happen, as we saw with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We are still navigating our way through those changes, and although an employment forecast may contain the most current data available, it is still speculative. There is no way to determine what the future will bring. Overall, IT will remain an integral part of a company’s success. Retaining and attracting the right people with the right skills will surely be a constant.

 

 

Lessons Learned from Covid-19

covid19 lessons learnedThe Coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way companies operate globally. However, there are many lessons that employers can take away from the current state of affairs. Here are a few vital COVID-19 teachings that employers must always bear in mind:

1. Arm leaders with information about Coronavirus

During times of crisis, channels of communication are filled with baseless rumors and half-baked truths. This can create a lot of panic in the community. Employees could make panicked decisions, which can affect the working of the firm. This is where leaders have an essential role to play.

Companies must ensure that people in the leadership position are provided the correct data and that they make critical pandemic-related announcements to ensure that the wrong messages don’t spread.

2. Develop and support a robust digital working environment

Work from home has become a necessity today. Companies that previously haven’t offered remote working should build a strong remote work environment.

Give your staff enough time to get secure network connectivity and glitch-free laptops for their remote work. Provide internet dongles to key personnel. Train your IT team to address tech-failures too. Additionally, develop policies for data sharing & put in place security measures to prevent data leaks.

You should also perfect the remote hiring process. Share your questionnaires and recruitment quizzes via Google Docs. This way, you can check applicants’ answers digitally. Use tools like Skype to hold virtual interviews, and create an online repository of onboarding materials that new joiners can peruse before they start.

3. Leverage technology to facilitate intra-company & inter-company collaboration and communication

Since your staff will not be physically together, collaborating on projects can become a challenge. This is why you need to leverage collaboration and communication technology to ensure you continue to remain efficient.

Tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Uber Conference can help you hold video conferences with your entire team. Messaging tools like Slack, Fleep, Chanty, and Glip are great for inter- & intra-team messaging.

4. Continue to build technical proficiency through virtual training

A pandemic is no reason to put a stop to all corporate training events. Just make them virtual instead of office-based sessions.

Training will allow your employees to upskill themselves with the latest technical proficiency and get ready to take on workplace challenges post-pandemic. Training will also keep your staff engaged during these tough times and reduce dissatisfaction with work.

Online training platforms like Udemy and Coursera allow companies to create and run their own training modules. You can also choose to run your training programs on virtual classrooms like Vedamo, LearnCube, and Adobe Connect. You even have the option of implementing learning management software like Docebo and Articulate Storyline, where you may create content and organize video conferences to hold training sessions.

5. Develop a Work From Home policy that supports employees’ flexibility needs

Finally, remember that although they work remotely, your employees may require further flexibility to discharge their duties. For example, international calls/meetings may need to be rescheduled due to the crisis, or your staff may need to temporarily visit the office to access certain data. This would entail allowing them to work at odd hours or accessing materials that they usually wouldn’t be allowed to obtain.

So, craft a remote working policy that provides feasible solutions to all these issues. This will ensure that the company functions without a hitch.