Post-lockdown interviewing - a guide to rediscovering face to face interaction

Submitted on Wed 17 Nov 2021

As we all step, mole-like, blinking in the blinding sunlight, back into the non-virtual world of face-to-face interaction, it’s worth reminding ourselves that face-to-face etiquette differs from that to which we’ve become accustomed.  

It is no longer OK to wear pyjama bottoms to interviews and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely to endear you to your interviewer if you bring your cat and/or kids along to the interview.  On the plus side, you are less likely to accidentally mute yourself in an in-person interview and, unless you are prone to panic attacks, it’s unlikely you will freeze, face contorted in a hilarious pose, at random times during the conversation.

So, what things do we need to refresh ourselves on as we move back into the world of face-to-face interviews.  Here are our top 4 tips on a successful face to face, post-lockdown, interview:

The handshake

Pre-Covid, nothing got an interview off to a shakier start than an awkward or weak handshake.  But one of the side effects of Covid is that it has made every handshake awkward.  But luckily, awkward is the new confident.

When attending an interview our advice is to own the awkwardness.  Take the interviewers lead: do they fist bump, offer an elbow, go for a full-on, devil-may-care handshake or simply rely on an awkwardly reserved nod. 

Mentally prepare for the handshake. If you aren’t comfortable with shaking hands or pumping fists, then you lead.  Make it clear that you prefer to nod. And keep your hands out of sight. 

If you are misaligned with your interviewer, and they go in for the handshake and you don’t, make a joke of it.  Prepare yourself for the possibility that your first interaction with your interviewer could be socially awkward and then own it.  “I never know what to do with handshakes these days” followed by an ironic roll of the eyes, has become the modern-day equivalent of “phew its hot out there” or other mumbled small talk topics.  It’s not the most exciting conversation they’ll have all day but it’s a shared experience to discuss on the walk from reception to the interview room. 

Research beforehand

In a face-to-face interview you can’t sneakily have a web page open in the background in order to research stuff as you go.  Unfortunately, in an in-person situation you have to rely on what’s already in your head.  So, make sure that you know everything you need to know about:

  • The company
    • Website
    • LinkedIn
    • Know their values
    • Know key people’s names – CEO etc
    • Read any recent news articles about them or by them
    • Read their Google reviews
    • Read their Glassdoor reviews (if they have any)
    • Share performance
  • The interviewers
    • LinkedIn profiles
    • Their blogs
  • The role
    • Know the job spec inside out
    • Review the company ‘work for us page’
  • Use your recruiter
    • Find out everything they know about the role and interviewer
    • Speak to your recruitment agency about their likes/dislikes

Dress code

The world went a bit more casual through two years of lockdown and remote working. We’ve all witnessed meetings and interviews becoming less and less formal as time progressed.  But as we move back to face-to-face meetings and interviews, dress code etiquette has become more complex.

Turning up to an interview at a tech start-up in a 3-piece suit is probably a mistake and likewise, attending an interview at an investment bank in board shorts isn’t likely to give a good first impression.

If you are going through a recruitment agency Sydney, get them to give you a guide to the dress code. If not, then look on the company’s website to get cues as to what they are likely to wear to the office.

The rule of thumb is to dress one level smarter than the person you are meeting for an interview. And if in doubt go business casual… apparently pyjamas are not a good idea?!

Practice, practice, practice

This isn’t a new thing, but practice before an interview is key. Know your CV inside out and practice answers to common behavioural questions. Have multiple examples ready to talk about.  Good examples to have at the ready are major achievements, great customer service, conflict resolution and your leadership style.

Prepare for your interview by writing down questions beforehand. When they say, “any questions for me?” have good, intelligent questions ready to go. 

But most of all, prepare yourself. You are awesome. You’ve been locked away for a long time so you may have forgotten how awesome you are, now is the time to remember.  Write down the things that you are good at, your unique selling points, the great things people say about you.  Make sure you are confident in your own abilities.

So, there you have it, 4 tips on returning to face-to-face interviews in a post-lockdown, post-pyjama world of in-person meetings. 


Thinking of changing jobs or aiming to expand your career then let’s start with a chat. Call us today on (02) 8346 6700 and speak to a recruitment agency that knows your market.

The Recruitment Company – Making people enjoy the recruitment experience again

Specialist Recruitment Agency within Information Technology, Project Services, IT Infrastructure, Software Development, SAP, Data and Analytics, Devops, Cloud and the Public Sector.

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