Virtually impeccable: Best practices, creative approaches helped us hire up
April 21, 2021
What a different experience it is to interview people virtually! You don’t get to shake their hand to gauge that telltale sign of confidence. You rely on smooth internet experiences, and you’re constantly talking over other people because you’re all trying to say something meaningful.
ECPR was recently looking to hire for four positions—two which we were filling due to attrition and two thanks to growth. This was our first search for candidates since the pandemic began, so we knew we wanted to approach this thoughtfully for a productive process and to give the job seekers a chance to shine virtually.
We saw so many great candidates. It’s been a hard year and some really great people are searching for their next opportunity. We saw some stellar young talent. What struck me throughout the rounds of interviews was how they each were able to connect with us in the virtual world, how prepared they were to show their best selves on screen and the way they used the format to their advantage. Heck, one of the candidates even made sure their cat was properly dressed for an interview. Read on for my reflections on each of them and their own recounting of how they got ready to virtually impress…
On Danielle Kaigler, senior account executive: Dani was completely at ease from the start of our virtual interview. She connected with one of us right off the back with her New England sports prowess, which was a nice tangent from our regular interview topics. And then one of her cats made an appearance in the background. The cat was even wearing a bowtie (scroll down for that). We already knew Dani was great “on paper.” Her experience was what we were looking for, and her interview just filled in the rest. I couldn’t wait for her to join ECPR.
“To prepare for my interview, I made sure to study ECPR and review the website, including the services offered. I wanted to see where I could picture myself within the company and what value I could add to the team. Going into the interview, I knew that I wanted to mention my involvement in the Austin theatre community because I consider my experience there to be an asset. Discussing that part of my life also showcased my personality. I love when theatre is introduced into the conversation! I also loved that ECPR appreciated what I did outside of our traditional workday, and I’m excited to work for a company that encourages its employees to be well-rounded and explore their interests.” — Danielle
On Dennyse Salinas, account associate: We immediately appreciated the effort that Dennyse made for her 8:30 a.m. interview. I dare say she looked better than the three of us who were interviewing her. I distinctly remember that I was still finishing my first cup of coffee. She was confident and measured in her answers to our PR-related questions and very professional. I could immediately picture her in client meetings or calling media and knew she’d be a great fit.
“Prior to applying at ECPR, I made sure to follow the agency on social media and to read over their website to learn more about the company’s history, clients and vision. This allowed me to truly gain interest in ECPR and in the position that I applied for. The best advice I could give someone when preparing for a virtual interview is not to be afraid to show their personality. I know interviews can be intimidating but allowing your personality to show through will give the interviewer the opportunity to learn more about you in addition to your professional background. Doing your research, being yourself, and having excellent follow-up practices will truly set you up for success and help you land your dream position. I am very excited to work alongside some amazing PR professionals at ECPR and to be able to serve a diverse range of national and local clients.” — Dennyse
On Maiya Dickerson, account executive: Maiya was very relatable in her interview. She talked about what she’s done in the last year since moving to Austin, which showed her tenacity. She also asked thoughtful questions of us—one of which was how we would measure success in this role. That’s a question we ask a lot of our clients, so it really spoke to me. There are certain instincts and traits you can’t teach, and she had a lot of intangibles that showed me she’d be successful here.
“Interviewing virtually meant being able to speak to others on camera, which is something that I normally do, having been in the digital space via social media for quite some time. To prepare, I would open up the photos app on my laptop and practice by looking into the camera at myself and going over potential questions. Doing interviews virtually is new to everyone, so I tried not to be too nervous, knowing that we’re all figuring this thing out. I’m looking forward to my time here at ECPR because of the wide range of clients and close connection to the Austin area. I can’t wait to dive right in!” — Maiya
On Sarah Warnke, account associate: We interviewed Sarah on a Friday afternoon, which is not the ideal time for an interview after a long week, but she was on her game. We talked about her weekend trip home to the Dallas area to see her family. She has an ease and confidence in her demeanor that translated virtually, and I remember her being very prepared and personable. We left feeling like it was a great way to end a week of interviews, and I’m thrilled she joined our team.
“To prepare for my virtual interviews, I familiarized myself with the company website and employees to better grasp company values and speak to what interested me. I referenced the job description to connect the required skills with my professional background and updated my resume and cover letter to showcase relevant experiences. I practiced thinking through and presenting my answers to interview questions while ‘power-posing’ in a mirror and asked friends to mock-interview me to ensure my facial expressions, tone and diction expressed confidence and enthusiasm. Following my interviews, I sent personalized thank-you emails expressing my gratitude for the interviewers’ time and my excitement about the opportunity. I am looking forward to putting my passions for writing and storytelling to work for ECPR’s diverse group of clients while learning from my colleagues. I am confident these new experiences and relationships will shape my career and unique skill set.” — Sarah
Our four eventual hires spoke directly to our needs, and I cannot wait to meet them (safely) in person. You can see why each of them won us over and we’re so happy they are now a part of ECPR. We know you will love working with them as well (not Danielle’s cat)!
Levente McCrary is the executive vice president at ECPR.