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Even at the best of times, a job interview can be a challenge.

Now, as employers navigate socially distant hiring amid COVID-19 precautions, the process has become more complex. It’s worth taking the time to revisit and refresh your interview prep routine.

Here’s how you can stand out from the crowd:

While some dress codes have relaxed during COVID-19, it’s important to dress in your professional best — even if the interview is taking place remotely.

How you present yourself can be as important as what you write on your résumé. Smile, lean into the conversation and speak clearly. If you’re meeting virtually, consider putting a sticky note close to your webcam to help you maintain eye contact during the call.

If you’re required to interview in person, ask about COVID-19 safety measures in advance. Absent more stringent guidelines, stick to the basics: Wear a mask (and wear it correctly), stand 6 feet apart, don’t shake hands, and avoid touching your face.

Troubleshoot your tech. If you’re meeting over Zoom or another videoconferencing platform, do a test run before the day of the interview to make sure everything operates smoothly and properly. And plan ahead to minimize potential distractions from children, pets or household noise.

Don’t forget to refresh your digital presence, too. Do your LinkedIn page and social profiles reflect the image you want to show employers? Do you have a professional headshot and updated employment history?

Practice, practice, practice. It’s not easy to rattle off your accomplishments confidently and concisely, but rehearsing — alone or with a friend — can help. Prepare a quick pitch (20 or 30 seconds) that introduces your key skills, experience, education and accomplishments.

Be ready for common questions (“Why do you want to work at our company?”), as well as harder ones (“What are your flaws?”). When you’ve finished your answer, stop talking — you don’t need to fill the silence. Be honest, straightforward and positive, and don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.

Follow up. At the end of your meeting, your interviewer may ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” Always say yes so you can find out more about the company and position. Some good questions: “What are the next steps in this process?” or “When can I expect to hear back?”

And send a thank-you note to your interviewer via email or LinkedIn within 24 hours after the interview.

It’s not an easy time to be in the job market. For one-on-one support, sign up for free career-counseling services at www.goodwillcfl.org. Our trained team provides résumé help, application tips, practice interviews, training and much more to help you ace the interview and get back to work.

— Odalys Simmons is a job connection services virtual team member with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. She can be reached at JobConnection@GoodwillCFL.org, or by calling 407-235-1541.

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