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A Final Look at the Pandemic—as Candidates Still do the Darndest Things

Now that we’re rolling through Q2-2021, and – at long last – leaving the depths of 2020 behind us, we can reflect back on how our lives and perspectives have been irrevocably transformed, and what we have learned as a result…one thing that has remained unerringly, perplexingly, and obliviously constant is that candidates, clients, and all of us, continue to do the darndest things…

Zoom, Teams, Webex, BlueJeans – while we all weren’t technical experts with the myriad video platforms that suddenly became integral parts of our lives, we got the hang of it pretty quickly. Fine tuning for audio, lighting, and the fact that fields of view differ (sometimes significantly!) from platform to platform…as one FaceTime veteran discovered, emerging into a Webex interview with his dress shirt/shorts combo in plain sight…


As we all got increasingly comfortable with video meetings, basic human nature, of course, began to kick-in: if some was good, more must be better! Sadly, not proved out, when clients accustomed to panel interview formats, began growing the number of Zoom participants in a session exponentially. Good rule of thumb that if your screen looks like the Brady Bunch intro on steroids, you’ve gone too far.


We also gradually learned that, with the seamlessness of video communication, one’s physical location became more-and-more irrelevant. An exception to that rule: when arranging a socially-distanced, in-person meeting for a CFO candidate in New York, and finding that said candidate had decided (days before) to migrate south, and work remotely from his vacation home in Bermuda for the winter.


And speaking of in-person meetings, as 2020 progressed, so did our comfort level with the idea of meeting face-to-face, with adherence to certain protocols, and masked-up appropriately. Some lessons learned, however, that “masked up appropriately” means different things to different people, and while we endorse showing a bit of personal style in choice of mask, replacing the bottom half of your face with Bugs Bunny’s (as one COO candidate did) is more distracting to a potential employer than any impression you’re trying to convey…


We’ve had some clients take another tack than the indoor-masked-meeting route. Especially in one case, where the CEO client and the CIO candidate lived in closer proximity to each other than the office, and agreed to meet socially-distanced, outdoors, in a nearby park. Nature sometimes “does the darndest things” though, and when their sunny day abruptly turned into a torrential downpour, they were fortunate to find a gazebo in sprinting distance, continuing on their – soggy – conversation with less risk of washing away…


On a final note, while the ultra-casual look was both a novelty and somewhat expected in the beginning of the remote working era, we’re now well in the midst of the “new normal” cliché, and appearance standards are starting to return. And while formality may not totally revert to pre-pandemic levels, conducting a business meeting on video with a less-than-polished appearance is one thing, but – note to one CMO candidate – showing up to an in-person meeting, looking like Tom Hanks from Castaway, is something else…

Image: Twentieth Century Fox
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