Our claim professionals are continuing to deliver on the Travelers Promise, to take care of our customers, communities and each other, which has become increasingly important during the upheaval and uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
Just before daybreak on a Monday in mid-April, a severe windstorm swept through Charlotte, North Carolina, damaging properties across the region. After the storm passed, Erin Karaffa packed up her drone and her personal protective gear, ready to start conducting property inspections and helping our customers recover.
Within a few hours, Erin, a Property Claim professional in our Virginia-Carolina Claim Center, had spoken to a customer whose home was damaged by a large falling tree. Because of the extent of damage to the attic, Erin couldn’t conduct a virtual inspection, so she set up an in-person inspection for the following day and arrived on site in protective gear, following social distancing guidelines.
“I like to give customers a heads-up and call from the driveway to say, ‘I’m here. Are you comfortable with me coming in? I have a mask and gloves on,’” Erin explained. “I want to make sure they’re prepared. Even though you see a lot of people wearing masks, it can still be intimidating.”
In addition to inspecting the interior damage, Erin used a drone to assess the damage to the roof and then issued the customer’s claim payment via ePay, Travelers’ secure electronic payment system. “The tree impacted a pipe that came out of her roof,” Erin stated, “and it shattered all the way into the attic and down into the crawlspace, so she needed to get a plumber in there right away. ePay helped her do that.”
The customer was so pleased with Erin’s prompt, professional response despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 that she sent a heartfelt letter of thanks. “You had a caring demeanor and were very thorough, professional, diligent and knowledgeable about what to do,” the customer wrote to Erin. “Travelers is fortunate to have an employee like you, especially during this pandemic that our world is dealing with.”
Video interviewing is becoming more common in the hiring process. Advanced technology and the accessibility of video chat apps and programs give job seekers and employers face-to-face interaction without having to meet in person.
Although your job interview may take place in a casual atmosphere, that doesn’t mean you should have a casual attitude about it. It is still a job interview, with the same implications as an in-person office meeting.
Preparation and set up for the video interview is crucial. Consider this advice as you set up, dress up and take on your next video interview.
Set the stage: Choose a quiet space where you can control the surroundings. If you can, try to avoid public places or spots with background activity. Ensure that your backdrop is simple, clean and well-lit. Face a window to take advantage of natural light or set up a lamp behind your camera. Facing the light will help eliminate distracting shadows from your face and background.
Avoid distractions by cleaning off your desk and keeping a glass of water, a pen and paper and a copy of your resume handy. Close applications that may be running on your computer or phone and set all notifications to “do not disturb.”
Tech check: Find out beforehand what app or video platform the employer would like to use and download if need be. Test the application with your internet, audio and video connections, to ensure its stability. It is a great idea to test with a friend to ensure that everything works properly.
Set up your camera at eye level, leaving 10-20% of the screen above your head empty. If your computer is too low, use books to prop it up. If using your phone or tablet, you can also use books or something stable to prop it up.
Using headphones will help prevent echos in the audio and a microphone will help your voice come through clearly.
Dress the part: You may be in your bedroom or kitchen, but you still need to look like a professional. Wear what you would wear to an in-person interview at the company, from head to toe. You will feel and act more professionally if you look the part.
Steer clear of very bright, distracting colors or prints, like stripes, that may cause a visual glitch on camera. Avoid jewelry that makes noise or causes a glare.
During the interview: Similar to an office interview, you want to convey optimism and positive body language. Maintain good posture with your feet on the floor and your back straight, with arms rested on your desk or lap.
Eye contact is essential. When you are talking, make sure you are looking at the camera and not the screen. When listening, smile and nod to show you are engaged. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate, keeping your movements small and close to your body. Avoid fidgeting, touching your face or looking away from your device.
At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and follow up the next day with a thank you email.
If things don’t go to plan: Make sure you have a secondary way to contact your interviewer. If you lose audio, video, or internet connection, call your interviewer and see if you can continue by phone or reschedule.
If an unexpected noise or disruption occurs, simply apologize for the interruption, ask for a moment to step away, or wait for the noise to subside. Mute your microphone and secure the space before beginning the interview again.
With these tips, along with your traditional interview prep, you will be well on your way to making a great first impression. For additional interview tips, read our post about Behavioral Interviewing.
Many of the duties you performed in the service have a civilian counterpart in business and industry, including here at Travelers. Still, the job search process can be challenging. That’s why we want to help you along the way, with practical resume and interview advice that can make your transition from the military easier and more successful.
The goal of your resume is to obtain an interview. It should give potential employers an overview of your background, while highlighting your accomplishments. You want to stand out among your peers. At a minimum, your resume should include your professional experience in a themed or chronological order, as well as your education, achievements and volunteer interests.
Your resume is your chance to make a good first impression. But, the interview is where the job is won!
This is your chance to set the tone with a sort, interesting introduction.
“I grew up in ___. I decided to join the [military branch] because____. I had a great experience including___, and learned ___, ___ and ____. That brings me here today to learn more about [company] and your opportunity for [position].”
“Based on my visit and discussions today, I am very interested in joining [company]. I believe my ___, ___, and ___ skills position me well to both learn from and contribute to the success of the organization. Is there anything more that I can tell you about my experience, or are there areas where you feel I am lacking?”
Chances are, interviews and boards that you have participated in throughout your military care have adequately prepared you to take on an interview in the civilian corporate world. Still, it’s always helpful to have a toolkit for reference. For additional interview tips, read our post about Behavioral Interviewing.
An in-person interview can be a critical step in the hiring process and can help a recruiter or hiring manager determine whether a job candidate fits the organizational safety culture and core safety values of your company. Studies have shown that behavioral interviewing1 can be an effective interviewing technique and can help the interviewer understand more about how a candidate might act when faced with a workplace concern or safety issue.
The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that a person’s past behavior can more accurately predict future performance in similar situations. By asking a job candidate how they performed in specific real-life settings, you’ll gain a better idea of how that person may behave if they work at your company. By considering a candidate’s propensity to adopt safe workplace practices, business owners can gain insight into how they will embrace the company’s safety culture.
1 Predictive Validity of a Behavioral Interview Technique; Oliphant, Hansen and Oliphant; Marketing Management Journal, Fall 2008.
Career fairs can be somewhat overwhelming. From ensuring that your resume is up-to-date to perfecting your elevator pitch, there are many details to consider. However, jobseekers must remember, employers are also there to promote their best selves. The pressure is certainly not one-sided. When it comes to preparing, members of our University Relations recruitment team – Janixia Reyes, Alicia Hitchcock, and Jamie Roshka – shared three essential tips to consider:
Traditionally, career fairs will publish a list of employers attending the event in advance. Utilize this information to select and prioritize the companies you wish to connect with. Research those companies online, utilizing their company and career websites and social media channels. Collect general information about the company, their core values and mission statement as well as recent news about the company and any available job openings.
“Having conducted research before speaking to representatives from a company will make you stand out as someone who has taken the time to learn more,” said Reyes, “It will also help you curate your questions to maximize the time you have with the representatives behind the table.”
You won’t get much time with one person or company, so it is important to make a good impression quickly. Have your pitch ready to summarize your skills and experience in a concise and memorable manner.
“Think of this as a personal commercial,” said Hitchcock, “Your pitch should grab the employer’s attention, keep it, and give them cause to recall it later.”
Take the time to thoughtfully craft your pitch and practice it for length and efficiency. Having it committed to memory will bring confidence and enthusiasm to your delivery.
Hitchcock added, “Be sure that your pitch is genuine and rehearsed so that you can speak calmly and effectively about the subject you know best – you.”
“Effectively communicating your objectives gives the recruiter insight into whether you’d be a fit for their organization,” said Roshka, “It also helps them assess what role or job would work best for you.”
If you aren’t sure what your specific career goals are yet, focus on your skill set and apply it to the company you are speaking with.
“If you don’t know yet what you want to do that’s okay, too! As a recruiter it’s helpful to know if a candidate has a definitive long-term plan or if there are other opportunities we can introduce that you may not have been aware of,” added Roshka.
No matter your major, no matter the industry you’re most interested in pursuing, your ability to vocalize the correlation between your skills and the scope of an opportunity is critical. That includes highlighting details that are specific to each of the employers you connect with during the fair and beyond.