The Only Black Guy in the Office

The Mental Gymnastics of a Virtual Job Interview Are Hard to Land

You may not be in person, but you’ve still gotta come correct

The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readFeb 8, 2021
Illustration by Michael Kennedy for LEVEL

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

For the first time in a long time, I’m happy with my current job. I have support from my higher-ups, a good deal of responsibility, and room for improvement, word to Drake. Still, at least once every year, I browse the job opportunities on LinkedIn to see what else is out there. I’ve done so ever since a friend who works in HR suggested making an effort to interview elsewhere annually — especially while I’m employed. For whatever reason, she said, many companies find poaching a prospect preferable to hiring someone who is unemployed. (It’s human nature, I guess, to want what someone else has. And you’ve got a built-in cosign.) Plus, even if you’re not considering a move, interviewing elsewhere is a great way to gauge your market value and how your industry is trending.

With this in mind, I’ve used February, the Blackest month on the calendar, as a chance to do some annual recalibration. Some years, I’ve been extended offers, which I’ve used to negotiate a better compensation package at the company where I was already working. Other times, I’ve jumped to the next opportunity, or at least received some unbiased feedback from a recruiter. All net positives. Yet having recently wrapped my first pandemic-era virtual interview, I’ve quickly learned remote interviewing is a very different ball game.

For starters, I took the video meeting from home, but I realized the way I presented myself would still matter. Call me conservative, but I rock a suit for any in-person interview; “business casual” has always sounded like a trap, and as a Black man I steer clear of any convention that could lead to my being judged unfairly. That said, it felt silly being all dressed up with nowhere to go in my own crib, so I went with a blazer worn over a casual but high-quality T-shirt.

Getting my setup right was trickier. As a plant dad, I knew my beautiful green children thriving in the background would make a positive impression. Not only do they…

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The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Writer for

Do you know him? Is it you? The trials and tribulations of a Black man navigating corporate life.