By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.
Interviewing for a job or internship can be stressful for some students under any circumstances. Now, many of you will be doing a remote/virtual interview and that can complicate the task further. But with some practice, you’ll overcome that obstacle.
That’s the advice of many experts and career development professionals including Paul Snyder, an assistant director at the University Career Center. The more that a student practices virtual communication including practice interviewing, the more comfortable they will be in that environment.
Beyond that, Snyder advises treating the virtual interview like an in-person interview. “This means dressing the part to help you get into the right mindset, putting away distractions (cell phones), and interviewing in a quiet place where you can focus solely on who you are talking to. Because the interview is virtual, it will be more challenging to create a connection with your interviewer. Hence, being able to really focus on the conversation is all the more important."
You should also pay close attention to the environment in which you are interviewing since that backdrop can create a subtle, and in some cases, an overt impression that could impact the evaluation of you. Better to have a nice bookcase, plant or photo behind you than a poster of your favorite metal band or disheveled kitchen shelves.
Snyder says that because the interview is virtual, you can take advantage of that in ways that are not possible with an in-person interview. “It means that you can have extensive notes to help guide you through major points that you want to talk about with the employer. In my own experience with virtual interviews (Skype and phone), I have taped notes to the wall in front of me so that I could look at them during the interview. Obviously, you don't want to read directly from your notes, but having them to help guide your talking points is completely acceptable and can help you ace the interview.”
Be aware of your non-verbal communication during your remote interview. Make eye contact by looking directly at your camera as opposed to looking off into the distance. Having your camera at eye level can help in that regard. And practice attentive, upright body posture that shows you are engaged and interested.
You should test your setup to ensure that you look as good as possible on-camera. That means checking for the lighting, running a test on the make-up you will be wearing and likely using a laptop instead of your phone since you should get a better quality image with your computer (that also allows you to keep your hands free).
Finally, Paul Snyder from the University Career Center recommends writing handwritten thank you notes. “That will also help add a more personable touch to the interview and help you to be remembered.”
With some planning and practice, you can make that virtual interview feel as comfortable as if you were interviewing in person. Here is some additional reading on remote/virtual interviews:
- Seven Tips for Conducting a Seamless Video Job Interview
- How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview
For more advice and assistance, contact your UofL career center.