The COVID-19 pandemic has made online interviews a common thing. Check out five tips on how to prepare for an online interview. Photo by Misha Mosiichuk.
As students are graduating college and entering the workforce, they are faced with a new challenge caused by COVID-19 — a new era of Zoom communication. Interviews are starting to be held via video call, and as we all know, that can be awkward, to say the least.
Zoom interviews can be successful, and as times are changing more companies may be favoring this kind of interview in the future.
Shane Blocker, assistant director of Career Services, said, “For organizations, it makes way more sense in a financial perspective to do a Zoom interview; … it happened before, it’s just much more prevalent now, and I don’t see it as something that’s going to go away.”
Here are a few tips and tricks to help master online interviews from DSU’s seasoned professionals at the Career Services Center:
Prepare technology beforehand
First and foremost, have your technology prepared. It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but if you don’t know your tech is going to work, you might have failed the interview before it even started.
“[Be prepared] with all the technology, which is making sure you’ve practiced in the exact setting you’re going to be in,” Career Coach Gina Gottfredson said. “Does the mic work, does the technology work, does the camera look good, is the lighting OK?”
It’s not only about if your laptop connects to Zoom, it’s about the quality that you present yourself.
“Here at the university, we have interview rooms that students can borrow and use, [and] we have all the equipment that they can use,” Gottfredson said.
If you think you might need better quality technology to give the best impression, make sure to ask for help at the Career Center. It might even be helpful to go a day early so you can practice first, Gottfredson said.
Practice makes perfect
Speaking of practice, the next thing you should keep in mind is that you can practice exactly what you’re going to do in the interview. Whether you ask a friend or a family member for help, practicing first will help make sure you are ready for the real deal.
There are two types of questions you’ll be asked in an interview.
“One is technical knowledge, [and] the other type is behavioral interview questions,” Blocker said. “Your ability to answer those questions takes practice; you can’t just say one-word answers and expect to give them a qualified candidate.”
Technical knowledge is being able to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities on a specific task in your job.
Blocker’s example was, “If you’re a nursing student, here’s a patient demonstrating these types of symptoms; what is your approach to that situation?”
Behavioral interview questions are testing your soft skills, and they focus on you as the candidate.
“Tell us about a time when you had to approach a difficult situation or when you had a team project,” Blocker said.
You want to practice questions and answers that will be relevant to the job. Practice answering them with stories and strong, impactful statements that will help you in the long run. Monster has a list of 100 example interview questions.
Dress to impress
If you go into an in-person interview, you’ll want to look your best. The same goes for an online interview. Just because they can’t see you below the shoulders doesn’t mean it’s not important to dress the part.
You want to dress professionally and appropriately because the interviewer needs to be able to see you’re taking this job opportunity seriously.
If you don’t have any professional clothes and need help getting some, Career Services has a “Career Closet” available to students.
“We have clothes that have been donated,” Career Coach Rochelle Blatter said. “They are professional career attire, so if students need some attire for these interviews, they can just come take some.”
You don’t have to buy or return items from the Career Closet, which means you’ll have the perfect look that most employers are searching for.
Keep your surroundings simple
Along with physical appearances, your interviewer is also looking at your surroundings. This may not seem important since they’re basing their decision off your answers, not what your room looks like. While that may be true, anything distracting behind you is going to take away from what you’re saying and end up impacting your interview.
“A blank wall is actually really good, something that doesn’t move or distract,” Gottfredson said.
An aspect of your surroundings is also how you are acting in them. You don’t want to appear awkward in the area, so make sure you’re somewhere comfortable yet presentable, and that you have good posture in front of the camera.
“Also, make sure not to sit too close or too far,” Gottfredson said. “You wouldn’t sit in someone’s lap in an interview, but you also wouldn’t sit across the room either.”
Sit somewhere you can have your notes with no distractions, make sure that camera angle is right, and always try to keep eye contact even if it’s eye contact on a computer, Gottfredson said.
Be prepared for everything
The final tip is to be prepared. Similar to practice, this is just going to make sure you know what you’re getting into when you start that interview.
“They’re going to ask you if you know what they are about, [so] make sure you know what their goals are as an organization,” Blocker said. “Make sure you know what you are applying for. I’ve had people I’ve interviewed for positions who ask what they’re interviewing for, and I go, ‘Um, this job that you’re definitely not going to get right now.’”
You want to show that you are invested in their company and can tell them exactly why you are the perfect fit.
For any help preparing for interviews, the Career Center has plenty of resources, such as coaching you personally on how to interview and online resources that can interview you and show you what’s right and wrong.
For more information on what the Career Center can offer you, check out its website.