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Zoom is the center of our new normal — the place where we have class, virtual cocktail hours, birthday celebrations and, yes, even hold interviews. Virtual interviews have grown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but don’t panic! Zoom interviews don’t have to be as scary as they seem. Here are some DOs and DON’TS to nail your next dream internship or job interview! 

DO Prepare and Practice

Nothing could be worse than logging onto your interview and realizing your screen is blurry, your wifi is spotty and your pile of laundry is noticeable in the background. Oh, just kidding, it would be worse if you assumed your interview was on Zoom only to realize 5 minutes before your meeting that it’s actually on Microsoft teams and you have yet to make an account. Regardless, SO much could go wrong in the world of virtual interviews, which is why it’s so important to do a full practice run. Set up a meeting just for yourself a few days before your real interview and record yourself going through answering some common questions. Even better, get a friend to log onto the call from the other side of the screen and make sure they can hear you! It’s always great practice! 

DON’T Wear your Pajamas (I see those fuzzy socks….)

Ah yes, the beauty of wearing your fuzzy cookie monster PJs with your fitted blazer — an interview dream! Wrong! All I can say is, if you want the part, you have to dress the part. This means top AND bottom. Though you may think “they can’t see me, why would I put on pants?,” psychology points to the fact that if you dress to impress, you will feel more confident and ready to tackle any questions they throw your way. Don’t be scared to add some personality to your outfit! Solid bright colors are the way to go. They stand out just like you will! 

DO Set up Your Space

It’s so important to set the scene for your interview. First, you want to ensure you will have a quiet space on the day of the interview. Among roommates making smoothies or your little sister performing in a virtual talent show one room over, finding a quiet WFH spot is a challenge, but talking to your housemates and family members ahead of time will ease the pressure on interview day. Next, make sure you have a clean background with no embarrassing objects or posters. (I know, you are in your childhood bedroom that you had to paint turquoise because it was SO COOL but you need to find something a bit more presentable. Try a clean white wall.) Step three is to set up a clean workspace. After all, you WILL most likely be working from home, so make sure you fit the part! Pick a table or desk in front of a window or invest in a ring light to ensure your lighting is on point and you don’t look washed out! 

DON’T Read Off Your Computer Screen

I know it’s tempting to recite your perfectly crafted “explain a time when you failed” answer but stay away. It’s easy to tell when someone is reading off a screen and the last thing you want is for you to come off unprofessional and impersonal. So, smile and answer honestly. Don’t act any differently than you would if you were in person. And while we are on this topic of professionalism, there’s nothing worse than forgetting to make eye contact! Though you may feel obligated to lock eyes with those of your interviewers on the screen, this is a no-go! You have to look at your camera. This is the hardest part of the process for me, but reminding myself with a “look here” note next to my camera to draw my eyes up is how I go about this.

DO Log on Early

It’s always important to be early for an interview. Though I wouldn’t suggest 20 minutes early, as you would for an in-person interview, I recommend logging on about 10 minutes early to make sure you are there when your interviewer arrives. This shows you are prompt and eager, and you don’t have to go about commuting through rush hour traffic after all! 

DON’T be Afraid to ask Questions

Asking questions is essential in any interview, but especially virtual ones. Ask questions about what obstacles they have faced due to COVID-19, how they have pivoted and how your role has changed due to the current state of the world. Having questions ready shows you are prepared, invested and curious about the job, which helps you stand out! 

Interviews always cause stress, but on top of a pandemic, it can definitely get overwhelming. I hope these Dos and Don’ts help you remain the confident applicant you are! You got this! 

Julia Karten

Northwestern '23

Julia is a Northwestern sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, studying journalism, political science, and psychology. In her free time, she loves to bake, dance, spend time outdoors with friends, keep up with the latest breaking and pop culture news, and drink lots of iced coffee!
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