So, you landed the interview. Congrats! After you get over the initial excitement and come back down from cloud 9, you might start to feel a little anxious. Whether it’s for your dream internship, your first full-time job, or any position you’re passionate about, meeting with someone via Zoom to decide your future is an intimidating notion. However, with the right tools under your belt, it doesn’t have to be! To boost your confidence during this stressful process, I’ve developed a fool-proof outline of how to be on your A-game during your next virtual interview. Let’s jump right in!
1. Do Your Homework
Being a diligent student extends far beyond just the classroom! This is not groundbreaking advice by any stretch of the imagination, but interview preparation is truly the first step for success. This includes, but is not limited to: researching the company & company culture, becoming a near-expert on the company’s service or product, finding more details about the salary & position, and critically reflecting on common interview questions. Treat this preparation like a really important project for a class you absolutely love. If you do this, your passion and efforts will 100% shine through on the big day.
2. Open Up a Document & Write Away
Your recruiter will almost certainly ask you behavioral and situational questions to learn more about your personal hardships and accomplishments. Trust me, it’s hard to come up with these on the spot, so you’ll want to come prepared. In the weeks leading up to your interview, create a Google Doc. Every time you think of a personal memory that illustrates how hard of a worker you are, or how deeply team-oriented you can be… jot the scenario down in as much detail as you can remember! By the time your interview rolls around, you will have a masterlist of deeply personal anecdotes that illustrate your strongest traits. Once you have your examples prepared, use the STAR method to help formulate and perfect your responses. You’ll be golden.
Why stop there? Use this document to continually jot down other important items, such as your greatest weaknesses & strengths, your “tell me a bit about yourself” statement, and responses to other common interview questions. What’s so great about it is, once you have this document started, you can refer back to it as a resource for future interviews and applications!
3. Get the Most Out of Your Resources
As students, we have amazing resources at our disposal, just waiting to be used. So, use them! TCNJ has an excellent career center with plenty of resources available to students, including mock interviews and the Big Interview. This virtual program offers high quality coaching, professional advice, and practice tools for students to use at any time. My favorite feature is their “Answer Builder”, which helps students formulate the perfect anecdotal responses to behavioral interview questions. The internet also has wonderful free resources, such as YouTube virtual interview simulators. These videos are extremely low stake and low commitment ways to practice responding to common questions, and force you to be concise with your answers. They are great if you don’t have time to schedule a more immersive mock interview, or just want to start dipping your toes in the world of interview prep.
4. Come Prepared With Thoughtful Questions
At the end of any interview, you’ll usually get asked something along the lines of: “Do you have any questions for me?”. Though it may be tempting to say “None at all!” to prove how cool, calm, and collected you are, this might reflect poorly on your part. Recruiters like to see curiosity, as this translates to a sense of engagement and deep motivation to be a part of the company. My advice is to come prepared with at least three questions to ask at the end of your interview, just in case. My go-to is, “What kind of person do you see thrive in this role?”, but you can find more wonderful examples here.
5. Your Physical Space Should Reflect Confidence & Calmness
It goes without saying that your surroundings should be uncluttered, quiet, and professional. Your physical environment can tell a recruiter a lot about your personality, and you definitely want it to say something good! With this being said, you have all of the control of how you are perceived in this situation, so take ownership of it. Take your time to set up your camera angle in a way that flatters you. If necessary, rearrange your background to look more chic and organized. Don’t settle when it comes to your lighting–– play around with your options until you find what works best. Set your laptop on a stable, wobble-proof surface. If you take this time to meticulously arrange your physical space, you will feel 100x more self-assured during your interview. On camera, this will reflect as coolheaded poise, which is exactly what you want!
6. Practice By Talking to Yourself in Zoom
I know, it sounds weird–– but believe me, it works! On the day of your interview, create a Zoom meeting with just you and chat away. Recite your best anecdotes, pretend to respond to questions, pay attention to how your body language shows up on camera… anything that helps you get in the groove. It’ll force you to be comfortable talking about yourself, and by the time you have to attend your real Zoom call, you’ll be desensitized. I recommend doing this for at least 30 minutes on the day of your interview, as it really gets you in a talkative mood.
7. Make Eye Contact with Your Camera
Being remote makes it a lot more difficult to remember that the person interviewing you is, in fact, a real person. Forcing yourself to look into your camera is a great way to bring a semblance of humanity back to the interview process, as it’s the closest thing to eye contact you’ll get. This will show your interviewer that (1) you aren’t simply ogling at yourself in your Zoom screen, (2) you are working hard in adapting to our virtual circumstances, and (3) you can sharply focus your attention during professional encounters, even from home. Win, win, and win!
8. …But Also Be Attentive to Your Interviewer’s Communicative Cues
When you’re physically in a room with someone, it’s much easier to read their body language and understand social cues. Being virtual makes this one million times more confusing. During the times when you’re not making eye contact with your camera, focus on what your interviewer is nonverbally communicating to you. Do they seem irritated or bored? Are they signaling that you are speaking too fast? Inversely–– do they seem impressed by your response? Are they signaling that your response was delightful, and they want to hear you go on?
Keep up with your interviewer’s communicative cues to know how you are performing, and adjust accordingly.