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Finding Confidence for a Virtual Job Interview (or Faking It)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

This summer, I worked for Kode with Klossy, an incredible organization founded by supermodel Karlie Kloss that teaches young women to code through an intensive and empowering computer science program. Throughout the weeks of camp, Kode with Klossy brought in speakers–various accomplished women in a myriad of impressive careers–to divulge their industry knowledge to us. One of my favorite takeaways that was echoed multiple times from different women, was the notion that everyone is “faking it” in their careers. Reese Witherspoon, one of my all time inspirations, said to us on a Zoom call with Karlie: “Nobody really knows what they’re doing. We’re all just a work in progress”. While it may sound cynical to claim everyone is a fraud, I frame this idea as more of a commentary on our limitless potential to evolve in our careers. We don’t know what we are doing, yet we’re constantly navigating through the uncertainty and making discoveries along the way. To hear that even Reese Witherspoon feels self doubt, reminds me that insecurity is commonplace.


Our evolution in this sense strongly resonates with me, because it normalizes being unsure. As college undergraduates at a competitive university, we often feel pressure to be the best in the room. The toxic culture of perfectionism manifests into our own self doubt. If I’m really a computer scientist, shouldn’t I be able to easily answer this coding problem? If I’m really a finance student, why am I struggling to respond to this interview question? In reality, even the most successful leaders in any field have gaps in their knowledge. Our career paths will rarely be laid out clearly for us.


The summer internship recruitment process is daunting. As a woman in the field of software engineering, I’m intimidated not only by how early the process begins in the school year, but also the difficulty of the technical coding questions often asked in interviews. Whether you are applying for a job in business, engineering, communications, theatre, or more, there are some important tips to keep in mind for how to rock your virtual interview.


1. Apply for the Job




You may have heard the statistic from the Hewlett Packard internal report that’s constantly referenced when discussing the gender discrepancy in interviewing: men will apply to a job they meet sixty percent of the qualifications for, while women will only apply if they meet one hundred percent of those same qualifications. Why is it as women, that we doubt ourselves before we have even begun the process? This leads me into my first piece of advice: apply for the job.  In fact, apply for LOTS of jobs. The underrated beauty of starting out your career is that you are beginning at the bottom, so the only direction to move is up. Especially in a virtual setting, it’s now even more imperative to put yourself out there. Sign up for Handshake, JumpStart, LinkedIn, and all of the job recruiting sites and begin by just browsing the listings. You are more qualified than you think, and if you let this notion that you are underqualified drag you down, you will lose the game before you even start to play. This year, I tried to challenge that statistic by specifically applying for internships I thought were above me. I started an excel spreadsheet with companies I found on these various job sites and from the career fair, and made a tracker for the applications I sent out. Keeping yourself organized from the start will set you off on the right foot.


2. Set Your Scene


Emily Hart Photography



You have landed your first interview. but you’re now faced with a new challenge, something we’re all too familiar with as of late–Zoom. It was hard enough sparking a great conversation with recruiters in an in-person setting, and video interviews only seem to augment that awkward disconnect. Yet Zoom can be used to our advantage in some ways. First, set your scene. Put on your favorite professional shirt, organize your desk area, and maybe even consider wearing sweats or your favorite fuzzy socks to ease your nerves. You are working from home, and it’s okay to let your space be home. This is an advantage you get from virtual interviewing. A corporate office setting is cold and impersonal, while your home space can be your own. Setting  your scene in a way that comforts you– whether that entails dressing up in your best outfit, or putting on a candle across the room and wearing pajama bottoms–is the another step in building that self confidence. 


3. Become a Storyteller



    It’s an endless struggle: in order to get experience, you need a job, but in order to get a job, you need experience. One of my biggest anxieties while interviewing is constantly feeling underqualified or underprepared, which as discussed, is a common experience for most women. Become a storyteller. Your interviewer wants to have a conversation with you to learn about you, and recognizes that you may not have had formal job experience. Instead of focusing on your technical shortcomings, reflect on how you can express that you love to learn and have a strong desire to grow, as these are equally important qualifications. Brainstorm some experiences beforehand from academic settings, previous volunteer and work, or school clubs, that would lead to an interesting conversation. 


4. Purpose and Intent is Key




Purpose and intent is key. Virtual interviews lack some of the natural flow of conversation we get in person. Therefore, finding confidence comes in the flow of your story. It’s super easy to get tripped up or lost in your thought, but if you can do anything to improve your answers to interview questions, it’s making sure that your responses to questions are complete. Even if you don’t feel confident in your answer to a question, when you concisely conclude your point, you will appear much more organized. After all, sometimes it’s about the appearances and the way you fake it more than how you really feel or the insecurities you may carry. There have been numerous times where I started answering a question with one story, but realized I hated my answer halfway through. It didn’t matter in the end because I aimed to never show my regret, but rather follow through with every point I started. 


5. It’s Okay to Fake It Until You Make It




Finally, remind yourself that it’s okay to fake it until you make it. Before every virtual interview, I love putting on my favorite Beyonce song, “Love on Top”, and having a dance party in my room (yet another silver lining to work from home). It may be a silly tradition, but it reminds me not to take myself too seriously, and helps me build that positive energy and create a genuine smile right before I shift into a professional mindset.  I never truly understood the power of vocalizing my goals and ambitions until I began to incorporate it into my routine. With every interview that you enter manifesting your own success, you will leave feeling more confident and more assured. Don’t get me wrong, confidence is not easy; it falters and it fails you. But you can always build it up again. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and use each rejection as a springboard to another incredible opportunity. So turn on your Zoom, and get hired. Karlie Kloss said it best: “If you believe in yourself and feel confident in yourself, you can do anything. I really believe that.”


Maya Uradnik

U Mich '22

Maya Uradnik is from the Seattle area, and currently attends University of Michigan as a Computer Science major with a minor in music. When she is not writing, she enjoys programming, singing in her a cappella group, and working as a Starbucks barista. She loves the HerCampus community and the opportunities it provides for collegiate women.
I am a Junior in LSA at the University of Michigan, majoring in Biology, Health and Society and minoring in English. I'm pre-med and hope to become a surgeon one day. I'm extremely passionate about health, literature, and social justice. Also, I add raisins to everything. It's concerning.