With spring internship and job application season coming to a close and summer opportunities opening up it is a great time to sharpen up your resume and put yourself out there. While professional formatting and a well-written application will get you pretty far, good interview skills are what will push you over the finish line and secure the role of your dreams. Though I recently successfully secured a position for myself this spring, in the long run, I know that these are skills that go far beyond one employment – and I am still learning! These tips will help you with virtual interviewing and are still a good rule of thumb for when the world goes back to normal.
It might seem obvious, but, it can never be overstated – do your research on the company, department and person who will be interviewing you. You can look them up on LinkedIn, on the company website or through other public engagements they may be mentioned in. No need to go full-on stalker but, having a sense of the person who will interview you can give you topic ideas for casual conversation and career questions. Having a strong knowledge of the company or department mission, values and trajectory shows your interest – and puts you on the same page as the interviewer.
- “Well, That’s a Good Question”
Have questions ready to go before the interview that shows your attention to detail, ability to think critically and genuine curiosity. A tip that I learned from my mentor was to ask two institutional questions and one personal question. This combination shows that you are curious about the bigger picture, goals and values of the company. Personal questions help to make you more memorable as a candidate, and also serve to give a behind the scenes look at the role.
Some examples could be:
Institutional: What are the Marketing Teams’ core goals heading into the spring?
Institutional: How has ABC Corp. pivoted successfully to a virtual workspace?
Personal: What has been your favorite memory on the job?
Personal: What has been your biggest takeaway from this past year in your position?
- Frame Your Narrative
Ultimately the interview is about you as a person – but that doesn’t mean it needs to be scary. Think back on your life and work experience, look for moments where you made changes, had realizations and took action. For example, maybe you switched your major from English to Data Science after realizing the power of code or maybe you wanted to create a coffee hour club after noticing a lack of community in your dorm. All of these moments tell a story about the kind of person you are and the lengths that you are willing to go to act on your values. While not all of these memories will apply directly to the internship or job in question, by presenting the skills from your life and work experiences as transferable skills, they become relevant. Maybe you created coffee hour fliers using graphics software and shared them on social media via connections you had with popular people or sororities, aiming to get more residents involved in a coffee hour – that’s called engagement and growth strategy!
- Positive Mindset
2020 has been a tough year, and 2021 is certainly off to a tough start. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and like the world is against you. But, with the right attitude, an interview doesn’t need to be one more stressful thing. It’s okay to smile, make small talk and even an occasional (appropriate) joke by just being yourself. It’s important to display your personality because interviewers can’t see you in the room during a virtual meeting. It will come across as confident and self-assured, giving interviewers a sense of your personality and helping you to feel at ease – as opposed to chewing your lips, staying quiet and wishing that the call would end. At the end of the day, you are a unique individual, with talents and passions that would make you an asset to any team – what was meant for you will appear to you as long as you remain open to opportunities.
- Dot Your I’s and Cross Your Ts
Be sure to respond promptly to all emails or messages from interviewers – ideally within one day if the same day isn’t possible. Make sure their messages do not go to spam! When communicating with interviewers use a more formal tone than with friends – but not too stiff. Grammarly is a great resource for spell checking, and be sure to delete “sent from iPhone.” Good communication is the base of any successful virtual internship and shows potential employers that you can be successful in their work environment.