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May 13, 2020 | Sue Gordon, Vice President of Career Connection Center

In the “Age of COVID” nearly all of our interactions are online. Video interviews are not new - employers have been increasingly turning to video interviews as they seek to reduce costs and improve efficiency in recruiting. It is safe to assume that this trend will continue as all employers learn to conduct interviews and meetings online. So, how do you stand out when your first impression is online?

First, set the stage

In a video interview, where you are seated is as important as what you are wearing. Check the following:

  • Ensure your technology is working- if you can test the video conferencing software you’re invited to use, do so well in advance of the meeting.
  • Check your background. Conduct a virtual call with a friend or do a mock interview with an SU Career Advisor. Have them assess your lighting and background. Take a close look at what’s behind you. How is the lighting? Find a better space if you need to. Avoid the following in your background: your bed, liquor bottles, inappropriate posters, clutter. Preferred: blank walls or simple artwork, neat bookshelves.
  • Eliminate/mitigate potential distractions. Lock the cat out of the room. Dogs should be far enough away that your microphone would not pick up barking. Arrange for someone else to supervise young children.
  • If you cannot mitigate potential distractions (any of the above, or perhaps a jackhammer outside your window), explain the situation to your interviewer in advance. It could provide for a bit of humor as you begin the conversation.

Second, prepare yourself

The rules for interview preparation remain the same as in-person interviews:

  • Dress professionally- a suit or professional business attire. Be professional above and below the waistline. You might have to stand up for some reason, and you do not want to become a story of the candidate who stood up and everyone saw your pajama bottoms. A benefit is you will feel and act more professional if you are dressed like a professional.
  • Lay out your resume, cover letter, and a job description so you have them as a reference point during the interview.
  • Research the employer and have a list of questions ready.
  • Have your contact’s email or text/phone number handy in case you can’t connect.
  • Be on time. In a virtual environment, join at the appointed time. They may not be ready for you 10 minutes in advance, and you don’t need to worry about being late due to traffic.

Third, “Keep Calm and Carry On” during the interview

How you manage the interaction during a video interview is almost as important as what you say. Here are some tips to keep your interview or meeting running smoothly:

Turn your camera on. I’ve noticed that students prefer to keep the camera off. Awkward as it may feel, it is important for connection. Whether interviewing or in a meeting, TURN THE CAMERA ON.

If the connection breaks up, or you missed what someone was saying, it’s OK to ask them to repeat. This is common in videoconferencing.

If the connection drops altogether, try to reconnect. Keep calm. It happens. How you handle the stress of a bad connection will influence the interview. It will not be used against you. (Unless of course you tried to do this from a moving car, then you’re toast.) Reconnect, and ask where you were when the call dropped. If you cannot reconnect, email or call your contact immediately.

· Keep your microphone on during an interview; if in a virtual meeting, turn it off when you are not speaking.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, your virtual communications will always be professional. You will stand out from your less prepared peers. Employers will be confident that you are able to adapt and adjust to work in a virtual world, even in a post-COVID age.   

The Career Connection Center is available to help with interview preparation in a virtual environment. Schedule your appointment online, via Handshake. Click on the “Career Center” button.

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