Getting ready for graduation is an exciting time, but it can also add extra pressure to perform at the next level, especially when it comes to interviewing for your future career. Since the 2020 global pandemic, many job interviews and opportunities have become virtual. This means you have another job search skill to pick up or sharpen.
So how can you stand out from behind the screen during an online interview?
Fortunately, going back to school means logging online to engage with teachers and peers in virtual classrooms, not to mention keeping connected with family and friends back home. Staying connected in the months leading to graduation provides more opportunities to practice being present and professional online.
Taking advantage of these regular interactions and recognizing opportunities to answer questions more clearly, connect the dots, and follow up with thoughtful questions takes some of the pressure off of formal practice for job interviews heading toward graduation.
Here are a few ways you can apply everyday experiences as a student to your online interviews skills to become a better interviewee before graduation:
Schedule video calls
Unlike the time it takes to commute physically for a meeting, it only takes a minute to hop into a video call, so there’s little excuse for being late. Get into the habit of taking your call times seriously by making them official and adding them to your schedule or calendar in the same way you would an online interview.
Apply a little pressure to be ready and set up a call ahead of time, even if it’s just to catch up with friends and family. Let them know that it will help you prepare if they are on time for the meeting as well.
Need to reschedule a call time? Create a system to change the call time that is similar to how you will handle it in a professional setting. This will keep you from freezing or stressing when it’s time for the real deal.
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Set up for showtime
Before you hop into a video call, make sure you and your environment are set up for success. After picking out a presentable outfit, (yes, you should practice looking and feeling your best on camera to ensure you appear natural), use the video preview before each call to correct the room’s lighting and clear the background of any clutter. Finally, give your household a heads-up that you’ll be on a call and would appreciate a quiet space for the duration of the conversation.
During your next few online video calls, take note of how others present themselves on camera. By creating these habits for calls with friends and family, you’re less likely to stress or miss a detail when setting up for an online interview.
Practice active listening
Since an interviewer won’t be with you physically during your interview, you must learn to make them feel like they can connect with you through the screen.
Even when you’re just casually chatting with friends and family, be aware of your listening skills and show that you are giving them your full attention. Actions like nodding your head at appropriate times and asking thoughtful follow-up questions can be a great way to demonstrate to the caller that you are fully attentive.
Eye contact is also a powerful way to show you are listening and engaged in the conversation. This can be tricky during an online interview. Looking into your camera to connect with a person virtually takes some practice to feel natural. Pay attention to where your gaze falls during casual conversations. Remember, if you’re looking at your screen, you appear to be looking away from the viewer from their perspective.
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Staying professional, even via Zoom, is an important step to displaying your quality of work in an online interview. An important part of the online interview experience is through written communication. Emails with spelling errors and slang will probably be ignored, but an email that displays professionalism is likely going to get a response.
Communicate with everyone in complete sentences to be sure your grammar and communication skills stay sharp. It’s easy to default to shorthand with friends, but when you message recruiters, it’s important to get your professionalism across through the keyboard.
If you’re not used to communicating properly through writing, it is likely to sound too forced or be too wordy. Learn how to be direct and communicate clearly through writing naturally and professionally, even with friends and family.
As we move into a more digital world, it’s more important than ever to create a professional online presence that displays your capabilities to companies that are hiring. Consistently work on your online interview skills to set yourself up for success once you land your next interview.
The next time you log in for an online zoom interview, you can count on your online interview skills to be sharp enough to help you land your dream job!
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