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As if interviewing weren't already nerve-wracking, especially for college seniors looking for their first "real" job or new college graduates hoping to make the best possible impression in a competitive job market, throw on top of that a lockdown due to a worldwide pandemic and millions of Americans losing their jobs. It might feel like a recipe for disaster.
You may be wondering if your student or new grad has any chance of finding a job right now. I'm here to say that, with the right tools, they undoubtedly will!
The key is preparation and being able to go with the flow during these uncertain times. So let's roll with the punches and get them ready for their socially distanced video interview!
This one is HUGE. For those of us who now have months of Zoom office meetings under our belt, we know that nobody would want to interview someone who's sitting in their kitchen with dishes piled behind them, has a yapping dog in the background, a cat crawling all over the computer, or other housemates walking back and forth during the session.
Whether your student or grad is at home with you, or in a dorm or apartment on their own, encourage them to prepare a quiet, clean and professional space for their interview. Ideally it's an office with a desk and a neutral background, but if this isn't an option, help them find or create a clean and uncluttered area where they will not be disturbed.
In addition to the environment, attire is a vital component of any interview, virtual or not. Your student or graduate should dress for success. Attire may depend on the company they are applying for, so have them research the company’s clothing standards.
Make sure they also know the importance of wearing professional clothing from head to toe. Many people think they only need to dress professionally on the top half, but anything can happen. What if your student or grad needs to stand up, or the computer screen tilts or drops, and their PJ bottoms are front and center?
Whether the video conferencing platform is Zoom, Webex or something else, offer to do a test run with them. Practicing will allow them to experience how a video interview will flow and will be helpful because they can:
Taking care of these fine points ahead of time will be essential to a successful video interview and positive first impression, and your student or grad will be more relaxed knowing they have everything ready to go.
Virtual interviews are convenient and there's no need to account for traffic or driving time, but your student still must prepare for the unexpected.
They may think, "My interview starts at 10 a.m. so I'll log on to the computer at 9:59." NO. Remind them that, just as traffic can snarl unexpectedly and make them late, anything can happen at home. We know all too well that computers/laptops and internet connections are unpredictable. What if the operating system decides to do an update right before the interview, or the internet chooses that moment to go on the blink? By anticipating these complications and leaving lots of extra time, your student or grad can find a workaround or devise a Plan B.
Arriving for an in-person interview a minute late looks bad; logging in to an interview meeting a minute late actually looks even worse.
Think about it from the prospective employer's point of view. They've set aside this time and it is valuable to them. Tardiness communicates a lack of preparation and seriousness.
Ideally, your student or grad should be logging in for their interview 15–20 minutes before the scheduled time. If the interviewer logs in to the meeting early as well, they'll see your smiling student's face, eager and ready to interview! Bonus points.
Interviewing methods may have changed, but your student will still need to do the following regardless of what kind of interview they may have or what job they are searching for.
For more tips and tricks to equip your student before their interview, check out the Graduates' Ultimate Interview Guide free mini-course provided by Interview4Hire and created with your child's success in mind.