Acing The Online Interview
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
Covid-19 brought with it a lot of ancillary activities – the sourdough avalanche, the zoom meeting plague, and the miserable optimism of the term ‘new normal’. While the pandemic granted us MBA2s the status of being the pioneers of the virtual internship, the incoming batch will now have the mantle of those having gone through virtual summers. This land of virtual everything may seem bleak, but it is certainly navigable with the right mind-set.
The virtual summers is the new beast, and the following pieces of advice would help you conquer it; summers advice from the physical era still hold the ground:
Make sure you have a nice quiet spot in which to give the interview. If there are others around, let them know about the scheduled interview, and ask them to please not disturb you while the interview is on. The campus equivalent to this used to be the ‘DND, interview’ notes we would see pasted on doors. Put up a note at home as well if you have to, but try and avoid any possible disturbance during the call.
Another good idea would be to make sure that you have turned off the ringer on your phone and changed your laptop settings to disallow pop ups while on a call - keeping the virtual distractions at bay is important as well.
Lights, Camera, ..
While this is another one of those obvious pieces of advice - do a test run of all your technology beforehand. This would include sundry gadgets: your laptop/ tablet, your earphones & mic., your router and anything else you plan to use. Make sure everything is up and running to avoid any last-minute gaffes.
Also ensure you sit in a place with sufficient light so that you are clearly visible while on the call. Try and keep the camera near eye level so you don’t end up awkwardly looking up or down at the interviewer. Try and look into the camera to create some semblance of eye contact and keep your device on a stable surface before you. Despite the device’s name, nobody needs the distracting movement that comes with a laptop placed in your lap.
Dress for the job you want
Per the popular saying, even though the interview is virtual, there would be no reason to wear your best. Please avoid the temptation of keeping your pyjama bottoms, not only will you feel more alert and confident, risking sharing your love for SpongeBob through your nightwear is just not worth it – maybe they like the adorable sponge who lives under the sea, maybe they found the title track very annoying – why risk it?
If not using a virtual background, try and sit somewhere that is not your bed. Not only will this help with aesthetics, it will also keep you from feeling sluggish midway.
Share a little
While speaking to some people who were interviewed virtually for various organisations, one of the most interesting ‘tips’ I came across was a simple yet unobvious one: keep the interviewer with you, let them know when something is going on. It is hard enough to maintain engagement in a video call, so, if there is something going on which could cause you to be distracted from the conversation let the interviewer know. For instance, if you need to do some quick calculations to answer a question – just say ‘may I have a minute to work that out please’. An incident that stood out was an interviewee mentioning that he had a monkey show up in the window next to him during an interview. To explain his startled reaction, he went on to turn the laptop around to show the interviewer the animal. (he got in, so I am assuming the interview went well). But, ideally, try to sit in a monkey (and other animal, pet or otherwise) free zone.
You need your stuff
Make sure you are prepared well in time with all the things you could need for the interview within an arm’s reach. A good starter kit should include: a pen (having more than one pen would be a good idea), a scratch pad, a glass of water and a napkin or handkerchief (in case you sneeze or sweat – always good to come prepared and look prepared as well)
Keep Calm & Carry On
It is just an interview, so make sure not to stress over it too much. With the excessive exposure to zoom calls and social media interaction that we have been having of late, it is possible that a virtual interview (or just an interview, period) may trigger some anxiety. Remember, that is only inevitable, and you have access to all the help you need. Do not hesitate to reach out to a friend, batchmate or senior if you need to talk. Before the interview, try taking some deep breaths – meditate if you feel like it. It is important to ensure you are in a good head space when you have the interview.
Even though we are not there to see it happen this time, ~Letthelakesoverflow.
All the best for your summers, batch of ’22!