By Erin Andersen (MSM ’17), Career Transition Coach & LinkedIn Coach, Owner & Founder of Your Brand Networker, LCC
You’re in the final moments before you leave your house for an interview – THE interview. The uncomfortable dress shoes that give you blisters are quickly pulled out from your closet, convincing yourself that you only have to wear them for an hour. Your outfit was specifically chosen for your interview – a muted color suit because that is what is “expected.” Now all you can think about is getting home and changing. PJs sounds heavenly right about now, don’t they?
You take a final look in the mirror before hopping into your car and driving off to the people that will somewhat determine the next few years of your life (or more). It’s been a stressful morning and now you have to commute to this place you submitted your application to. It’s difficult to concentrate while you are sifting through the “file folders” in your brain, trying to remember how this job differed from the million others you applied to.
Remember this, circa 2019 and before? These days, preparing for an interview might look like sporting your flannel PJs on the bottom and a blazer on the top. Although interviewing can occur in the comfort of your own home, there seems to be an increase in nervousness and imposter syndrome. Intimidation…fear…a sense of uneasiness. If you’re feeling any of these on virtual interview days, here are a few tips to gain confidence:
Virtual confidence shouldn’t be an expectation. It is not natural for us to have to solely express ourselves and engage others without body language. How will the interviewer get a good idea of our comfort level? How do we appear excited? Here’s how I want you to shift your mindset: Identify the best ways for you to be unique among the applicant pool. How can you ensure that no matter whom your competition is, that you will shine just as though you would in-person? This is where storytelling comes in. Carefully begin your interview by setting the scene – you only have a few seconds to capture their long-term attention with how you are going to tell your story. Most importantly, making yourself appear intriguing.
Determining company culture from your living room – Don’t ever forget that you are also interviewing the company. For in-person interviews, I would remind you to ask the company for an office tour. Now that it’s virtual, ask if you can receive a virtual tour. You likely wouldn’t rent/buy a house before seeing it, why would you allow the interviewees to not show you the place you will potentially spend 40+ hours in? This tour will shine light on company demographics and office culture.
Being memorable over a computer screen isn’t easy. In fact, if we are supposed to wear a suit, how can we expect our interviewers to fully remember us? I would encourage you to wear a brighter color rather than a neutral to make a good camera experience online. Think about the colors that best compliment your complexion, the position you are applying to and your own personality. Second, choose a neutral background – avoid any distracting accessories or people. Third, if you’re going to be doing a lot of interviewing, purchase a ring light to ensure you are camera ready with adequate lighting to look your best!
If you don’t want to be the candidate that is simply another resume thrown in the fire, it would be wise to network virtually. Reach out to alumni that are also employees of the company you are interviewing at. They will likely always be willing to share their experience and the strategic points they believe would enhance your chances of landing the job.
Virtual interviews will likely continue even as some companies return to their offices. Hiring employees in other cities has opened up the talent pool and expanded company searches. Before your virtual interview, remind yourself that you were chosen because you have the criteria the company was searching for. Now, go rock that interview!
Looking to connect with Erin for more career advice and LinkedIn coaching? You can find her here: