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How to ace your virtual interview

By Sophia Lopez, October 8 2020 —

Aside from the busy start to the fall semester, many students are still on the hunt for jobs this year. Due to the pandemic, many of our regular day-to-day experiences and schedules had to change — including interviews.

Virtual interviews can be seen as a life-saver for many students, but a nightmare for others. Joshua Bourdage, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, has some suggestions to follow in order to achieve the best chance of success during virtual interviews — whether they’re synchronous or asynchronous.

Bourdage, who’s area of research includes job interviews, discusses how sitting in front of a camera and talking can cause many people to feel anxious, but that if enough time and effort is put into the preparation for the interview, then that anxiety level can be reduced.

“There’s a lot of other considerations, it’s not just about showing up on time,” said Bourdage. “Ideally you should just try to be very organized.”

Being prepared beforehand, such as making sure your camera and microphone are working or practicing with a friend, is crucial in setting a good impression. Paying attention to the little details in turn will allow people to feel more relaxed when it’s time for the interview.

Many companies have started distancing themselves away from asking “basic” questions, such as “What are your strengths?” or “Describe yourself in three words.”

Bourdage mentions that “you’re more likely these days, particularly as students, to encounter behavioural questions.” These questions, he says, can consist of describing how you acted in a stressful situation or different environments. So, it’s key to look back at your past experiences in order to be ready for those types of questions, and “really making sure you have a good understanding of what your strengths are relevant to the job,” he adds.

With many interviews taking place online, it can often be difficult to have the same connection with the interviewer and be just as integrated while looking at a camera, whether it’s a live or recorded interview. Treating the camera as a person is a very critical part of the interview. “It’s still a social interaction, so regardless of whether someone is watching that video later or they’re interacting with you in real time they’re looking for the same thing, those non verbal things, the smiling, the nodding, the eye contact,” Bourdage explains. “They’re still trying to get to know you as a person”

Also touching on the idea of being authentic, Bourdage suggests to stay away from a “fake it until you make it” mentality during an interview, and how it’s not a good idea if you want to get a job. He makes it clear that the most important thing to do is to focus on what you can truly bring to the company in the position you’re applying for.

“Probably the best thing you can do is what’s called ‘honest impression management,’ which is actually putting in the leg work to figure out what are the ways that you genuinely fit with the company and with the job,” He explains.

Overall, although stresses and busy life schedules can get in the way of people feeling ready for an interview, it’s important to realize that having virtual interviews is still something everyone is getting used to. By preparing well in advance, including seeking others for help and staying authentic, students can expect a greater chance of a successful virtual interview. 

For more information on how to do well during virtual interviews, visit UCalgary News.

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