With A-round job postings and interview requests now over, most students on the fall/winter co-op cycle are starting to think ahead to interview time. Interviewing for co-ops, especially your first one, can be an intimidating task. However, due to COVID-19, we may have to adjust to a new style of interviews this upcoming co-op season. Zoom is the medium almost all Drexel students use for daily classes and project/homework meet-ups, but it may also be the resource employers use to conduct interviews this time around. I have spent quite a bit of time looking into the major differences between in-person and virtual interviews, and I have compiled a list of the best tips I can offer you all as we transition to this new style of interviewing!
Like all interviews, maintaining appropriate business attire is just as important in-person as it is online. We may have gotten used to the sweatpants lifestyle during this time. However, it is important to treat Zoom interviews with the same amount of class and respect as we do when we interview in-person.
Along with your own appearance, your setting is something to keep in mind as well. While most of our interviews won’t take place for another two to three weeks, start to think about the best place in your apartment or home for the interview to take place. Ideally, you should sit in a quiet place with a lot of natural light (or good lighting in general). It also helps the interviewer if you sit against a blank background, such as a plain wall. That way, they are able to see you clearly and aren’t distracted by your surroundings.
Maintaining good eye contact is key. However, when you’re on video chat it may become difficult. I tend to always look at the person onscreen as I’m talking, rather than the little webcam at the top of my computer screen. This leads the person on the other end to think my eyes are half closed. It’s definitely something you have to be conscious of, but take time to look up at the webcam and practice directing your speech there instead of the person in the screen.
Now that you look the part and are situated in the perfect location, let’s move onto to preparing for the interview. Here are things to keep in mind during the video call.
Make sure you are prepared way before the start of the interview. Have all your papers or notes gathered, so that you aren’t shuffling through folders or accidentally forgetting something important.
It’s always a good idea to have a copy of your current resume with you, either in print or pulled up in a tab on your computer. That way, you always have it for reference purposes and can guide the interviewer through the page when you want to highlight your skills, past experiences or what you’ve been working on in classes.
It’s always a little more stressful using technology for situations that easier done face-to-face. With that in mind, make sure to speak loud and clear. Sometimes the audio from your device doesn’t always pick up everything you say, especially when you mumble or trail off at the end of a sentence. Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask your interviewer if they are able to hear and see you properly to ensure everything is running smoothly on their end as well.
Co-op 101 stresses the importance of making a personal connection with the interviewer to show them your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the company and the position you’re interviewing for. Trying to force a connection is awkward on its own, but it can become even more difficult through Zoom. The best way to show interest in the company is to ask questions. This can be prepared for ahead of time, too! Prior to your interview, take some time to research the company and position in depth to help formulate some questions or topics you may want to discuss during the interview. Also, take into consideration the current situation and how COVID-19 may affect your day-to-day routine at work. This is the perfect opportunity to ask what is expected of you as a co-op student during this time, and whether it involves and special requirements, such as work-from-home or a socially-distanced work environment.
Interviewing is stressful on its own, but it’s important to remember that we are all going through this together. Despite the circumstances, it can be done successfully if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the new process of a virtual interview style.