The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how many organizations do business, including how they interview prospective employees. In the coming weeks, co-op students may find themselves completing interviews via online platforms such as Zoom and Skype. Of course, introducing technology into the interview process can create some unique challenges. We’ve asked the Mount’s Coordinator of Career Services Kyla Friel to share some of her top tips on how to ace an online interview from home during this time of social distancing.

Special considerations to keep in mind for online interviews:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to set up. Log-in or download the employer’s preferred meeting software and try it out a day or two in advance so you feel comfortable navigating the platform during your interview (a mock video call with a friend is a great way to test this). Make sure to double check details such as the date and appointment slot as well to ensure are logged in and available at the correct time (use this handy Time Zone Converter tool to confirm any time differences if you and your interviewer are located in separate provinces). Set up your laptop or phone in a quiet, well lit space free with a neutral background such as a blank wall or bookshelf, and be sure to have your charging cords and a headset or earbuds with a built-in microphone handy. There’s nothing worse than losing power or audio partway through a video call!

2. Don’t forget to dress the part. Even if your interview will be audio only, you should still dress professionally as it helps you get in the right mindset prior to your chat. Your favourite t-shirt and sweatpants might be super comfy, but wearing them to an online interview can make you appear unprepared and uninterested in the job. Choose a business casual outfit that is professional with a pattern or design that is not too loud or distracting. You want to stand out for the right reasons during your video call.

3. Be mindful of your body language. Nonverbal cues are especially important to consider in an online interview. Do your best to look directly into your camera rather than the screen. Smile and nod along when the employer is speaking to demonstrate you are listening. Make sure to silence electronics so that you will not be distracted or interrupted by notification alerts. There’s no need for a last-minute fresh breath check, so leave the mints, candies, and gum in the drawer. Above all, avoid slouching on the couch or your bed. Instead, find a desk or table where you can set up your laptop or phone in a handsfree manner, and sit up straight in a sturdy chair. Be mindful of your tone of voice and try to avoid shouting or speaking too quietly.

4. Prepare a Plan B. It seems to be an unofficial law of the universe that your Wi-Fi is most likely to go down right when you need it the most. Despite your best efforts to prepare, technology can still refuse to cooperate during an online interview. It’s a good idea to offer your cell number when your interview is confirmed so that an employer can continue the conversation by phone if needed.

Interview prep appointments still available

“Of course, all the regular tips for acing your interview apply too,” Kyla says. “Don’t forget to research the company ahead of time, practice your answers to common questions, and come up with some thoughtful questions to ask your interviewers at the end of your call.” Students can also access some top tips on interview preparation on the Co-op Moodle site and the People of Mount Co-op blog.

While the Co-op Team is working remotely until the Mount campus reopens, we are still happy to conduct interview prep appointments with you over Skype. You can contact co-op@msvu.ca to book an online appointment with one of our coordinators once you receive notice of an upcoming interview.