September 23, 2020 | , ,

All Things Virtual: Your Guide to Navigating Virtual Career Fairs, Interviews, and Everything in Between

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Guest-written by Tiffani Donaldson-Berry, M.Ed., of Work Week Wonders

Let’s explore some tips to navigating our new, virtual world!

4 Nuances of Virtual Interviewing

We are in a “new” world. Everything, literally everything, is virtual and we can’t escape it. Virtual interviewing and virtual career fairs are not new concepts, yet for many new job seekers, it is unfamiliar. There are many nuances that you should be cognizant of.

1. Managing Your Environment

Ensure you are in a quiet space at the time of your virtual interview. Will your roommates be home? Will your sibling have their friends over at that time? To guarantee you are in a quiet space, you can communicate with your household that you have a virtual interview at a specific time and day, and cannot be disturbed. You can also post a sign on the door of the room you will be in as a reminder. This will limit unnecessary distractions and disruptions while you are interviewing. 

Additionally, be aware of the room you select for your interview and your internet connection. Is the background busy with pictures? Is it a plain wall? Do you have enough lighting? Is the area neat and clean? Does your internet freeze up during video calls? An option is to utilize the virtual background selections on the platform where the interview is taking place. You can also do a test run a week before your interview with a friend so you can see if your location and internet connection are ideal. 

2. Self-Awareness

As you are participating in the virtual interview, ensure that you are aware of your body language. Are you making eye contact with the interviewer? Are you making hand gestures, but your hands are out of the view of the camera? Are you making faces as the interviewer is speaking?

To make eye contact with your interviewer, you must look into the computer camera instead of the screen. It can be awkward, but it ensures that you are looking at them during the interview. If you communicate using your hands a lot, but your computer is not angled to show your hands, the interviewer will miss that crucial part of your communication style.

Test the angle of your camera before the interview. You also want to be aware of your facial expressions. Something in your environment may cause you to make a strange facial expression. If this occurs, communicate with the interviewer so they know it is not a reaction to something they mentioned.

3. Time Management

Your virtual interview will have a start and end time.

Be cognizant of how much time you are spending on each question. The interviewers have a specific number of questions that they plan on asking you. Ensure that your answers are clear and concise by preparing with a mock virtual interview. During your interview, you may need a moment to think about an answer. If so, communicate that to the interviewer so they are aware that you have heard their question and are taking some time to provide an answer. 

4. Potential Barriers

In addition to the tips above, virtual interviewing can present potential barriers such as video fatigue, freezing on camera, and the use of mute buttons—just to name a few.

Video fatigue can occur when you have too many video calls scheduled in a short period of time. Instead, manage your time by have a 30-minute window before and after the interview to prepare and rest. Secondly, becoming frozen on camera can be the result of a poor internet connection. It can lead to missed questions, a miscommunication in your answers, or dropping from the call entirely. To avoid this, check your internet connection prior to the interview.

Lastly, mute buttons are a powerful tool in a virtual setting. Use the mute button when you are not speaking so you can clearly hear the interviewer and remember to take yourself off of mute when you are ready to answer any questions. 

#QuickTips: Campus Philly’s Advice

The chat feature of any virtual networking or recruiting event is your best friend. We mean it. If you’re asking yourself: “What should I say to an employer?”, we’ve got you covered with these three quick tips.

1. Come prepped with a short “About Me” paragraph. You can copy and paste your paragraph into the chat with the employer or recruiter as an introduction to who you are, what you’re interested in, and why you want to learn more or join the company.

2. Keep it short and simple. Each chat lasts about 10 minutes, and you want to take advantage of that time. Use short sentences, not paragraphs, when answering or asking questions, allowing time for the other person to read and respond.

3. Write out your answers to common questions in advance. Type out a few responses to common questions and save them in a Word Doc, so you can easily copy and paste into the chat. Think questions like: “Tell me about yourself” or “Why are you interested in working for our company?”

5 Tips to Use During Your Next Virtual Career Fair

Campus Philly’s upcoming career events this fall semester are great places to use your new skills!

Here are a few Work Week Wonders tips to help you succeed.

1. Networking

During your time at the virtual career fair, be sure to maximize your time and network!

You want to connect with as many companies as possible for visibility and options. Previewing the schedule of the virtual career fair ahead of time will allow you to create a plan of action so you can target certain companies to talk to and learn about. You should also prepare questions to ask your targeted companies to get the most out of your conversation. 

2. Time Management

In conjunction with networking, you want to ensure you have a plan of how long you are speaking with each company. This will prevent video fatigue, if you choose to use your camera, for yourself, but you will leverage being able to have access to so many companies during a short period of time.

3. Communication

During your next virtual career event, make certain that you ask questions for clarification, summarize what you have heard, pay attention to nonverbal cues, and provide clear and concise answers.

4. Confidence

Remember your strengths and be confident! Prior to your next virtual event, write down your areas of development and your strengths. This will help you articulate your strengths while speaking with various companies. Ultimately, you want to turn your strengths into how you can prove to be a valuable asset to your potential employer.

5. Emotional Intelligence

Career fairs typically are a source of stress for most attendees. When you are feeling that your emotions are surging in one direction or another, use your Emotional Intelligence skills to be more self-aware and think about how this may impact your potential new relationship with an employer.

Instead of letting your emotions get the best of you, be cognizant of how you behave in stressful situations, what impacts your stress levels, and have a plan for yourself when this occurs. This allows you to have control over your emotions and regulate yourself during the career fair. 

Get to Know Tiffani

I am a Philadelphia native and this is an amazing place filled with many opportunities! I was educated at Central High School, West Chester University, and Temple University, so the Philadelphia area is near and dear to my heart.

I encourage young people to grow and stay here because there are things to do every day, from dining out, to the art scene, or even shopping! I love working and living here because it is a town where everyone knows each other. You can network with so many different people in different industries and find your calling through various unique opportunities. 

I currently lead a training and consulting department from 9 to 5 for a local training firm while running my own business, Work Week Wonders. Work Week Wonders is a training firm dedicated to developing and supporting youth via career readiness workshops and individual coaching. We primarily focus on educating youth about communication skills, resume development, mock interviews, goal setting, and time management. We aim to proactively prepare youth for the ever-changing working world so you can obtain employment, secure internships, and become productive citizens of society. 

Additionally, I have a decade of experience in talent development. I have worked in several industries such as retail, consulting, staffing, and social services to provide them with guidance on recruiting, retaining, and developing talent. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from West Chester University and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from Temple University.

To contact Work Week Wonders for individual coaching on the topics of resume development, mock virtual interviews, communication skills, goal setting, or time management, please email: info@workweekwonders.com or visit www.WorkWeekWonders.com for more information.

Please follow us on Instagram and connect with us on LinkedIn!

Our “new” world hasn’t been easy for anyone, especially job seekers. Things are changing rapidly and companies are adapting as fast as they can.

Virtual interviewing will most likely become a part of the normal interviewing process going forward. Practice the tips above, articulate your skills and value to the company and remember, you can do this! 

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