by Daijha Thompson

March 10, 2021

Job and internship interviews were already nerve wracking—now try adding in the stress of a pandemic and all of the challenges that come with the virtual world of work. According to Zenefits, of the 62% of hiring managers who indicated having conducted a job interview during the COVID-19 pandemic, 88% confirmed those interviews were virtual, while 12% of hiring managers maintained a cadence of traditional in-person interviews instead.

When I interviewed for my internship, I did it virtually, and I felt far more nervous than I would have been in an in-person setting. I relied so heavily on the in-person environment to help me feel comfortable showcasing my personality, which left me worried that I wouldn’t be able to bring my authentic self to a virtual interview. What I learned during my interview—that translated well in my internship work—is that you can be yourself whether you are sitting in an office with your colleagues or behind a screen.

Interested in an internship at D&E? Click here to apply for our upcoming internship opportunity.

As I finish my second internship at D&E, I have been able to reflect on the things I did to make sure I made an impact during my initial interview. Here are six things to consider ahead of an interview to walk away feeling confident:

1. Do your research. This has been a rule since before the pandemic but matters now more than ever. Look at the website, check out the organization’s social media, Google them for any placements in the news. Doing your research helps you understand who you will be talking to during the interview which will help you feel more comfortable. Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So, come prepared for the interview by doing your research.

2. Always come with at least one question. This question could be about the remote working environment, work culture, job expectations or compensation. Having a good question prepared shows that you’ve done your research about the organization. I typically ask questions about topics that cannot be easily answered by the company website, such as company culture and day-to-day workload.

3. Appearances still matter, just differently. Although you may be Skyping or Zooming into your interview, you still want to maintain a certain level of professionalism— dress as if you were going into the physical office for the interview. Remember, appearances aren’t confined to just your clothing anymore. Making sure your background is clean and your face is well lit is just as important. If it is not possible to find a clean background, you can also opt to use a custom background.

4. Test the technology. We have all been in a meeting where someone’s camera doesn’t work, you can’t hear the speaker, or the presentation won’t load—a nightmare scenario during an interview. Test the meeting platform you will use for the interview about 10-15 minutes beforehand to ensure that everything is working. Remember, punctuality still matters in the virtual environment.

5. Email your resume ahead of time. To stop the spread of COVID-19, we are skipping the handshake that would inevitably lead to you handing your resume to your interviewer. Consider emailing your resume to your interviewer the night before or morning of the interview so they can pull it up if they need it during the meeting.

6. Be yourself. This is the most important rule of interviewing. You want to showcase your skills and talents, but also stay true to who you are. Ultimately, you want to convey to the employer “if you hire me, you’ll get these specific benefits” which is great, but you also want to showcase your personality and values. I like to wear bright red, my power color, to interviews because it helps me feel confident, makes me stand out and ultimately, helps me put my best foot forward.

Interviews can be daunting and doing them from behind a screen does not make the process any easier. As long as you can still demonstrate your preparedness and qualification to do the work, you’ll have no problem nailing the interview.

Interested in learning how to handle a virtual internship? Check out my colleague Kayla Pretzer’s blog on internship success in the remote environment.

Are you (or someone you know) interested in an internship at D&E? Click here to apply for our summer internship now.