Acing Zoom Interviews

PHOTO BY NATASHA O’NEILL / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Future employees have been told the first thing to do during a job interview is to shake the employer’s hand. 

 

With the rise of remote work also comes remote interviews—how do we shake hands virtually? 

 

This is just one of the many unknowns to online interview etiquette. 

 

Students who are looking to fulfil their co-op credits or secure a summer job feel lost. 

 

Many students on our campus, such as UX design and social work students, rely on placements to fulfil credits and complete their education. 

 

One of these students is Hailey Richardson, a fourth-year social work student at Laurier Brantford. 

 

Richardson was in the midst of her placement March 2020 when the global pandemic occurred. 

 

As a result, her placement was cut short and was not what she expected. 

 

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to my clients, which was disappointing,” Richardson said.

 

One silver lining was that the Social Work Department reduced the number of required hours from 360 to 270.

 

Richardson also found her placement to be unsatisfactory and that she missed out in many ways. 

 

“I feel like I missed out in many ways […] I was not able to work face to face with other social workers and it was difficult for me to know what to do when I was not working with clients,” said Richardson.

 

In addition to experiences, Richardson thinks that she missed out on a lot of networking opportunities. Many students have been able to secure remote placements but due to the unpredictability of COVID-19.  

 

Unexpected layoffs are also a huge worry for some students because of what happened in December. Last December many placements came to an abrupt end when the government announced a second lockdown, December 2020. 

 

This uncertainty surrounding the workforce currently has caused many students to put off their work term till the Spring semester or fourth year. 

 

When it comes to work terms, co-op, placements or summer jobs, students feel anxious about securing a position.

 

The co-op department advises that students apply to all available jobs and also do their own independent work search to increase their chances. 

 

The co-op department recognizes that many businesses are financially struggling right now and might not be able to hire students.

 

However, students are advised to remind prospective employers of the Ontario Co-operative Education Tax Credit that the government offers businesses that hire students for co-op or other similar work terms. 

 

“We find that for interviews that traditionally involve technical questions, white-boarding or problem solving, these can still take place in a remote environment through file-sharing like Google Docs or screen sharing,” said Tim Stedman, the co-op manager at Laurier Brantford.

 

It is advised that students know how to use Zoom functions such as annotate and are ready to screen share anytime during the interview. 

 

Aliaa Sidawi, a Laurier Brantford Career Centre advisor, said to always check your audio, internet and camera are working before your interview. 

 

“A great way to test the audio or connection is to get a friend or family member to call, Zoom, Teams or Skype with you,” said Sidawi, “do you need to talk louder or softer so the mic picks your voice up or are you cutting out in a certain location?”  

 

The Career Centres advises students to always turn on their camera and to ensure there is nothing distracting or inappropriate in the background. 

 

Most students primarily use their bedroom for private calls but try not to show your bed as it can look unprofessional. Ensure there is good lighting that shines onto your face not from behind, and that no direct sunlight shines onto your camera or there might be a glare or shadows. 

 

The Centre also advises students to inform their roommates or family members to not disturb them during interview hours. 

 

Dress in proper business attire, make sure your outfit does not match your wall and avoid neon colours or highly patterned clothing as they will appear distracting on the camera.

 

At the beginning of the interview be sure to find out who is going to call back should the call be dropped unexpectedly—this might score some extra points for showing initiative.  

 

If the call does drop, do not show any frustration. Just reconnect and continue with the

interview. 

 

A Career Centre representative said, “before you go live, stand up with your arms up as you’ve just won a marathon, breathe deeply and tell yourself that your ready and can do this, I am excited about this chance and my racing heart and sweaty palms means my body is preparing me to meet this challenge.” 

 

This mantra will help your mind and body get ready and will help you transform stress into positive energy.

 

Online interviews might not be ideal for most students but with these interview tips from both the co-op and career department, students are equipped to make the best out of this situation.

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