The pandemic and the need for social distancing has changed the ways scholarship interviews are being conducted. With in-person interviews being out of the question, scholarship interviews are now being conducted virtually using video technology. These interviews follow the style of traditional in-person interviews but there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. These tips will help you master your next virtual scholarship interview.
Test Your Technology in Advance
Virtual interviews rely heavily on technology. Everything must be working properly for a successful session. Testing your tech will help to prevent potential glitches. And don’t wait till a few days before the interview to do this. Put this on your ‘To-Do’ list as soon as you’ve set the date for your virtual interview.
Use this as your checklist for testing your technology:
- Establish a strong internet connection. If possible, make arrangements for a second connection. This will act as a backup in case of any connectivity issues on the day of the interview.
- Perform an audio and visual check to confirm that your microphone and camera are working properly.
- Make a note of the computer’s audio and visual setting that gives the best results.
Testing your technology is important even if you’re used to video-chatting with family and friends. We don’t really pay much attention to minor hiccups during casual chats. But those same glitches can cause major disruptions during your scholarship interview.
Create a Distraction-Free Environment
Our homes are not set up for interviews. When you’re home, you have to deal with a slew of distractions, from everyday household noises to the sounds of traffic. All of these can be distracting and can cause you to lose your focus.
Here are some things you can do to create a distraction-free environment that more conducive to a successful interview:
- Inform all family members about the scheduled time for your interview.
- Set up your computer so you are against a blank background. This keeps the attention on you.
- If your room is dark and you need to keep a light on, pay attention to the placement of your lighting.
- Close the windows to eliminate all road noises.
- Close your room door to muffle noises from inside the home.
- Turn off your cell phone. There’s nothing more distracting than receiving a phone call or even a text midway through the interview.
- Clear away all visible clutter and tidy up your surroundings. You want to appear organized.
Even you’re doing the interview from your home, you don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed. Hoodies and sweat pants are out, as are overpowering patterns, tees, and flashy jewelry. It’s important to dress as if you’re going for an in-person interview. You want to convey your professionalism and dressing smartly is one way to do this. Wear smart casual attire and pay attention to grooming.
Use Post-It Notes to Jot Down Talking Points
It’s not unusual to get nervous and forget what you wanted to say. Jotting down talking points on Post-it notes and placing them on the edge of your computer screen can help. It’s far better than clicking around or shuffling papers looking for your notes.
Do A Few Mock Virtual Interviews & Record Them
Doing a few mock virtual scholarship interviews helps in many ways, especially if you record the sessions. Playing back the recording can give you valuable insight on your set up as well as your performance. Was the audio clear or muffled? Was the visual clear or grainy? What about your body language? Were you sitting up straight or did you slouch throughout? Were you looking directly at the camera and the interviews or were you looking around the room? Did anything look out of place in the background? Did you speak clearly, articulating every word or did you rush through your replies?
Make notes of what you can improve on. For example, looking around the room gives the idea that you’re distracted or uninterested. Practice looking directly at the camera and maintaining eye contact so your interviewer knows you’re interested and engaged. Mock interviews are a great way to practice and feel more comfortable.
A Few Do’s And Don’ts For a Successful Virtual Scholarship Interview
- Do treat this like a formal in-person interview.
- Don’t use your gamer/social username for the interview – keep it formal.
- Do set up your video chat and be prepared well before the scheduled time.
- Don’t use a computer that you’re not familiar with.
- Do take care to eliminate all distractions during the interview.
- Don’t be overly casual when chatting with your interviewer.
- Do maintain eye contact with the camera.
- Don’t use slang or abusive language.
- Do prepare your answers as you would for a traditional interview.
Last but not least, don’t panic if something unexpected happens midway through the interview. If something does go wrong, send the interviewer a message as soon as you can, explain what happened, and ask if you can reschedule. Most often than not, they will oblige.