Getting through a digital interview for the first time may be intimidating. As you prepare for yours, you may find yourself with a few too many questions, and not enough answers. For instance, ‘What should I expect?’, ‘How do I prepare for it?’, ‘How do I present the best version of myself?’ If these are questions you’ve been worrying about, here are a few tips to smoothen your journey.
Before you appear for your interview, spend enough time exploring your university of interest. Identify the official website and delve into their resources! Take a look at faculty profiles, academic curriculums, ongoing research projects, the general student community, and their endeavors. Official websites make for credible sources of information but may appear impersonal on account of academia-specific content. Therefore, to mimic an insider’s understanding of the university culture, engage with past, present, and potential students (such as yourself) on online forums. If you wish to go the extra mile, look up blogs written by university alumni, follow threads that discuss its many facets, or get in touch with a graduate. Remember, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have on the inner workings of the university, the more likely is your triumph!
Like theatre, music, or spoken word poetry, your digital interview is a performance. It requires practice and most importantly, your commitment. Prepare a script for mock questions and answers. The topics it covers should vary in difficulty and include those questions that you presently don’t have a satisfying response to. Once you’ve perfected your monologue, stand in front of a mirror and practice until you rid yourself of stutters, extra words, long pauses, and scattered responses. By the end of a good practice session, your answers should sound spontaneous and confident as opposed to robotic and pre-planned. Your expressions, tone of voice, gestures, and body language should be formal, yet calm and relaxed. At every point, make sure to match your behavior to your speech in a way that is appropriate and expressive of your emotions. It may seem strange at first, but maintain eye contact with yourself even if the sessions feel artificial. Once you’re confident of your presentation, upgrade the performance! Practice in front of a family member, a friend, or record yourself on the camera.
Now that you’ve perfected the content of your speech, it’s time to pay attention to the logistics. A good digital interview is a combination of numerous factors, both personal and environmental. To present the best version of yourself, you need to identify a location in your house that compliments you. Pick a spot that is well-lit and free of artificial glares. A space with natural lighting is always a good idea! Distractors (such as honking cars or even phone notifications) have the ability to take away from a good interview. Identify each distractor and eliminate them to ensure a smooth session. The setting of your interview should be neatly organized, tidy, and free of any mess that may make you appear careless and unkempt. Set up your location well in advance and you’re good to go!
Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to play ‘office’? This is your turn! Even though your presence is virtual, your appearance is every bit as important. Ensure that your clothes are ironed, free of stains, and professionally paired. The interviewees are interested to know the real you (even the one who lounges in sleepwear), but they would still like to know if you’re taking this as seriously as they are. Your attire just happens to be one of those cues that communicate this effectively. Groom yourself, sit up straight, and don’t forget to wear a smile!
On many occasions, it is difficult to appear confident if you yourself are unsure of what you bring to the table. A common theme in most college interviews is the need to assert your uniqueness. If you’re finding it challenging to identify the unique skills that set you apart, use the STAR method. Think of a situation (S) where you faced a challenge and the task (T) you were required to execute. Understand your role in the problem-solving process and detail the action (A) you personally took to overcome the challenge. Finally, revisit the results (R) of that experience to see if your methods played a fruitful role. If it did, retrace the exact skills, talents, ideas, and values that helped you acquire those desired results. Many times, we overlook the journey of seeking the destination. As a result, we forget the little skills and strengths that helped us along the way. You have unique traits. Remember that. All you need to do is discover them.
The time you spend preparing for a digital interview is in many ways, a lot more taxing than the interview itself. As such, it’s always a good idea to put down the hero card every once in a while and ask for help. Ask a mentor to guide you, a friend to attend a practice session, or a parent to remind you of your strengths and weaknesses. A little perspective can you take you a long way!