In the Med School Tutors ERAS 2021 Summit, we covered a lot of ground, and in particular, we focused on how you can set yourself up for success on your virtual interviews from a technical standpoint.
If you missed the summit, or are looking for a recap, you're in luck! We've summarized some of the major points from the Virtual Interview segment and also have included the summit recording for you (skip ahead to 01:22:00 for the Virtual Interview portion).
Let's dive in!
Start with the basics: lighting, background, sound and body language.
Lighting: You want to be well-lit without harsh shadows on your face. Don't be an international person of mystery! And especially work to ensure your interviewers can see your eyes.
Background: Aim to sit in front of a plain, non-distracting background. You want to be the center of focus, not a TV or cat chasing its tail in the background.
Sound: When in doubt, wear headphones for the clearest audio. Try to sit in a quiet room, and be sure to turn off anything that beeps or pings on your computer or phone prior to the interview. (Beware: AirPods run out of juice usually after about an hour and bluetooth headphones can sometimes glitch in and out of connection. Do a practice run with these items before your interview!)
Body Language: Look at yourself using your FaceTime camera or other built-in camera on your computer PRIOR to your interview. Does the framing show you from just above the top of your head to just below your shoulders? Is your video camera at or just above your eye level?
The goal is to communicate receptiveness and openness with your body, so sit squarely facing the computer, try to keep fidgeting to a minimum, and definitely don't cross your arms or lean on the table, as that can read like you're defensive, tired or disinterested.
And remember: Practice active listening! Provide visual cues showing that you're engaged and listening — such as smiling and nodding occasionally.
Worried about your internet connection?
- Ask any roommates or co-habitants to stay OFFLINE while you do your interview.
- If you have the option to, turn off your WiFi and plug directly into your router for the greatest internet strength.
- Can't plug into your router, position yourself and your computer as close as you can get to it for the best signal strength.
- Spotty internet in general? Consider upgrading 2-4 weeks in advance of your interview if possible.
Virtual Interview Dos:
- Be early! Early is on time, and on time is late
- Rehearse any major talking points prior — especially addressing red flags
- Practice "eye contact" by looking directly into the camera
- Have a backup plan in place in case your computer glitches
- Consider turning off the "self view" but DON'T turn off your camera entirely
- Use your senses to drop into your body if you're feeling nervous
- Feel the weight of your chair supporting your legs and body
- Feel your feet on the ground
- Feel the weight of your arms
- Place your hands on your abdomen below your belly button, slowly breathe into that area, and feel the rise and fall as you do
- Tell yourself you deserve to be here, that you're capable, that you would be a terrific addition to the team.
- Be polished & fully clothed as if you were walking into an interview room — it makes a difference!
Virtual Interview Don'ts:
- Just use overhead lighting — that gives you hard shadows under your brow, nose and lips
- Position your video feed off to the side of the screen or on another monitor
- Multitask! Now is NOT the time to do many things at once. Give your interviewers your FULL attention.
- Rehearse to the point of sounding like a recording
- Use negative self talk. You are NOT an imposter. You have worked SO HARD to get to this point.
- Wear thin pinstripes — they strobe on camera