3 Tips to Ace Virtual Interviews
Since 2020, most MBA programs have hosted their interview process virtually. Video interviewing, while efficient, comes with its own set of challenges and etiquette.
Judith Silverman Hodara, director at Fortuna Admissions and former acting director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School, recently offered a few tips on how applicants can best prepare for virtual interviews and insight into how applicants can succeed in the virtual environment.
BE PROFESSIONAL, BUT ALSO AUTHENTIC
Most B-schools will expect a level of professionalism in the interview setting. And when it comes to dress code, Hodara says, business casual should be the baseline.
“As illogical as it may feel to suit up for a call in your living room, you will rarely feel awkwardly OVER dressed – but you may end up feeling awkwardly UNDER dressed,” Karen Hamou, an MBA admissions coach with Fortuna Admissions, writes. “That said, the interview is a search for authenticity, so if wearing a tie would bother you to the point of distraction, go with your gut.”
OPTIMIZE SOUND & LIGHTING
One barrier to virtual communication is often outside noise. Hodara recommends seeking out a quiet space and using earphones to improve sound.
“Your voice should be clear and easy to hear while speaking at a normal pitch and volume,” Hodara writes. “Make sure your computer settings are updated – Zoom, for example, makes frequent changes that require updating to function optimally. Test that your microphone is working properly and computer settings are updated for audio. And by all means, make sure the link works before you attempt to open it at the time of the call.”
In addition to sound, you’ll want to make sure that your interview environment has optimal lighting.
“Switch on all the lights in the room, face daylight, and if possible, get a lamp that shines directly in your face,” Stephen Carroll, a journalist and broadcaster, says in a video for Chicago Booth Review. “Your face is a huge tool for communication, and you want the people you’re speaking to be able to see you.”
MAINTAIN STRONG BODY LANGUAGE
While it may not seem important in the virtual setting, body language still plays a critical role in video interviews.
“Make a conscious effort to look straight at the camera lens instead of the computer screen,” Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes. “That’s the only way to appear like you’re maintaining eye contact.”
Consistent eye contact, while unnatural in a video call setting, takes practice, Hodara says.
“As you practice, inventory your visual rapport – from your posture and expression down to your breathing, gestures and energy,” Hodara writes. “Don’t forget to smile: When you enjoy yourself, it shines through and makes a connection with the viewer (you’re on camera, after all). You can also choose to turn off self-view which can help to make you less self-conscious.”
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