• 5 Tips for Boosting Your Virtual Interview Skills

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    Like everything else during the pandemic, the traditional job interview has been turned upside down as candidates now meet with potential employers online. So how can you crush your virtual interview in this new digital world? 

    During the YO Program at AAO 2020 Virtual, I provided attendees with tips for everything from setting up your interview space to wearing the right attire.

    YOs, don’t forget that it’s not too late to still attend AAO 2020 Virtual. Go to www.aao.org/2020 to log in — you’ll have access to all video presentations through 2021.

    1. Optimize your space

    However you set up your home office, the two most important aspects of your space are the background and lighting. A non-distracting, straightforward background is key. Lighting is everything. You always want a good amount of light coming from the front so that it lights up your face. This can be achieved by a ring light or by sitting in front of a window. There are many types of lights available for purchase online — be sure to read reviews for the best ones given your circumstances.

    Pro tip: Ditch overly staged, virtual backgrounds for real backgrounds, and think about the time of day: If you’re utilizing a window for light and your interview starts around sunset, you might have a glaring, bright light distorting your face.

    2. Optimize your tech

    Getting your technology together is also a key element of your virtual interview. T Consider getting a webcam. They can be found online — or if you already have a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) or home photography camera, many versions double as a webcam via downloadable plugins. 

    Pro tip: Prepare for a strong internet connection, but always have a backup plan if you have technical difficulties. This includes getting phone numbers from your interview contacts in advance in case something happens to the connection. 

    3. Optimize your presentation

    We’ve all seen Zoom debacles posted on the internet, so we know that presenting ourselves professionally is of the utmost importance. Check your hair and makeup before your interview. Optimize your camera angle. Make sure children and pets are out of the room. This might seem obvious, but be fully dressed from head to toe with professional pants and shoes. 

    Pro tip: Don’t wear red or white — some colors in these spectrums come across as fuzzy during virtual meetings. 

    4. Optimize your practice

    One of the great things about virtual interviews is that you have the opportunity to practice, practice, practice all the steps you’ll take before and after you sign on. That means practicing silencing your phone, turning off notifications, and making sure you are muted to begin the interview. You can also record a mock interview with yourself and watch yourself answering a few expected questions. This will help you practice looking at the camera, maintaining good body language and rehearsing your responses. 

    Pro tip: Mark your camera with a Post-it note to remind yourself to look at that spot during the interview, rather than directly at your screen.

    5. Optimize your preparation

    One thing that people forget is that in a virtual setting, conversations may not flow as naturally — so it may be difficult to showcase your real personality. Be prepared with lots of extra questions as well as a number of professional anecdotes to share about yourself. 

    Pro tip: Treat it just like a regular interview. It’s okay to take notes, and it’s okay to look down. Just be natural. 

    Don’t forget that your peers are in the same boat! Crowdsource your social media channels to find out what’s working (and what’s not) as your colleagues navigate the virtual interview. 


    READ MORE. To learn more about how to give your videoconferencing a boost, be sure to check out EyeNet’s “Lights, Webcamera, Action … How to Videoconference Like a Pro.”

    About the author: Andrea Tooley, MD, is an oculoplastic specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and is also a member of the Academy’s YO Committee.