How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview

Follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

There’s no question that for many job-seekers, interviewing is the most intimidating part of the process. But what if you could do it from the comfort of home? For many employers, virtual interviewing is the future—whether you live far away or need to interview remotely for another reason, video conferencing is an easy fix that many companies utilize when meeting candidates “face to face.” 

While video interviewing doesn’t allow for some tried-and-true methods for making a good impression, like giving a firm handshake, there are many ways to wow your potential boss from behind a screen. Simply follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills. 

Prepare in advance 

Be sure to do your research on the employer ahead of time! Log into Handshake and check out their profile, read reviews from peers who’ve worked or interned there, and scope out recent news coverage of the organization for developments. The better equipped you are to ask thoughtful questions, the smoother your conversation will go throughout the interview.

Also use this time to review your resume and the job description, and consider how your past experience might help you exceed in the role. Having this information fresh in your mind will help you feel more confident during the video call.

Show up on time 

This is one of the easiest ways to start things off on the right foot: show up on time! While you don’t need to log on 15-minutes early like you would when arriving for an in-office interview, definitely enter the video chat promptly at the set start time. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, make sure that you’ve got the correct software loaded (if necessary), and consider a test call with a trusted friend to work out any kinks in your connection.  

Dress for success, even remotely

Make sure that you look polished and professional — at least up top. (The beauty of video calls is that nobody will know if you wear sweatpants with your Oxford shirt and tie!) Consider a button-up shirt or blouse, and be sure to groom just as thoughtfully as you would for an in-person meeting. Not only will this help you make a great impression with your interviewer, but wearing clothes that make you feel confident will also help you get your head in the game!

Think about your background

You probably wouldn’t invite your future boss over to your house if it were strewn with socks, right? So don’t let them see that on video! Find a clean, quiet area of your living space where you can take the call. Be sure to speak with any housemates in advance to ensure that nobody will walk behind you or make loud noises while you’re in the middle of discussing your professional strengths and weaknesses.    

Make “eye contact” with the camera

If it helps, consider putting some googly eyes next to your webcam to remind you to look directly at it throughout the call. This gives the appearance of making eye contact, not distractedly staring at your screen! Making eye contact, even if through a laptop, helps foster a sense of genuine connection and attentiveness; it can make all the difference when trying to hit it off with your interviewer. 

Stay focused and visibly engaged 

One way to show your interviewer that you’re motivated and engaged is by practicing active listening. Consider nodding your head to give affirmations of understanding while they talk, and asking clarifying questions when necessary. Also, take hand-written notes! Keep a notebook nearby so that you can jot down questions or key takeaways from the interview without having to disrupt the flow of the conversation with loud typing.

Don’t rely on a cheat sheet, but be prepared

If relevant, be prepared to share your portfolio or examples of work to your interviewer; keep some tabs at the ready and offer to share your screen if the topic comes up. Also, come to the interview with questions that you’d like to ask your interviewer. This shows initiative and genuine interest. (You can find some good examples for interview questions here.)

Remember to stay responsive after you wave goodbye

After you end your call, be sure not to “ghost” your interviewer. Download the Handshake app to ensure that you respond to recruiter messages promptly, and check your email at least twice per day to stay abreast of any outreach or next steps that might land in your inbox!

With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll have all the keys to succeed in your video interview. Now all you have to do is find the right opportunity! Check out this helpful advice for finding a job or internship online, and discover ways to make the most of a remote internship once you’ve got an offer. 

3 Ways Storytelling Can Enhance Your Interview

Whenever we meet someone new, we’re actively engaged in storytelling. We start by introducing ourselves and, depending on whom we’re meeting, cater our story to that particular audience. This can become tricky when we’re engaging with potential employers; what should we include in our stories, and what types of stories do employers want to hear?

Storytelling in interviews doesn’t simply mean providing a storybook narrative for all of your answers. Employers are looking for specific types of stories, and these can vary depending on the type of question being asked. Below we’ve identified three specific ways in which storytelling can enhance your interview, while highlighting the specific ways employers prefer these stories to be told.

Resume Questions

When an employer brings you in for an interview, it means you’ve submitted a strong resume. Since a resume is often what gets you through the door, the employer will most definitely have questions about the content in the document. Therefore, it’s essential that you can tell a story about everything on your resume, including those volunteer and extracurricular experiences you may have only been involved with for a few months (or days, or hours).

It’s essential that you can tell a story about everything on your resume, including those volunteer and extracurricular experiences…

This doesn’t mean that you have to prepare a story with a beginning, middle and end for everything on your resume. It means being prepared to justify the inclusion of everything on your resume, since we can’t anticipate what an employer will want to know more about. If you choose to include a list of relevant courses on your resume, you should be prepared to talk more about each of those courses in case an employer has a question about a specific one. For example, an employer may ask: “I see on your resume that you took a course called ‘Advertising & Society.’ What was that class about?” Take some time to review everything on your resume so that, if an employer asks a question about something, you can answer more thoughtfully than “I thought it would make me look good!”

Behavioral Interview Questions

One of the most common types of questions you’ll encounter in interviews are behavioral questions, which are designed to understand how you’ve handled a particular scenario in a previous role. These questions are popular with employers, as one of the strongest indicators of a candidate’s future performance in a position comes from understanding how they handled similar situations in the past. Behavioral questions require you to tell a specific story from a past job, class or extracurricular experience, but employers are looking for a specific structure to this story. Specifically, you should answer these questions by touching on four key areas: the situation, the task, the action, and the result. Together, these make up a formula best remembered as the acronym STAR. Let’s break this down with an example.

Behavioral Question: “Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer?”

  • Situation — Set the scene for the employer (e.g. Where were you working when you addressed this angry customer, and why was he/she upset?)
  • Task — The goal you set to accomplish in this situation (e.g. To diffuse the situation and ensure the customer leaves satisfied.)
  • Action — The transferable skills you implemented to achieve the task and address the situation. (e.g. Listening, communication and conflict resolution skills would make sense here.)
  • Result — The happy ending to your story! (e.g. “After implementing the above skills, the customer was pleased and left satisfied.”)

Following the STAR formula when answering behavioral interview questions will ensure that you are not only telling a complete story, but that you are telling a story that includes the key points an employer wants to hear.

Situational Interview Questions

There’s some confusion about what the difference is between behavioral and situational questions, and it can be best described as the following: while behavioral questions put a spotlight on how’ve handled scenarios in the past, situational questions are concerned with how you would hypothetically handle scenarios in the future, particularly those that pertain to the specific position you’re applying for. Examples of situational questions include “How would you sell our product to a resistant customer?” and “What strategies might you implement to increase our followers on Instagram?”

…behavioral questions put a spotlight on how you’ve handled scenarios in the past, situational questions are concerned with how you would hypothetically handle scenarios in the future…

In answering these questions, you don’t want to simply say you would do “x, y, and z.” It helps to provide some context for why you would respond in this particular way. Maybe you tried something similar in the past that proved successful (e.g. “In my previous job I would do x when I encountered resistant customers, and it was very successful. Here’s how I might implement something similar with your clients…”). Maybe you’ve conducted research about the industry that could influence your answer (e.g. “I read in Advertising Age that x strategy has been very effective in increasing social media followers. Here’s how I might implement something similar with your Instagram page…”). Ultimately, situational questions are great opportunities to share your ideas for how you would succeed in the role you’re applying for, and doing so by telling a story based on your own (or other’s) experiences will help drive these answers home.

Additional Resources for Interview Success

It can take practice to feel comfortable with storytelling in interviews, but the Career Center has a number of ways to help! You can meet with your career advisor to learn more about interviewing tips, or take part in a practice interview with an alumnus through our Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) program. We also have a terrific interview prep tool called InterviewStream where you can practice answering common behavioral and situational questions. Take advantage of one or all of the resources to ensure that you are telling the types of stories employers want to hear!

How to Negotiate Job Offers Like a Pro

So you’ve just had a successful job interview, and it looks like an offer will be forthcoming. You’re excited to finally have the opportunity to work in the field that you’ve been studying for the past four years. As you prepare to receive your first job offer, what are the types of things you should be considering?

Before You Walk in the Door

The first thing you should do prior to even walking in the door for an interview is to know what you’re worth. Do your research. Having access to as much information as possible will put you in a stronger position to negotiate. Sites like Salary, Payscale, Glassdoor, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics can give you a detailed breakdown of the average starting salary for the position you are interviewing for while taking into account a wide variety of other factors, including location, certifications, and education level.

Talk to the people you know who work at the company or in the industry. ASK is a great resource that can connect you with DePaul alumni working in your field of study. Have a firm idea of what you are worth before you even schedule your first interview.

Conduct a Self-Assessment

As a fresh grad, you may be wondering if you even have the right to negotiate a job offer. This is where a self-assessment can come in handy. Ask yourself: What can you offer this employer that other candidates cannot? Do you have any certifications? Are you intimately familiar with their products or services because you’ve worked for one of their customers in the past? Are the skills you obtained in school unique to the location of the employer? If you have a sense of your value in the marketplace you will have the confidence to negotiate successfully.

If you have a sense of your value in the marketplace you will have the confidence to negotiate successfully.

Find out what’s important to the company; ask the hiring manager what he or she considers the most urgent business needs. If you really want to impress your future employer, type up a plan for what you believe you can accomplish in the first 90 days and hand it to them. This can increase your value immensely and can be used as leverage if you decide to negotiate.

When to Start Negotiating

Remember to hold off the salary discussion for as long as possible. Your job is to make them fall in love with you throughout the interview process, so that when you do get to the offer stage, they’re already feeling like they can’t live without you.

When the employer does ask your salary requirements, you should first try to deflect and tell them that your larger concerns are things like job stability, growth opportunities, and culture fit. If they continue to press, avoid giving a specific number. Instead, give them a range and reference your source (i.e. one of the websites listed above) so they know you aren’t pulling those numbers from thin air. Be comfortable with an offer anywhere in that range, and make sure you have a bottom line number that you’re willing to accept. 

The Whole Package

There are many things to take into account when negotiating other than just your base salary. You want to look at the entire compensation package, which includes your benefits. Benefits can comprise insurance, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, stock options, relocation expenses, professional membership fees, gym memberships, flexible work options, and unpaid leave time.

Some or all of these things may be negotiable, but as a fresh grad, you may want to focus on things that will allow you to be a better performer. For example, it may not necessarily be wise to try to ask for more vacation time up front; you haven’t necessarily earned that yet. Instead, you may want to ask for a new laptop or smartphone if you know you’ll be working outside of the office. Remember, you want to backup whatever you ask for with a reason for why you think you need or deserve it.

Now, just because you can negotiate your job offer doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Some industries are also more conducive to salary negotiation than others. For example, highly structured sectors like the government or military will not have negotiable salaries.

If you’ve received what you perceive to be a fair offer at a company that has a clear path for advancement and where you will be working on projects that excite you, it’s ok to accept the offer as is. However, even if you plan to do this, it’s always wise to give yourself at least 24 hours to review the offer and talk about it with a family member or trusted advisor. No legitimate company will force you to give your acceptance on the spot. You should take that time granted to you to really make sure this is an offer you’re happy with.

…it’s always wise to give yourself at least 24 hours to review the offer…

If you would like to speak in detail about how to negotiate your own job offer, be sure to schedule an appointment with your career advisor!

10 Tips for Job Search Success

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

In the midst of searching for a job or internship that feeds your passions and interests? Or, perhaps you’ve already found a killer opportunity and are now journeying through the interview process. No matter what stage you’re at in the job search, you’ll want to have these ten tips under your belt.

Honesty is the best policy

Be real with employers. This includes being honest on your online profile, resume and cover letter. Upholding integrity is integral during the interviewing and job offer process.

Adulting, and conducting yourself professionally

Be prompt for interviews, dress professionally and come prepared. Preparation is key, so research the organization in advance and prepare questions for the interviewer.

Where the magic happens vs. your comfort zone

Networking gets a bad rap. The truth is, people want to help you; professionals are ready to talk to you about their industry or job, and are willing to build a relationship with you and eventually allow you to tap into their connections, you just need to speak up and make a move. Step outside of your comfort zone, call a new contact, network, ask questions and for help—you’ll not only come out of it alive, you may just end up with a new career opportunity.

Give your oh-so-wonderful references a heads-up

Reach out to potential reference candidates, catch up and kindly ask them if they would be willing to attest to your qualifications and act as a reference during your job search. Never provide the contact information of your references—or potential referenceswithout chatting with those individuals first; Get a confirmation that they are willing to be a reference and update them on your job search and applications.

It’s the 21st century—Brush up on your video interview skills

You may find that employers will request an initial screening interview through Skype or a Google Hangout. Improve your knowledge of video tools and presentation techniques beforehand by visiting with your career advisor. And, if you’re wondering what not to do in a video interview, enjoy this clip.

Don’t feel obligated to accept all interviews or second interviews

If you are not interested in accepting an interview or continuing on in the process, always inform the employer as soon as possible, thanking them for their time. On the other hand, continue on in the interview process if you want to learn more about an opportunity. If there are a number of aspects of the job that you like, continuing the process can help you make an informed decision.

Ask for more time to make a decision, you’re allowed

If you have reservations about an internship or job offer, or are actively interviewing with other companies, know that it is OK to contact an employer to see if you can be given more time to make a decision.

Red flag: Don’t apply for jobs once you have accepted an offer

If the employer sees that you are pursuing other opportunities after accepting his/her offer, you can risk your reputation and offer with that organization. If you have doubts about an offer, take more time to decide and weigh your options before accepting.

Consider the whole shebang

Evaluate all benefits including vacation time, retirement packages, tuition assistance and salary. Determine cost of living to help you make a decision about salary. Also, evaluate the type of work you will be doing, who your manager and co-workers will be and where the company is located.

Hot topic: To negotiate compensation packages, or not?

Lovin’ the compensation package that was just handed to you? Don’t feel obligated to negotiate the package with an employer. It is not necessary if you feel the employer is making you a fair offer based on your skills, experience and market value for the position.


Have more questions about the application, interview or job offer process? Get in touch with your career advisor! Career advisors can assist you during all steps of the internship and job search process. Find out which career advisor is working with your college by visiting the Career Center website.

 

Tricks for Rocking Your Video Interview

Hiring managers may still meet applicants for face-to-face interviews, but there’s been a significant increase in companies opting to conduct video interviews, particularly in place of a phone screen. Video interviews—unlike phone interviews—give applicants the opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm and passion for a role and exude their personality through nonverbal communication or mannerisms. For example, nodding along or smiling in agreement with employers are behaviors that would be impossible to gauge over the phone.

Never experienced the thrill of a Skype interview? Here is a breakdown of the differences and similarities of video interviews and face-to-face interactions, as well as some tips on how to be successful.

What’s so different between face-to-face & video interviews?

The most obvious difference between video and face-to-face interviews is the use of a webcam. But, preparing for video interviews means more than just making sure your computer has a strong connection. You need to be aware of your surroundings and ensure that you remain the focus of the interview while keeping potential distractions to a minimum.

Distractions can take a variety of forms, from a roommate or pet walking around in the background to unprofessional or inappropriate wall art. Many of these distractions can be easily avoided (such as asking a roommate for privacy, keeping a pet in another room, or removing posters from the wall) while others may be out of your control (such as a car alarm that goes off in the street). If you aren’t comfortable conducting a video interview at home, identify friends or family who may have a more private space that you can borrow for the duration of your interview. Better yet, you can utilize one of the interview suites near the Loop Career Center, which provides a private office with minimal distractions. We’ll even set you up with a webcam if you don’t have one available to you. Just contact our Employer Relations department at recruitstudents@depaul.edu to check on space and webcam availability prior to your interview.

On the day of your interview, give yourself time beforehand to get your computer settings just right. This should include positioning the webcam at eye-level, and with enough space between you and the camera so that you aren’t too close or too far away from the screen. You should also find a setting that allows for picture-in-picture support, meaning that you can both see the employer who is interviewing you as well as keep an eye on how you are appearing to the employer. Finally, remember to look directly into the camera when answering interview questions; this will give the impression that you are making direct eye contact with the hiring manager.

What are the similarities?

Many tips that apply to face-to-face interviews are still important for video interviews. A big one is how you’re dressed; some people think they can dress more casually if they’re Skyping from home, or that they only need to wear professional attire from the waist up. In the case of the latter, imagine standing up at the end of the interview, forgetting the other half of you is sporting Star Wars pajama bottoms. You don’t want to nail the interview and have your—although very comfy—pajamas ruin it for you. Dressing professionally from head-to-toe will highlight your professionalism and can impact how you present yourself to employers; if you’re dressed more casually, you may revert to a more casual demeanor in the interview.

Similarly, many behaviors that would be considered inappropriate during a face-to-face interview should also be avoided during video interviews. While this may sound like common sense, the majority of stories we hear about applicants who are unsuccessful during video interviews tend to fall in this category. For example, an employer was put-off by an applicant who was chewing gum during her video interview. Another employer noted that the applicant was drinking coffee from a large mug, something that would be perfectly fine when Skyping with friends and family, but can seem too casual for formal interviews. To put it simply, if it’s something you wouldn’t do in a face-to-face interview, you shouldn’t be doing it in a video interview.

When it comes to the types of questions you will be asked, the good news is that this will be exactly the same as face-to-face interviews. Traditional, behavioral, and situational questions are the most common ones you’ll encounter regardless of how you’re being interviewed.

How can DePaul students prepare?

The best way to prepare for a video interview is to practice. InterviewStream is a resource that allows you to practice answering common interview questions via a webcam. It’s free to create an account, and there are thousands of questions to choose from pertaining to different industries and experience levels. Once you’ve completed your video interview, you can watch it or send it to your career advisor to receive feedback. Your career advisor can provide comments on your responses and body language, two things that employers will be assessing during an actual video interview.

Behavioral Questions: What Employers Really Want to Hear

By: Lynn Gibson, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and DePaul University marketing graduate

Have you ever wondered what the hiring manager is really looking for in your answers? In this article, Lynn Gibson, DePaul alumna and mentor, decodes the underlying meanings of job interview questions and shares what hiring managers are really listening for. 


During interviews, the hiring manager has one primary goal: Choose the candidate with the highest success potential for the role. While the necessary skills are certainly a part of that, candidates who don’t have the skills usually do not get an interview. So, the decision comes down to behavior. Since it is believed that past behavior predicts future behavior, most interviews are heavily weighted toward discovering your behavioral strengths.

Now, let’s discuss how to frame your strengths in response to behavioral questions to make sure you highlight your success potential.

As a hiring manager, here are a few things I’m listening for when I ask behavioral questions:

  • Do you take responsibility for your actions in a challenging situation, or do you project the problems onto others?
  • Can you accurately and concisely identify the real problem or challenge, explain your actions, and describe the result of your actions? (CAR)
  • Does frustration/irritation show in your answers, or does a can-do attitude shine through?
  • Do you show empathy for and understanding of others in situations, or do you project a my way or victim attitude?
  • What did you REALLY do on that team project? Can you relate the situation/assignment, tasks you were assigned, actions you took, and results that you measured? (STAR)
  • How do you assess or explain your successes? Are they all “just about you,” or do you appropriately share credit?
  • Are you enthusiastic when you talk about helping others or going above and beyond on something, or do your answers show more obligation than eagerness?

Here are a few more things I’m listening for:

When I ask about failures/weaknesses/disappointments, etc., I really want to know if you “own” your behavior, know how to break down and solve problems, view obstacles as stumbling blocks or opportunities, have the motivation to push through and finally succeed, and grow from the experience.

When I ask about successes/achievements, I want to know how and what you actually contributed, how humble you are in terms of assessing your success, and whether you can clearly and concisely tell me about the process you used to gain the success. In other words, is your success repeatable because it is process driven or did you get lucky?

When I ask questions about your goals, I am looking to gain insight into your values and how you measure success or progress. Can you articulate why something is important and can you chart a reasonable course to try to achieve it? This also provides insight into your “core” motivation, which is what will drive you to reach your success potential.

When I ask about the types of environments that have brought out the best in you, it helps me to know whether you prefer a hands-on or hands-off approach, and if you are a self-starter or need someone to provide motivation.

Hopefully, after reading this, you will understand that the interviewer is using behavioral questions to try to gauge how you will react and respond to daily situations in their firm. They are listening for more than the “answers.” They are attempting to discern the traits/strengths behind those answers and measure your success potential based on how their other successful employees behave – or react/respond. And, that is a very good thing! A really great interviewer will never offer a job to someone who can’t be happy and successful in the role. As much as you think you want a particular job, always hope that the interviewer is very capable and will spare you much disappointment if it really isn’t a great fit for you.

With that said, you are responsible to make certain that you are responding in a way that best captures your success potential. Now that you have a little more insight into the real questions behind the questions, it may be time to give a little more thought to your answers.


The Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network connects DePaul students and graduates with alumni to explore college and professional transitions, life challenges, and university and career questions. To connect with Lynn and other ASK mentors like her, visit Handshake. Questions? Contact ASK at ask@depaul.edu.