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. 

How to Prepare Your Virtual Career Fair “Elevator Pitch”

Learn how to create the perfect elevator pitch ahead of your next career fair – with examples!

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

So, you’ve registered for the DePaul Winter virtual career fair. You’ve scoped out the attending employers, registered for a few group and 1:1 sessions, and you’re feeling excited about the connections you’re about to make. You’ve got your outfit picked out, you’ve chatted with your roommates about keeping quiet and avoiding distractions during the fair, and you’re hopeful that you’ll make a good impression and find the job or internship you’re dreaming about. So, what else can you do to prepare? It’s time to work on your elevator pitch.

One of the best things you can do ahead of any virtual event is to prepare a few talking points to succinctly make the case about why you’re a great candidate. The employers that you meet with want to learn more about you! So think of a short overview about your background, studies, and career goals. Practice with a friend or family member ahead of the virtual fair so you’re ready when it’s time to introduce yourself to a recruiter.

Ahead, read our tips for how to prepare an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is essentially a short and sweet synopsis about yourself for a prospective employer. It’s called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to be brief enough to deliver convincingly during a quick elevator ride to your floor.

How long should my pitch be?

Think about the length of your average elevator ride. Not long, right? It’s a best practice to keep your elevator pitch to a minute or less! The key to an impactful elevator pitch is to stay short and sweet, avoid rambling, and prioritize truly pertinent information.

What should I include in my elevator pitch?

Focus on the skills and qualifications that’ll make you uniquely appealing to your audience. Give some top-level bullet points about what makes you an awesome candidate! 

  • Your field of study
  • A couple relevant skills or certifications
  • A nod to relevant experience 

Your elevator pitch should also touch on your professional goals: if you hope to find a job at a mission-driven startup, or want to relocate to Denver, or aim for a role where you’ll flex your coding skills, mention these. 

If you plan to meet with a few different types of employers during your career fair, don’t be afraid to tailor your pitch to different industries and roles. For example, your proficiency in Photoshop might not be relevant to a corporate sales role, but it is for marketing! Be aware of your audience. 

How to deliver an elevator pitch

When it comes to your elevator pitch, practice makes perfect. You might feel silly running through a 30-second spiel about yourself, but becoming confident in your delivery can make a huge difference when you’re face-to-face with a recruiter! Aim for your pitch to be brief, persuasive, and confident—not boastful. Ask a trusted friend or family member to run through your pitch with you a few times, give constructive feedback, and help you nail it! 

How should I wrap up after my pitch?

Typically, it’s a best practice to have a business card or a copy of your resume to hand to somebody after delivering your IRL elevator pitch during a career fair. However, since you’ll be meeting recruiters during virtual fairs, have a link to your Handshake profile handy to send via chat! If relevant, you can also share a digital portfolio during this time.

Elevator pitch examples:

  • “I’m Brinton and I just graduated DePaul University with a degree in English! I’ve worked as a freelance writer for lifestyle publications like Bustle for the past two years, and now I’m looking to grow as a full-time reporter in the entertainment, travel, or breaking news space. I’m proficient in Photoshop, certified in Google Analytics, and have experience managing social media channels for small businesses.”
  • “I’m Luke, and I’m a software engineer with a background working with high-growth e-commerce startups in the Chicago area. However, now I am looking for an opportunity that will bring me closer to my family and friends in Raleigh. I specialize in iOS and have four years of experience writing C++ code in a POSIX environment.”
  • “I’m Rey, and I’m a rising senior at DePaul University. I’m studying finance and spent last summer as an analyst for Goldman Sachs, where I focused mainly on comparative financial performance analysis. Now that I’m graduating in June, I’m hoping to find a full-time role as an investment banking analyst.”

3 Essential Virtual Career Fair Tips from Employers

Read these employer tips before your next virtual recruitment event.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Virtual career fairs on Handshake are one of the best ways for you to connect with employers that want to hire you. You can sign up early for DePaul’s Winter Career Fair to attend sessions with the employers you’re interested in, to learn about jobs and internships for students like you at your school. Group and one-on-one sessions will help you get an inside look at employers and find companies you’d like to work for.

But what are employers looking for during these sessions, and how can you stand out from the crowd? Here are three tips from employers that will help you impress them and get on their list of potential job candidates.

Be prepared and curious

Once you’ve filled up your schedule of virtual sessions, it’s important to research the employers you’ll be meeting with. Start by reading through their page on Handshake to get an overview of the organization and read student reviews. Then you can expand your research by looking at their company website, and doing a quick online search for recent news articles, press releases and other information. 

Have a short list of questions ready to ask employers during your sessions. What do you want to learn more about? What questions will help you decide if the company is a good fit for you? You can ask about company culture, professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, and more.

Make sure to check out the open jobs and internships on the employer’s Handshake page. They are looking for students to hire at virtual career fairs, so chances are they’ll want to discuss current opportunities with you during the session. 

Arrive on time and stick around

The easiest way to make a great first impression with employers is to be on time for your sessions. You can enter a video session five minutes before the session begins. It’s a good idea to set phone alerts or calendar reminders for your sessions, to ensure you’re logged into Handshake and ready to go.

It’s also really important that you stay for the entire session. If you have a one-on-one session with an employer, you wouldn’t dream of logging out early, right? Well, the same goes for any group session you’re attending.

Maybe the session isn’t quite what you thought you were signing up for, or all of your questions were answered early. Doesn’t matter—just like you, employers have busy schedules and their time is valuable. Being on time and staying until the end of a session demonstrates that you’re responsible and respectful.

Get ready to hit send on your follow-up

Prepare a draft of your follow-up message to an employer before you attend their session. That way, you’ll be a step ahead once the session is over. Start by thanking the employer ambassador for their time and for sharing information about the organization. Then, include something specific you enjoyed discussing or learning about, and reiterate your interest in the company. Finally, indicate that you’re taking next steps such as applying for an open job. 

If you have drafts ready before the fair, you can quickly edit and send them after your sessions—and be one of the first students to follow up. This will definitely help you stand out to employers!

Want more useful tips? Check out our guide to attending virtual career fairs.

How to Get an Internship or Job When Hiring is All Virtual

Learn how to navigate virtual recruitment and stand out to employers online.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Recruiting season may look different this year, but luckily thousands of employers are searching for students on Handshake. So, how can you be ready to land your next job or internship virtually this year? Follow these steps to make the most of your online job hunt. 

Complete your Handshake profile

This is always our first piece of advice for student job seekers, because your profile is fundamental to getting hired on Handshake. Employers are searching for students to recruit based on the information in their profiles such as major, graduation date, and interests (job type, cities, roles). And you can highlight all of the things that make you uniquely qualified including your courses, organizations, work experience and skills. When you complete your profile, you’ll be more likely to receive direct messages from employers inviting you to events or to apply for jobs.

The next step is crafting your resume with the information included in your profile. Upload and save your resume to your Handshake account so it’s ready when you’re applying to jobs. You can upload more than one version of your resume—so consider adapting it for different roles that you want to apply for.

Start networking online

You’ve probably heard that networking is important, and it can sound a bit intimidating. But “networking” really just means making a connection with someone from your school, extracurriculars, volunteer groups—or just reaching out to someone you don’t know who shares the same professional interests. There are many different ways to start networking online. 

Find alumni of your school on Handshake who have or had roles that you’re interested in and send them a message. Introduce yourself and tell them you’d like to learn more about their experience. Ask them a question you have about their organization or how they began their career. And don’t forget to thank them in advance for connecting and sharing their advice.

Try looking for online professional interest groups to make connections with people in the fields that you’re exploring. It may take some research; you can also reach out to your professors or club leaders for their suggestions.

Stay up-to date on employers 

When you see an employer on Handshake that you like, click the Follow button on their page. If you’re on the Handshake app, click the star button. Following employers on Handshake is so useful because you’ll receive email alerts when they post new jobs and events. Plus, it helps improve your job recommendations. The more you explore and follow employers you’d like to work for, the more relevant your recommendations become.

Additionally, you can set search engine alerts for your top employers and follow their social media accounts. These are easy ways to learn about new initiatives, jobs, and other notable updates on their organization. 

Attend virtual recruiting events

One of the biggest opportunities to connect with employers this year is at virtual events on Handshake. Employers are hosting group and 1:1 sessions to give students a look at their organizations and to recruit for open jobs and internships. Be sure to check your email for event announcements and log in often to see upcoming events for students at your school. You’ll also be notified when employers you follow are attending virtual fairs on Handshake. 

When you register for a virtual fair, you can sign up early for sessions with the employers you want to meet and learn more about—a major advantage over traditional career fairs. Don’t miss these prime recruiting opportunities! 

Read our guide to virtual events, with tips and tricks to know before you attend.

Practice for virtual interviews

Just like in-person interviews, it takes some practice to get comfortable with virtual interviews. This is the time to call in some reinforcements. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice. Start with your “elevator pitch”—a brief introduction about you, your background and career goals. Then have them ask you a few common interview questions and ask them for any feedback on your answers. While you don’t need to memorize exactly what you’ll say, it’s very important to get more comfortable answering interview questions. 

Check out our post with more ways to impress employers during a virtual interview.

Chat with your career center

Your school’s career center staff are an incredible resource, so take advantage of their knowledge. They can answer your job and internship questions, help you craft your resume and cover letters, or even practice for virtual interviews. They also have insight on employers that are hiring at your school and those that may have strong alumni networks. Call your career center and schedule an appointment—they’ll be happy to help you. 

Apply apply apply

You can’t get a job if you don’t apply, right? It may go without saying, but you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting hired if you apply to a lot of open jobs. And try to keep an open mind, especially if you’re not quite sure what you want to do. Now is the time to gain different experiences and learn what you do and don’t like about a job. 

Luckily Handshake will surface recommendations based on your profile, to help you find the jobs you want to apply for. Once you have your profile filled in and resumes uploaded, you’ll be able to apply to many jobs on Handshake in just a few clicks.

Be proactive and follow up

No matter where your job search takes you, be consistent and follow up. Whether it’s a message from an employer, an application, virtual event or interview—always consider three p’s: be proactive, prompt and polite. For interviews, whether informational or for an open job, it’s best practice to send a thank you note within 24 hours. In your thank you note, share something specific that you enjoyed learning or talking about, and reiterate your interest in the job, career path, etc. 

If you discussed an open job or internship with an employer during a virtual event, make sure to apply as soon as possible. If the employers shared their contact information with you, send them a note thanking them and letting them know you’ve applied.

Your online actions are especially important when recruiting is virtual. If you can’t make a great impression in person, it’s best to be extra responsive and appreciative to the connections you make online. 

Log into Handshake now to get started on your virtual job search!

How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview