by Joanne Stirrup, Product Specialist
I spent the past few months engrossed in consulting recruitment. Overall, the process involves two main sections: traditional behavioral interviews to assess your fit and case interviews to evaluate the way you think. Admittedly, I was overwhelmed by the need to balance several interviews and applications a week with the already immense demands of school. In response to this pressure, I looked to every website for advice. Many of these sources, while often helpful, were largely geared towards pre-COVID recruiting. After just going through the process and officially accepting an offer, I’d love to share some reflections on how to best adapt to the virtual environment.
Many traditional consulting guides stress the importance of maintaining organized notes because the interviewer is able to see what and how you write in an in-person interview. With the switch to virtual recruiting, however, you might feel tempted to let this organization go. Although your interviewer can no longer see your papers, you still have to navigate through them–– and strong organizational skills are essential to solving the case when there are often questions that build on previous answers.
You don’t have to flip your paper unless asked.
This tip goes along with the first one. At first, I wasn’t sure how to navigate the presentation of information in a virtual setting because individuals are often prompted to turn their paper around in-person. On Zoom, however, you do not have to flip your paper unless asked–– follow the interviewer’s lead here to see which way to approach the presentation. In preparation, though, you should practice verbally communicating your visual guide, making sure to describe the ways in which you’ve segmented your thinking. Note, however, that if you anticipate showing your work on camera, ensure that you uncheck the “mirror my video” option in Zoom settings. This way, your work will not read backwards to the interviewer.
Although the slogan of the work-from-home era has been “professional from the waist up,” there can be some advantage to wearing a full professional outfit. While this is not at all a requirement (since you have the option to turn off your camera if you need to get up), I often feel more powerful when I’m wearing a full pantsuit as opposed to a blazer with fuzzy pajama pants. Ultimately, you know your needs best; but if your confidence is something that might need a boost, try wearing your full suit to the interview!
Leverage your home-field advantage.
The beauty of virtual interviews lies in the power you have to adapt your space to your needs. Adjust your lighting, manicure your background, and sit in your most comfortable chair. With these variables in your control, you can focus on nailing the interviews and securing your internship.
Communicate with housemates in advance about your needs.
There are, however, some variables that might now become difficult to control. From dogs barking to roommates barging in, it might be difficult to fully manage your environment. However, effective and early communication can limit these risks. Before my interviews, I communicated with my roommate to make sure that I could have our room, and I asked my other housemates not to speak too loudly outside of my door. While this can be an awkward or vulnerable position, it’s an important step in ensuring that you can devote your attention to the tasks at hand.
Breathe–we are all experiencing the unique demands of our virtual world.
With these tips in mind, remember that we are all working through these same challenges in adapting to virtual environments. Interviewers are often incredibly understanding of the issues that come with living in shared spaces, and they are there to support you through the process.