What’s new

Virtual Connection – The opportunity to make personal connections in the virtual environment is important. Adapting to the rigid time frames imposed by virtual interviews requires researching your interviewer’s professional profile, groups they belong to, schools they attended, etc. You might be from the same hometown as the interviewer, follow the same sports team, or participate in the same hobby. As a result, the interviewer is more likely to remember you when you connect a few months later and greet them with a specifically personal reference.

Adapting to the virtual career fair

Eye contact – Pre-test your video camera set-up for a direct view. Your camera should be above eye level and angled downward for your best look. While real eye contact may only be simulated because you are facing the camera instead of another person, this placement allows for full view of facial expressions. This is particularly helpful when your face lights up with enthusiasm because you are so excited about a topic you are discussing with a potential employer.

Technical difficulties – Despite your best efforts, your webcam might stop working, or you won’t be able to hear or be heard. Troubleshoot the most obvious sources of your problem and, if they can’t be resolved, plan to reconnect with the interviewer. Becoming flustered is understandable but counterproductive. No doubt your interviewer has experienced something similar at one time or another. You should view these challenges as an opportunity to demonstrate to a potential employer how you deal with adversity, think on your feet, and problem solve.

What hasn’t changed

Dress the part – Most of you are well prepared to dress professionally. First impressions still count.

Do your homework – When the potential employer asks you, “What do you know about our company?” you want to be able to respond with knowledgeable positive comments. In some ways this is even more important in the current environment than it was in previous years when you were just wandering around random booths. If you decide in the last minute to “drop by a booth,” wait until the next scheduling segment and use that time to determine if this company represents an environment/business that is truly of interest to you.

Seize the opportunity to improve your knowledge base – No employer expects a college student or recent graduate to be a seasoned business person who understands industry nuances, market players, and career path options. Ask plenty of thoughtful questions. (see do your homework above) Use your “booth” time wisely. Even if there is not a specific interest in the company or the position, you have the undivided attention of the interviewer. Questions that tap into the knowledge base of the interviewer will give you real-world information you may be able to use. You might even ask, “What don’t I know about your (insert: company/industry/profession/discipline) that I really should know?”

Build professional power via strong networks – Participants on the employer side at job fairs tend to be good networkers. They are open to building community relationships and communicating with their networks beyond currently open positions for which you are perfectly qualified. Don’t be afraid to connect with these people for future dialogue via professional associations or social networks such as LinkedIn.

Observe the courtesies – Greet the interviewer and introduce yourself. Let the interviewer set the pace for the conversation. In group chats, take turns and honor the other participants’ speaking time. Follow up with a quick thank you via e-mail or social media.