Tips to Interview Virtually: Headphones On, Camera Up

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1. Dress the Part- Obviously, wear professional clothing similar to what you would to a traditional interview –  the added benefit is that you can quickly adapt – for example, slip off a blazer- if all your interviewers are wearing more casual clothing. 

2. Test the Equipment- Ensure your computer, microphone, and video are working for whatever platform your program will be using. Make sure your laptop is plugged in. This is not a time to rely on battery power. Ask a friend to use their home as a backup in case your internet flakes out the morning of your interview. And, perhaps most importantly, have the phone number of the coordinator or contact person handy in case you have last minute technical issues.  

For best results, your camera needs to be pointed at eye level and on a stable surface (that is, laptop NOT on your actual lap). This may require your laptop to be stacked on Brenner and Rector, for example. Background should be uniform and free from distractions – either a virtual background or a plain colored wall or similar.  

3. Get to know the program- Go to the program website and read about the curriculum and structure. Talk to graduates of the program. Ask to see the itinerary several days before the interview day. Spend some time to learn more about each of the people you will talk to. What papers have they recently written (pubmed), and read their institutional profile page (where did they train, what clinical and research interests do they have?) Take notes. 

4. Have questions ready- Make a list of questions to ask. Another bonus of online interviews is that you can have a physical list of questions to ask next to your computer. There will naturally be small talk about COVID, etc, but do not let this distract you from your purpose of learning about the program. Spend some serious time determining what is important to you in a training program – good clinical exposure, dedicated research time, procedures – and elicit answers from more than one interviewer.  

5. Do your research on the town- Think outside the box on this one. On the plus side, you won’t have to spend money on plane tickets, but this means you miss out on the chance to explore the town for yourself. Invest a few hours talking to friends in that city to see what living there is like. Check out apartment or real estate prices around the hospital. Search for local lifestyle blogs or Instagrammers in town to see what other people do for fun.  

6. Show your gratitude- It’s always a good idea to write a thank-you note after interviewing.  Remote interviews are no exception. Write a heartfelt email or get out your stationery. Even if you don’t plan to train at a program, these relationships will follow you for your career.


7. Be yourself- Most importantly, be your authentic self. The program is most interested in you as a person and genuinely wants to help you. So… be yourself. Trust your instincts, listen, converse, and enjoy the day. 

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