How to Prepare for a Virtual Campus Interview

  • January 30, 2021
  • Noah Glaser
  • 3 min read

Use two monitors if possible

If you have the an extra monitor laying around then use it to your advantage. In a traditional campus interview you will be sitting in a room with a group of academics grilling you with questions. Asking them to hold on for a second while you try to recall something you read about their program or a question that you had for them is not really an option.  With a virtual campus interview you can have your virtual conference room on one monitor and a list of notes and questions on the other. You read that the department was looking to expand and add a certificate program? Great! Take a note about this and make it a talking point when asked if you have any questions. How do you see yourself fitting into those plans? Use your notes to your advantage and impress the search committee.

Write yourself a job talk script

The job talk is often considered to be one of the most important parts of a campus interview. This is one of the moments where you can show off your abilities and the search committee will be looking to see how well you  can present yourself, deliver a lecture, design research slides, and can talk about your interests in an accessible way. It can also be one of the most stressful parts of an interview. When I give job talks I tend to pick a part of my research that I am passionate about and one that I can do with my eyes shut. However, when giving a job talk remotely you are afforded some additional benefits. Once again, if you have two screens then this is made even easier for you. But why not make a script for your entire job talk? Take the stress of yourself and make it easy. Set up a document and just write out your entire script and read from it if needed. However, practice it  several times and make sure you sound natural. You do not want to sound like you are reading from a script. 

Virtual backgrounds are your friend

During COVID many of us have been forced to work in spaces that are often less than ideal. When the pandemic first hit I was living in a small house and did not have an actual office space. So I had to work at a kitchen table that was poorly lit and kind of cluttered. That is not the impression you want to give off when interviewing. So make virtual backgrounds your friend. Pick something that is welcoming and not overly busy. A nice library or university scene tends to go well with the vibe you want to give off.

Test your technology in advance

This one should go without saying but it often seems to be overlooked. Don’t forget to practice with everything and to check every detail including your lighting, microphone, webcam, internet connection, and your familiarity with conferencing tool. You do not want to be fumbling around trying to remember how to share your screen when you are getting ready to start your job talk. Nor do you want to share the wrong screen and show everybody your notes or script if that is the direction you go in.  Test everything and make sure you are all ready to go.