A virtual job interview can be nerve-wracking your first time around, but the Longwood business students taking Management 391 this semester will be able to play it cool when they face that situation in the future.
Now, more than ever, companies are relying on videoconferencing technology like Zoom, Google Hangout and Yello—as well as regular phone calls—to screen candidates. Some companies are even skipping in-person interviews altogether in the hiring process and may continue to do so after social-distancing requirements are lifted.
This gave me a way to have that first experience in a way that I knew wasn’t make or break. I was able to really take in the experience instead of being worried that I was making a mistake that would impact my likelihood of getting a job. Overall it was just a great learning experience.Gillian Coleman ’22 Tweet This
No worries (or at least not as many) for the students in this spring’s Management 391 class, which focuses on developing professional skills, including those needed to pull off a stellar job interview. Just as in the past, each student prepared for and went through a mock interview with a volunteer business professional. This semester, however, because all classes had moved online, the interviews were conducted either via videoconferencing or a phone call instead of in person.
“Some members of Generation Z seem to have an aversion to talking on the phone—it’s called ‘telephonophobia,’” said Patti Carey, lecturer and director of student engagement and special initiatives in the College of Business and Economics, who teaches the class. “Helping our students feel comfortable and confident in speaking professionally on the phone and being able to sell themselves well during a phone or virtual interview is critical.”
It’s critical for candidates to become familiar with this technology and practice using it. Lancers will be more prepared for the future through this experience.Chris Tunstall ’88 Tweet This
Dan Hughes ’13, a senior manager at BGS Consulting in the Washington, D.C., area, was one of 16 volunteers—including eight Longwood alums—who conducted the mock interviews with the 75 students taking the class this semester.
“You could definitely tell it was more nerve-wracking for most of the students this year,” said Hughes, who has helped with the interviews for the last five years. “It’s a little harder for them to read my body language in a video. I also noticed that the students were pausing in their answers, and those gaps in the conversation seemed more prominent than in person.”
Hughes said students became less nervous and more comfortable as the interview progressed, indicating that the experience would help prepare them for interviews when a real job was at stake.
Gillian Coleman ’22, an economics major and a student in the class this year, agrees.
“I think having our interviews like this was extremely valuable. Especially in this day and time, everything is becoming more electronic and less face-to-face,” she said. “This gave me a way to have that first experience in a way that I knew wasn’t make or break. I was able to really take in the experience instead of being worried that I was making a mistake that would impact my likelihood of getting a job. Overall it was just a great learning experience.”
Coleman was interviewed by Chris Tunstall ’88, assistant vice president for human resources at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, who said he was particularly impressed with how she handled her interview. “She clearly demonstrated her strengths in communication skills, work ethic and learning agility,” he said.
Tunstall, who also has volunteered to interview students for several years, said more and more organizations—including the Federal Reserve—are using virtual interviews in their job-selection processes. “It’s critical for candidates to become familiar with this technology and practice using it,” he said. “Lancers will be more prepared for the future through this experience.”
Carey is thinking the same way.
“When we go back to face-to-face classes, I am seriously considering keeping the virtual/phone interview assignment in addition to the face-to-face one,” she said. “I’d love for the students to have both experiences because they are both relevant and skill-building.”
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