Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Virtual Interview Tips for College Students

By Drew Hendrickson, CPA, CIPP, CCSFP


While companies continue to innovate ways to manage their businesses during the pandemic, they have also had to pivot on how they interview candidates and the recruiting process as a whole. Many events continue to be postponed and cancelled altogether, making it harder for students and companies to interact. Fortunately, companies have moved to virtual events, allowing students opportunities to learn more about them, and to ask questions from multiple individuals from the organization. This has led to interviews, especially at the campus level, occurring virtually. While virtual interviews may provide some challenges, many of these can be overcome, and you can still stand out to the company and interviewer (or interviewers).  Below are some tips to consider when preparing for your virtual interview:

·       Turn the camera on – It will likely be expected for you to be on camera during the interview. Have your camera on when starting the interview. Test the camera and the location before and ensure that the lighting doesn’t cast a shadow on yourself so the interviewer can easily see you. If this just isn’t possible or an option for you, ask the company up front if a phone call is an option.

·       Test your technology – Ensure your internet access is good and allows for good video quality and the tool needed for the interview (Zoom, WebEx, Teams, etc.) is installed and operating effectively. If you are having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company interviewing you. They can likely help with the tool and help you think through locations that will work to ensure you have no bandwidth issues during the interview. Your campus may also have options.

·       Be early – Don’t show up late to a virtual interview, ever. In fact, you should be at least five minutes early, if not more. This ensures you also have time for any last-minute technology issues. There almost always is an issue, so plan on it ahead of time to ensure you are there and ready when the interviewer logs on.

·       Dress for the job – When interviews were occurring in the office, candidates would dress for the job, if not above (some jobs require business casual, but candidates might wear a suit, and other jobs might have a casual dress code, but candidates might wear something more formal). Even though your interview might be virtual, you should still wear the attire you would be expected to wear when performing the duties of the job if not “dressing to impress.” While you won’t solely be judged on your attire, it will show the interviewer you are excited for the opportunity.

·       Eye contact – Remember that your camera likely isn’t where your eyes want to go to, which is looking at the person on the screen you are talking to. If possible, when talking look directly in your camera to show you are engaged. This shows the interviewer you are not distracted. If that is just too awkward or hard for you, it’s more important to keep your eyes on the screen in general, even if not directly at the camera. If you are constantly glancing at another monitor or around the room the interviewer may become disengaged or believe you are not interested in the position.

·       Bonus tip – This tip may not apply to the virtual interview but should help you as you prepare regardless! Always come with questions to your interview. Most interviewers will at some point ask you if you have any questions and saying “no” or “I’ve asked everything I can think of in prior discussions” can give the perception that you aren’t interested in the position. Even if you’ve spoken to other individuals at the company, you can ask the same question. The interviewer doesn’t know what you know, and you may be surprised at different perspectives you get from different individuals answering the same question. It may also reveal consistency or issues with the organization. Remember, you are interviewing them too!

Many of these items may appear to be self-explanatory, but unfortunately these mistakes are happening all too frequently in today’s “virtual interview” world. Everyone is a bit more forgiving in this environment (it’s just not always possible to keep your dog from barking or to keep a toddler from walking in your room!) but taking these steps will show those you are interviewing with that you are prepared and ensure you have a seamless interview. The care and attention you can put into a successful virtual interview will no doubt pay dividends for you leading to that offer!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

TSCPA Student Ambassador Profile - Josie Spivey

Josie Spivey - Lipscomb University

May 2021

Meet TSCPA Student Ambassador Josie Spivey! Josie is a senior at Lipscomb University where she was drawn to accounting after being accepted into the business program. She hopes to work for an organization after graduation that will allow her to grow and contribute her accounting skills. She encourages other students to consider accounting and all the opportunities it offers.

Josie loves to travel and was able to study abroad in Europe where she visited nine countries. She also loves to cook, workout and FaceTime with her family and friends.

Have a question for Josie? Email her at jcspivey@mail.lipscomb.edu

Monday, December 7, 2020

Four Tips for Online Learning Success

By Josie Spivey, Lipscomb University TSCPA Student Ambassador

2020 has been a rollercoaster. Each of us is having to learn how to adapt quickly. This was especially true for me as a student when classes went online suddenly due to COVID-19. I have never been a fan of online classes because I enjoy being with my classmates in person and find it easier to engage in a traditional classroom setting. After a couple of weeks of online courses, one of my professors facilitated a class discussion to let us air out how we were feeling about the switch from in-person to online education. Many of my classmates felt the same way I did - lack of motivation, complacent, easily distracted and tired of sitting at their computer looking at a screen all day. There are some individuals that thrive doing online school or working from home, but many others do not. I would like to share a few tips for those of you who struggle with virtual courses.

Imitate a Classroom Setting

One thing that I found to be helpful was to imitate a classroom setting in my room. During my Zoom classes, I would sit up and set my laptop at a desk or table. This helped me to be engaged and ready to take notes during class. Furthermore, making a separate workplace for yourself enables you to walk away from your work when you’re done and need to relax. Another tip is to keep your Zoom camera on during class. This shows the professor you are engaged and that their class is your priority at the moment. It can also act as an accountability tool for yourself - if you know they can see you, you are more likely to pay attention. 

Get Outside 

Staring at a screen while inside all day can be draining and boring. I discovered that short walks outside everyday helped me to combat this. It allows you to get out of the house and change your scenery, especially during the long class days. Receiving a benefit doesn’t require you to go far. Trust me, it will completely change your focus and mood! 

Utilize Technology

Luckily, we have the technology to stay in touch with our professors, classmates, family and friends to assist with practicing social distancing. Virtual platforms such as Zoom are great for interacting during this time. Although it may not be the same as seeing someone in person, it still allows you to have the face-to-face interaction that texting cannot provide.  

Stay Positive

This is key! Remaining positive about a situation can change your entire outlook on the situation. We are all in this together. Remember, your family, friends, classmates and coworkers are all going through the same types of anxiety and stress you may be feeling right now. This has been new for each of us. So, make a mental effort to contribute positively to your conversations. 

I am a big fan of the phrase, “This too shall pass,” and it will. The world will, no doubt, look different on the other side. But we will carry on, working together to make our world a better place.