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How to stand out in a virtual world: Interview Tips for UCC Students

By: Patricia Delahunty | Posted on: 28 Apr 2021

How to stand out in a virtual world: Interview Tips for UCC Students

Since March 2019, we’ve been thrown into a pool of technology and our eyes are now close to resembling laptop screen rectangles. Having online lectures and the majority of our social lives online has been of great help in terms not having to wake as early for a traffic-heavy commute and running for the hills from the café to the 9 AM lecture. But after all, the lack of interaction, challenge stress and daily happenings like this could be affecting our motivation to do important things like virtual interviews.

Here we have a few tips to stand out during online interviews and making a real impression amongst a mass of candidates:

Focus on the message: During a job interview, you are the product and are trying to convince the recruiter to invest on you.

  • What are you passionate about? Companies are attracted to candidates who can transfer their excitement and motivation. Find what excites you the most about the company and the job specification and match it to your abilities and why would love to work there.
  • Solve a problem: Find a challenge you have solved in the past and indicate how you achieved it. A STAR example is a Situation, a Task, the Reaction and the Result. This will give the recruiter an insight to your ability to solve problems and a ‘can do’ attitude.
  • Make it effective and do get to the point. Recruiters and HR departments are also spending days in front of a screen, so don’t be afraid to reinforce what you want them to really hear about you. Highlight your top skills and qualifications and how they match the job specification and the company’s values.
  • Story telling: Recruiters in Stryker and Adobe have mentioned that they prefer to hear a narrative than bullet points of your experience. Rather than reading your CV out loud, engage them with an event or experience that will make you stand out. A story that entails a challenge and how you have become more resilient as a result will draw their attention.
  • Avoid general statements: Relying on typical comments such as “I am a motivated graduate with excellent communication skills” is great but recruiters see this on thousands of CVs on a daily basis. Highlight what separates you from competitors. For example, have you volunteered somewhere and what did you learn from it? Have you learned something outrageous from your travels or the sport that you play.
  • Keep engaging: “Zoom” fatigue is certainly real at this rate of the pandemic and it’s crucial that you retain the recruiter’s attention to help them remember you. Find opportunities during the interview to help them focus on you and line up your sentences with, “One thing that I’d like you to know about me is…”, “what has definitely helped me to choose this role is…”, or “the most important thing I’ve learned is…”

A few small tips to keep in mind:

  •     Dress professionally to show that you’re serious about the position despite the virtual interview.
  •     Be yourself: don’t be afraid of showing your sense of humour and smiling throughout.
  •     Don’t memorize: keep things simple and conversational to avoid sounding robotic. Don’t feel like you have to give a long-winded answer and stay genuine.
  •     Ask questions at the end of the interview about factors that matter to you such as the company’s culture, opportunities for development, and the next stages of the hiring process.
  •     Follow up: feel free to send an individual thank you email after 24 hours.

Communicating virtually may not be ideal for any of us, however, there are multiple ways to set you apart from other applicants. Make sure that you do your research on the company, know your CV, and make a good impression that includes some narrative to help them remember you. The country may be closed due to the pandemic, but the economy certainly isn’t, so there are plenty of opportunities out there waiting for you after you graduate. Stay positive and use UCC’s resources if you need further support on upcoming interviews or engaging with recruiters in a professional manner.


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