Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, some students, who're about to appear for IIM interviews in an electronic mode, asked for some tips and suggestions. This post will share some points for them to be prepared.
As per the information that has been shared with me, most IIMs are going to have their own test centres for facilitating the video conferencing of the candidate and the panelists. In order to understand what needs to be done in an e-interview, we should look at what will change in such a setting as opposed to the offline face-to-face interview mode.
The Earlier Setting
In a traditional interview setting, there were a couple of norms that were told to be followed. I've written a post about these in a post on the right body language for interviews, which you can read before proceeding.
Now, let's start from the very beginning and imagine how the scenario is going to look like in an e-interview.
Greetings - In the earlier scenario, you would have had the golden opportunity to walk and greet the panelists non-verbally. In this case, you'll most likely be seated on a chair in front of a camera or a desktop screen and the interviewers will be able to see you only when you'll be seated. So, the first suggestion for you is to never keep a blank face, you won't be sure if the camera will be switched on already or not. So, be prepared to have a smiling face till your interview begins.
Icebreaker - In interviews, it's important to feel comfortable with the panelists before your interview begins. Most students, when they enter the room in a traditional setting, are asked questions about their hometowns, dress-code, etc. as an icebreaker. In this case, either you can initiate or most likely the interviewers will initiate by asking about the condition of your hometown or state amidst the Covid-19 crisis. It'll be a good idea to ask them how they are doing, if the conditions of the current batch are okay and if the e-interviews are not causing too much trouble to them. This would be appreciated as a kind gesture on your part.
Facial Expressions - Normally, candidates are seated at least 3-5 feet away from the interviewers with a table in between them. In this case, your face is going to be extraordinarily close to the screen (in order to have better audibility). Hence, your facial expressions will be way more vivid (given the pixel clarity) as compared to the traditional setting. That is why you need to take care of how you respond using non-verbal cues. Whenever you're asked a question, stay composed and try to smile as much as possible.
Eye-Contact - Interviewers really appreciate if you have eye-contact with them while answering questions. In an e-interview scenario, you need to take extra care of the camera's location because that is what determines how you look on their screen. Here's an example to understand:
Now, you cannot always keep looking at the camera because then you won't be able to see the interviewers' expressions. But, make sure that at least when you're speaking, you have the proper eye-contact by looking at the camera.
Avoid Spectacles - This is a little difficult for those who wear spectacles. Most often, our spectacles have a sort of glare when the camera gets switched on. The interviewers will get distracted because of it. That's why either wear anti-reflection glasses (test them on your laptop's camera), or wear contact lenses or avoid wearing spectacles at all if the power is manageable. Same goes for any flashy jewellery.
Hairstyle - This point is more important for female candidates. If you want your facial expressions to be clear, you'd want to avoid letting your hair take the most amount of screen time. Wavy, frizzy hair can cause troubles, more so if you're continuously touching them during the interview. Either do a pony tail or put them behind your ears. Practice this at home in front of your laptop camera.
Documents - Most aspirants carry a documents file or folder in the interview to show some certificates or art or anything relevant to the interviewers. In an e-interview setting, you might not be able to show these proofs because of the restricted area a camera can cover. Hence, a way around this is to upload any relevant certificates or documents on a drive (not too many, only 1-2 things you really wanna show the interviewers). Then, go to bitly.com, copy the drive/folder's link and create a customized address. For example, when you click on bit.ly/format-of-cv, you get access to a bit link I've created for the CV format we use at IIMs. By doing this, you can ask the interviewers to visit that link and show them what you want to. They generally have their mobile phones with them. But, keep it shorter.
Nodding - In a traditional interview, I would have said that you should nod when you are listening to the interviewers. But, in an e-setting, you must be careful about any lag that is taking place due to the connectivity issues. In that case, the interviewers would have stopped speaking and you'd still be nodding on their screens. So, nod only in the middle of their sentences.
Listen, then speak - Because of the lag, the interviewers will try their best to not interrupt you while you're speaking. You must maintain the same case. This means that once the interviewers stop speaking, you pause for a second and then respond. It also means that once you've stopped speaking, don't begin just because you remembered something. Wait for the interviewers to complete their sentence if they have begun. Apologize if you interrupt them accidentally.
Confidence - The definition of confidence in an e-interview setting gets changed. It gets defined by how synchronized you are with the interviewers in terms of when they speak and when you speak. It also gets defined by where you look at the screen to ensure eye-contact. It also gets identified when you request them to repeat the question if you haven't understood it or you apologize for any interruption.
Voice Modulation - You will not be able to hear how you're sounding in front of the panelists. So, start with a particular tone and pitch. After your introduction, request the interviewers to share a quick feedback if your voice is audible or if they want you to speak loudly. You can also do this before the beginning of the interview. Keep the same pitch throughout.
I know what you might be going through. Someone who has prepared for CAT would not want anything to go wrong in these interviews. But, the point to be kept in mind is that the interviewers are also cognizant of this feeling of the candidates. You can expect them to be more lenient and accommodating this time.
Having said that, if there is any intrusion during your interview that makes you feel unsure of your performance, be assured that the technical glitches will not impact your selection decision. How you respond to such glitches, might. So, stay confident and make sure you seal the deal.
Feel free to connect and give a read to these posts if you like: