Like most of my classmates, as graduation from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas came closer – I began looking for career opportunities. Unlike my classmates, not only was I looking for careers outside of the city, but also outside of the state. North Carolina is where most of my search was conducted as my then fiancé (now wife) lived and worked there.
You know how it goes – I sent out dozens of applications to dozens of companies (while subsequently turning down offers in San Antonio and Houston to keep searching) and received dozens of automated rejection emails. For those applications that I did hear back from, they just didn’t feel like the right opportunity; they were all companies that didn’t share any of my values and so the search for the perfect opportunity continued.
One day, however, I received an email that was starkly different from the rest. Instead of the usual “Dear Julian, we regret to inform you that…” I noticed a welcomed break from the bunch. “Hi Julian, my name is…”
Her name was LaToya, and the hiring manager of a position I had applied to at Cisco sent my information her way thinking I might be a better fit for Cisco’s Leaders in Finance & Technology (LIFT) program – and she agreed! Since this opportunity was in North Carolina and I was still a full-time student in Texas, an in-person interview was not possible.
Good thing that Cisco offers a variety of collaboration tools that came to the rescue and the team set up what would be the first of two Webex interviews. I consider myself to be a good interviewer, but up until that point I had only ever had them in-person or on the phone.
“What if the laptop dies and I get disconnected in the middle of my interview?”, “What if I can’t pick up on how they are reacting to my answers?”, “What about if the internet suddenly gets disconnected?” I ran through a hundred different scenarios of what could possibly go wrong during a Webex interview and was slightly intimidated by the fact that I had never had an opportunity like this before.
Naturally, I researched tips and tricks to mastering Webex interviews, and had a few key takeaways. Here’s how I nailed the interview from a thousand miles away:
1. Put your best (virtual) foot forward – a video interview is still an interview and presenting yourself professionally is still important. I made sure to take into consideration that my interviewer could see not only me, but everything in my immediate background. I ensured my background wasn’t distracting or unprofessional (now might be a good time to ditch that pile of laundry sitting on your bed or maybe even that Pulp Fiction poster on your wall).
Bonus tip: I also made sure to prop up my computer so that it was at eye level. This helped to position me at a better angle and helped improve my posture.
2. Microphone Check 1, 2 – I double checked that my computer’s microphone, speakers, and webcam were all working properly beforehand. Luckily, Webex also has built in checks to test all of these (Thanks, Cisco!) – but it’s still a good idea to test them ahead of time, and to hop on early to test them again in Webex. Also make sure that the room you plan on taking the interview in is well lit and that your face can be seen clearly on the screen.
3. Take a breather and speak up – Since you can’t fully read body language during a video interview it can sometimes be difficult to know when your interviewer has finished their sentence. Give yourself a few seconds before responding to avoid talking over them, then speak up.
In Germany, where I grew up, we have a saying that goes, “Der Ton macht die Musik!” which loosely translates to “Intonation makes the music!” It’s always important to speak clearly and concisely.
4. Mind your time – As with the other interview types, make sure to prepare your notes ahead of time and come up with a priority list of questions for your interviewer. At the end of the day, no matter how the interview takes place – it should be nothing to worry about, if you properly prepare and bring your authentic self to the interview.
I’m proud to say that I’m now a part of the Cisco LIFT team! I’ve experienced Cisco’s culture firsthand – and it is exactly what was reflected throughout the application and interview process. We’re always looking out for each other, and the best interests of others.
I’m so thankful that a Cisco Recruiter cared enough to look out for me and shared my information with the LIFT program. With these tips and tricks, perseverance, and a lot of hard work, maybe you’ll receive your own “Hi, my name is…” email someday too.
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