How to prepare for your one-on-one
1. Set up a dedicated space
A little planning goes a long way in finding the right spot to conduct your one-on-one sessions. A few tips to setting your space:
- Look for a quiet spot that has privacy and plenty of light. Try to limit potential distractions and interruptions.
- Let the people in your household know when you’ll be meeting with employers, so they can limit background noise or disruptions.
- Test your background options on video before event day to see how they look on screen. You want the area behind you to be as plain and tidy as possible, so remove any distracting visuals.
- Make sure your face is well-lit so the employer can see you clearly. Have a source of light behind your device, not behind you.
- Have your device at eye level, so you don’t have to look up or down at the camera. Sit at a comfortable distance from the camera—not too close or too far. This will keep your session as close to an in-person conversation as possible.
2. Check your device and connection
Just like you set up your physical space, make sure your technology is set up before event day. Check your internet connection, as well as the audio and video on your device—whether you’re logging in from a computer or on the Handshake app (available in the App Store or Google Play).
Be sure to charge your device before the event and have it plugged in during your sessions just in case. Learn more about video requirements and troubleshooting for virtual events on Handshake.
3. Research and prepare talking points
Make the most of your session time by coming up with a few talking points beforehand. Practice how you’ll introduce yourself and the key achievements, skills and/or career goals you want to highlight (known as your elevator pitch). Practicing will keep you from forgetting what you want to say, or from looking down at notes.
Then, read through common interview questions and think of a few experiences that you can reference to answer them.
Learn about the employers you’ll meet with by reading their Handshake pages and student reviews, checking out their website, and doing a quick search for recent articles or press releases. Finally, think of a few questions you’d like to ask to see if the employer would be a good fit for you.
In addition to preparing talking points, practice a few video calls with a friend or family member. This will help you become more confident in talking about yourself and answering common questions. Ask for feedback on your talking points, as well as how your communication and body language translated on video.
And contact your school’s career center to see if they offer mock interview sessions. Whether you meet them virtually or in-person, this is a terrific way to get professional advice!
The day of your one-on-one session
5. Dress professionally
Although you’re meeting virtually, you should dress like you would for an in-person meeting with an employer. Think business casual attire—you don’t need to wear a suit, but no sweats or gym clothes. A plain buttoned shirt, blouse or sweater will translate well on video. Try to avoid busy patterns or accessories that will take the focus away from you.
6. Show up on time (or early)
This may go without saying, but the easiest way to make a great first impression is to be on time for your session. You can log into any session up to 5 minutes before the start time. If you think you’ll need a nudge, set alerts or other reminders to help you.
7. Remember eye contact and body language
It’s important to maintain eye contact with your camera while you’re speaking so the employer can see your eyes. Remember to sit up straight in your chair (keep a small pillow behind you if that helps).
Other body language cues that will help you make a connection with the person on the other end of the screen: smiling and nodding at appropriate times. This shows that you’re listening and are enthusiastic about the conversation.
8. Take your time when speaking
You may be nervous when you’re meeting an employer—most people are. And when you’re nervous, you may have a tendency to speak quickly. Try taking a deep breath before you start speaking, and be mindful to speak slowly and clearly. If you talk too quickly, it will be more difficult for employers to understand you.
Additionally, it’s important to wait until the employer finishes their question or statement. Take a pause before you start speaking to ensure you don't talk over them.
Lastly, be yourself and have confidence! You're all set to have a great conversation with your potential future employer.
When you're done, head over to this post to learn how to follow up on your one-on-one.
Log into Handshake now to find virtual one-on-one sessions with employers you want to meet.