Your Time to Shine
Nailing the Virtual Interview – Your Time to Shine!
by Lauren Loeffler, SPS Commerce
Long-time partners, SPS Commerce and the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program, recently joined forces to deliver a free webinar – “Nailing the Virtual Interview.” In response to the pivot from in-person to virtual interviews, one of SPS’s Lead Tech Recruiters, Dave Elliston, addressed best interview practices, networking tips, and highlighted common pitfalls to avoid. In addition to Dave’s recruiting experience, he also spent several years in higher education teaching professional development courses, so his style and cadence was conversational, engaging, and easily accessible to an audience of high school and college-aged students. The audience especially appreciated Dave’s ability to weave personal experiences into the conversation.
After the main presentation, a panel of SPS employees took questions from the audience. To offer different perspectives in the interview process, the panel was composed of another recruiter, a manager from the SPS Technology team who has supervised Aspirations students in the past, and a current SPS student intern.
Popular questions included:
- How to answer common interview questions like “tell me about yourself.”
When discussing yourself, tie your professional experience to your values and how they relate to the organization’s mission. You should not read your resume bullet by bullet, instead focus on referring to features in your resume that blend with the position you are seeking.
- How to answer “what are your weaknesses?”
Interviewers do not expect you to be perfect and this question is not a trap. It is desirable to see an employee committed to learning. Therefore, it is suggested you highlight skills that you are currently developing. Why would those skills be relevant to the role you’re discussing?
- Should you always ask questions at the end of an interview?
Early in the interview process, you should have questions. Find out if you fit with the company culture, learn more about the job’s day-to-day or understand the make-up of your team.
You Can Watch Video Here
In short, the interview should be a conversation. Have a back and forth with your interviewer to determine whether you are the right match for each other.
Much has changed over the last two years, including the way we connect with each other. As it turns out, however, it may be comforting to learn that many of the tried-and-true practices still win out in interviews:
- Do your homework prior to interviews
- Curate stories that showcase your skills
- Practice your answers but don’t memorize
- Test your technology and be ready early; this is equivalent to a test drive to your interview location
- Be conscious of your background and lighting
- Dress appropriately, from head to toes
- Ask about the next steps and thank your interviewers
According to feedback from participants, we learned that audience members gained advice that helped them feel successful in an upcoming interview. When asked about the value of the webinar, here’s what two participants had to say:
“I learned the proper etiquette to use when interviewing. Knowing what looks good to interviewers is super valuable knowledge that I will be able to apply in future interviews.”
“The most valuable thing I learned was probably relating to the resume. As I’ve been applying for internships, it’s always difficult to figure out what to include on my resume and what to leave out. Jennie’s example was really helpful and will definitely be something I apply in the future.”
Stay tuned for future career readiness offerings.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with topic suggestions or an offer to partner to support youth with technology education and career aspirations.
About SPS Commerce: The mission of SPS Commerce is to connect all retail trading partners through the easiest-to-join and use network, freeing them to focus on what they do best. Our software as a service, cloud based, products allow our more than 350,000 trading partners to share content critical to their businesses. Find out more about SPS Commerce at www.spscommerce.com. For a direct link to career postings, click here.
About Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence:
The Center exists to encourage Minnesota youth and adults to pursue careers in I.T. and computer science. Through collaboration with the tech industry, our partners, and educators; we seek out, develop, and provide low or no-cost resources that teach relevant, high demand, and applicable I.T. workforce skills.
About Minnesota Aspirations in Computing: MNAiC provides employer partners with numerous options to inspire, engage, and empower high school students throughout the state to become our next, best Minnesota-grown technologists. The 10-year program has influenced thousands of students who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary, to pursue a STEM career. MNAiC partnerships are especially committed to the involvement of BIPOC individuals. Since 2012 the program has recognized over 700 remarkable students for their technology achievements and interests. SPARCS events, mentor matches, job shadow experiences, and internships, are utilized to achieve talent pipeline strategies. The program is closely affiliated with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).