Perspective on the New Virtual State of Higher Ed Career Prep and Interviewing – Fireside Chat Recap

Monique Mahler | May 19, 2020

Adversity breeds innovation

“This is the way of the future and it will take time for people to adapt,” stated Ron Wilson, CEO of interviewstream, when he sat down to chat with Ellen Baker, Career Development Director for MMCI & Biostatistics Programs and Executive Coach at Duke University’s Health Systems. 

Ellen and Ron chatted about the current and future state of career prep and interviewing for college and university students, along with their perspectives on the completely changed job market. Below is a quick recap and sound bites from the full discussion.

Pivoting to a Virtual World

The current pandemic has affected everyone dramatically and has made innovation necessary.  In a time of uncertainty, people have had to adapt new ways of thinking, learning, teaching, working and simply living their daily lives. 

Across all industries, change, often very quick change, has been necessary. Ellen noted that universities have never been the first to innovate however this is a unique time for us all.  Her program at Duke University was already running 30% virtually, however other programs with no virtual content have had to pivot to online learning in a mere two weeks. Ellen’s program for example changed from 100 televisits per month to thousands per week (more than 10x the volume in a week than the program was used to seeing in a month). And from Ellen’s perspective, she does not think there is any coming back from this new approach to learning and educating- at least not completely.

How Job Seekers (and students) Prepare for this New Remote Hiring Experience

Integrating a video interviewing software into college and university programs like Ellen’s, allows students to prepare for a completely remote interviewing experience. All of her students that found jobs and internships this year were hired 100% virtually. Companies are continuing to move forward in hiring their next set of interns and new employees using technology like interviewstream, who was also the first company to open their remote interviewing platform for free access to companies and schools alike.

Ellen discussed that for many, especially Gen Z and Millenials who are on a device all day, every day, the transition to working (and learning) from home day to day has been easier than one might expect.  However, being recorded and then listening and watching yourself back can still be a difficult experience, even for those that grew up in the digital age (and for most of their formative years were on Snapchat and Instagram every day).

Online career preparation, like interview prep, allows students to review their mistakes, count things like verbal filler words and work to correct any challenges in their responses. Using a tool like this also prepares them, and gets them comfortable over time with seeing themselves “on video.”  And even though it can be uncomfortable, tools like this give them the ability to enter the job market read for the completely virtual interview- and they truly need the practice because if they don’t see the challenges in their interview, they can’t fix them.

What’s Next for Colleges & Universities (especially in the Fall of 2020) and interviewstream

We are living in a world of uncertainty, and plans need to be made to continue to move forward and create a new normal. Universities are preparing for the possibility of continuing remote learning into the fall. While some things lend themselves to virtual learning, some things do not.  Although challenging, there are always creative ways to make it work. Ellens’ program at Duke for example is planning a completely remote orientation for their new students in the fall.

interviewstream is continuing to create more innovations to improve the entire interview experience for our partners in higher education, along with companies and K12 school districts. The content in each of our platforms, including interview prep, is being adjusted to include more industry specific information and providing deeper interview preparation solutions for not just students but also candidates and hiring teams.

interviewstream is also working to create a community that enriches the hiring experience and creates better outcomes for all.

Top Five Tips for Job Seekers

Throughout the chat, Ellen shared some great tips from her years of experience in multiple industries, including:

  1. The human factor has always been and will always be the most important thing. Network, meet people, talk to people, everywhere- you can still do that virtually right now, in fact it’s almost easier and a lot of people are looking to connect.
  2. Get comfortable with technology and virtual interaction for your interviews because this is how it is now and it’s not likely to change. Learn to use the tools and be confident when you use them!
  3. Record a professional voicemail message so recruiters have a positive first encounter. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference.
  4. Make sure your virtual background is appropriate. A beach in Bali does not lend itself to an interview (nor does your favorite superhero fan art).
  5. While on a virtual interview, close the door and ALWAYS wear pants! Interviews are full of potential distractions already- don’t add to them.

Final Thoughts on the Future Job Market

Both Ron and Ellen shared their thoughts on the 2021 job market. Ron said he is cautiously optimistic that we will see recovery while all learning to adapt to a new environment.  Ellen shared that this is her third recession and she has seen how hardship breeds entrepreneurship. She believes we will see a lot of change because we have found better ways to do things- and that this change is a good thing for all of us.

“Adversity breeds innovations,” stated Ellen. And we at interviewstream are all nodding in agreement, from our home offices, as we get started with our next virtual interview for an open role on our team.

To check out the full fireside chat, #podcast style, click here.

About The Author

Monique Mahler is the VP, Marketing & Partnerships at interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.


interviewstream is dedicated to the success of more than 900 clients from emerging businesses, midsize companies, large enterprises, colleges, and universities.

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