Here are 8 tips for interviewing, getting hired, and starting a new job remotely, according to a college grad who just went through it

Here are 8 tips for other college grads on a similar path, and how they can best use them to succeed virtually.Lauren Lee
  • Interviewing, getting hired, and onboarding virtually can be a challenging experience, especially as a new college graduate.
  • I have been working at Business Insider for three weeks and went through the entire process remotely.
  • Because of my unconventional path, I was able to pick up essential skills in job finding, networking, virtual interviews, and communication.
  • Here are 8 tips on making the most out of a remote internship or job for new graduates.

I was in the depths of job searching when my school announced a remote spring quarter and graduation. My family called me every day that week, strategizing how to buy more time and wait out the deplorable effects of the pandemic on the job market. I spent hours parsing through "Companies still hiring" spreadsheets and scheduling numerous networking calls with peers.

Finally, two months before graduation, I got an email from Business Insider. A few rounds of interviews and several weeks later, I was hired on as an editorial partnerships fellow, remotely joining around 40 other fellows nationwide.

After going through interviewing, hiring, and onboarding completely virtually, I've compiled a few nuggets of wisdom about the process, and how to make the most out of the situation we're in. Here are 8 tips for other college grads on a similar path, and how they can best use them to succeed virtually. Advertisement

Network like nobody's watching

Job searching when companies are rethinking job openings or in hiring freezes is definitely less than ideal, but it's important to continue establishing connections even when companies aren't actively recruiting. People are generally excited to talk about their work, and it's even better when you show a genuine interest in what they do. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to find gaps in your skillset for desired jobs, and revisit those relationships once you beef up your resume.

Though several companies I was interviewing with told me they were no longer hiring, I continued to reach out to peers and attend info sessions. I cold messaged people on LinkedIn and networked via chat. I operated like everything was absolutely normal, which was essential for morale.

As someone who's networked outside of this pandemic, I found these conversations to be much different. Because I knew that their companies weren't hiring, I was able to ask candid questions about their work without an underlying desperation for a job. It was liberating to ask things out of pure curiosity. And, if you ask thoughtful questions, most people remember your sincere efforts to get to know them.
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Before interviews, do your due diligence and come with good questions

Just as much as a company is evaluating you in an interview, you're evaluating the company. Coming with in-depth questions shows that you did your research — and makes for less awkward conversations. This is especially important for remote jobs. Understanding a team's workflow, preferred methods of communication, and long-term goals in a virtual setting will help you determine if this remote role will be a good opportunity.

I'm not suggesting you spend hours and hours memorizing random company facts, but performing even a basic sweep of values, culture, and updates can go a long way. Think of it as a check with yourself: Does the company align with what you're looking for? What are the growth opportunities? Can I still get a good experience remotely? This is especially vital for new grads, so prepare accordingly.

Don't arrive early to virtual interviews

Virtual interviews vary significantly from in-person interviews, mostly because there's not a time crunch when it comes to commuting onsite. While there are many tips to nailing the virtual interview, sitting in a chat before anyone else has arrived is not one of them. There is no lobby to sit in and collect your thoughts after a long commute, so you can use this time more effectively now. Advertisement

My worst experiences interviewing virtually happened after I sat by my computer hours before the interview, ruminating over the potential brainteasers my interviewer would ask or panicking over answers to possible questions I didn't think to look up. Overthinking was my worst enemy, much less an unproductive use of time.

Because of my anxious tendencies, I began to close my laptop and walk around my house right before an interview. I wouldn't think at all about the upcoming call — instead, I'd chat with my mom about dinner plans or sit outside with my dog. This helped clear my mind and calm my nerves, making the interview much more natural and relaxed.

Be upfront about when you're ready to start

Once you're hired, it's important to ask questions about agreements, including start dates, contracts, working hours, and more. Be honest and transparent, and politely ask about any arrangements you might need moving forward. This not only helps you establish working conditions that will help you thrive, but also helps the company plan for your first week of onboarding.Advertisement

For example, I knew I would be busy wrapping up school and moving out in June, so I asked if there was flexibility in my start date. Luckily, Insider has a system where they start orientation the Monday of every week, which allows all fellows and new hires to start on any Monday they choose. Because of this accommodation, I was able to comfortably graduate and move out of my home.

Get acquainted with your work laptop and company accounts before the first day

The first day of work can be filled with a whirlwind of emotions, but frustration with technology shouldn't be one. Having all of your accounts set up before you start work can save you hours of unnecessary stress, as well as time to get those things squared away before you have to do actual work.

I received several emails from Business Insider before my first day, ensuring that my paperwork was filed and my work computer was shipped to my house. I had instructions on how to set up my accounts several days before, so I was able to login early on. Advertisement

This was enormously helpful on my first day with my manager, because I was able to recall and solidify my understanding of company-wide organization tools, content management systems, and communication methods as she was walking me through it. This helped me ask better questions upfront and get the resources I needed to familiarize myself.

Be active on Slack

There's nothing quite like walking into a room full of people who are mingling and making inside jokes as you awkwardly lurk in the background. Most work communication platforms feel a bit like this when you get started, but don't let that deter you from making a good first impression. Give a friendly introduction to your coworkers and make your presence known. In my personal experience, everyone is excited to meet you and learn more about you. As long as you show a concerted effort, your coworkers will be receptive to your enthusiasm.

Beyond the first impression, one of my team members gave me valuable advice for communicating on Slack — over communicate. Whether that's adding a pizza emoji for lunch breaks or connecting your Google Calendar, it's helpful to provide as much context to coworkers without them having to ask. Set reminders to do daily check-ins and let your team know what your workload is for that day. While communication and transparency are the bread and butter of productivity in any work setting, it's especially vital for remote working. Advertisement

Make time for trainings and fellowship hangouts

You're only an intern a few times in your life, so make it count! Attend intern and new hire happy hours, willingly sit through training sessions, and reach out to other fellows. It's comforting to have people with shared experiences around you, so take the time to meet other interns who you can lean on for support. Good companies will provide avenues for you to get to know your fellow peers, so take advantage of it.

In my second week, the interns in our vertical made a group chat, where we can drop in funny anecdotes, ask "silly" questions, and send shout outs to interns who are killing it. While we don't always end up talking for long, it's always nice to know that you have friends going through the same pains of starting a new internship remotely.

Stay positive and make the best out of the situation

It's easy to be hard on yourself when you're starting a new job, and it's especially difficult when you don't have any physical support around you to keep your head up. Don't sweat the small stuff and remember that you're not alone — everyone is adjusting to working remotely. Advertisement

There were days when I didn't know what event was happening, who I should ask, and what Slack conversation I missed. I felt lonely, unmotivated, and lost. However, it was helpful to channel my frustrations into learning about my weaknesses and thinking about how I can adjust my own workflow to feel less anxious throughout the day. Whether that's taking a walk when I'm blocked or moving my work setting from the kitchen to my room, every day is a new opportunity to learn and grow.

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