This blog post was created by the Pharmacy Student Forum Career and Leadership Development Advisory Group in order to give tips and tricks for succeeding in a virtual environment during showcases and interviews. With Midyear and interview season quickly approaching, there’s no better time to brush up on some business etiquette and what that looks like in a virtual setting. Many programs opted to remain virtual this year, so we gathered some tips on how to effectively navigate this environment.
- Test your technology before your virtual event.
- A crucial step to a successful virtual interview is using the proper hardware and software. Make sure you know what platform will need to be used and download it ahead of time. You should also test your microphone, speakers, and camera prior to the event. Doing this ahead of time can help identify any issues that might need to be addressed. Lastly, test your internet connection and do your best to connect to a WiFi or ethernet connection that will allow for the best possible interaction during your event.
- Minimize background distractions by using a virtual background.
- Many people find themselves in a less than ideal location when joining virtual meetings. Sometimes being in public areas or busy homes can make it challenging to focus, which can also cause distractions for individuals on the other side of the call. To minimize distractions during your meetings, consider using a blurred background or a virtual background provided by your college of pharmacy.
- Make a list of goals beforehand.
- Midyear can be a daunting environment to experience for the first time, especially virtually. Knowing what you want to accomplish beforehand will allow you to focus on other things and make meaningful connections. You may use the acronym SMART to help when creating goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.
- Research programs beforehand.
- It is important to research residency programs before approaching them at Midyear. Use the ASHP Residency Directory to discover programs across the country. What is their organizational strategy, mission, and values? How do they structure their program? What makes the program unique? What are some questions you have after researching their program?
- Visit residency program websites and sign up for virtual info sessions.
- Some residency programs have started to hold virtual info sessions about their programs. This is a great opportunity to meet residents and residency program directors prior to Midyear in a much smaller setting. Come with questions and try to ask at least one before the session ends.
- Consider doing a practice-run of a virtual interview.
- Some platforms like Zoom allow you to record your sessions. This is one way to practice your virtual interview skills. Do you look at the camera? Is the lighting distracting? Are you speaking too fast? Play back your practice run to see what you can improve before your actual interviews.
- Take notes after speaking to each program.
- Narrowing down your final application list can be challenging, and it can be hard to remember details about each program after the fact. Write down details about your conversations with residents and RPD’s so that you can reference them in letters of intent and interviews! This also allows you to remember how you felt about the culture of each program.
- Make mutual connections with residents.
- Pharmacy is a small world, so someone you know might know someone at a program even if it is across the country. Use this to your advantage to network during this season of virtual connections. Follow up with residents that you connected with to thank them for their time and ask any additional questions!
- Arriving early is key.
- It can be easy to lose track of time, especially when all it takes to attend an event is clicking a “sign-in” button, but punctuality is still a vital component of making a good impression with residency programs and potential future employers. You can also capitalize on this to receive some more individualized attention before the session begins.
- In-person etiquette still applies.
- Although we may feel more comfortable in a virtual environment by sitting in our own home, it is still important to be an engaged attendee. Treat a virtual event as if you were attending in-person so you don’t fall into the trap of being too casual. So yes, wear those professional clothes, maintain “eye contact” with the camera, sit comfortably but poised, and be an active listener! These all may seem trivial, but the subtle things go a long way to help represent yourself professionally.
Lauren Stigers, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Class of 2022
Carolyn Kusoski, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Class of 2023
Vincent Rotunno, Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy Class of 2022
Christopher Perry, Texas A&M College of Pharmacy Class of 2022
Gabriella Perez, University of Florida College of Pharmacy Class of 2022