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Even before the pandemic enforced social distancing, interviewing could feel tense and unnatural. In the current video medium, presenting yourself well definitely requires preparation. Consider Kim Brettschneider’s thoughts here and their applicability for positions other than higher education leadership. Much of what she says can enhance our effectiveness beyond video interviews.

“Practice the way you communicate.”

Brettschneider points out that much of the polish of television professionals is the result of reflective practice. They watch how they come across, and they refine their habits to engage better and minimize distraction. We can do the same. Adjusting to a new medium in which everyone needs a self-critique might be the chance to do just that.

“Practice having your notes in view on the laptop screen.”

This tip emphasizes the importance of eye contact so that any information to which you are referring doesn’t distract from the personal connection. This is invaluable and universal. So is the humility and discipline conveyed if we assign people’s names and details they tell us enough importance to write them down. If you would maximize your effectiveness and your readiness for what comes next ON the job by writing down relevant details, why not do so quickly and discreetly during an interview?

“If life happens, roll with it.”

Brettschneider issues the challenge in a video environment lacking separation, when home interrupts the near sanctity of the interview. This is a lesson we can take with us, though. A candidate for a White House internship tells of walking bleary-eyed into his interview after a long flight, squinting at the gleam off his interviewer’s desk, and dumping a pitcher of water in the interviewer’s lap.

His fate? Bradley Patterson relaxed because he figured the interview couldn’t get any worse, got the internship opportunity, ended up assisting multiple presidents in functions that included selecting future interns, and sharing his humbling story in Ring of Power.

Something is going to happen in most of life’s important encounters that isn’t in our mental script beforehand. How we adapt says much about where our hope is, and what type of professional and servant we are going to be in an everyday situation. Breathe deeply. Choose the best of what Steven Johnson in Where Good Ideas Come From calls the adjacent possible, picking the best option you have NOW, and move on.

“Incorporate pauses.”

Brettschneider stresses this one in a video environment, perhaps because it can be a little harder to pick up on nonverbal cues. Giving our audience a chance to process and speak rather than putting a priority on dumping all the information we have to give is a valuable discipline.  Television newscaster Walter Cronkite built his level of trust with the American people in a media environment timed down to the second, yet biographer Douglas Brinkley says he did it in part by deliberately slowing down his delivery. We can learn a lot by shifting some of our focus away from what we are going to say immediately.

Practice that is closer to perfect moves us closer to better revealing what we have to offer. Career Services would be glad to help. Please reach out to eshlemanb@piedmontu.edu.

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