Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Masters recruiting is going mostly online. This is good news for candidates: you can communicate directly with school representatives from the safety of your home, get personal advice, and make a good impression that can help your application.
While attending virtual meetings is easier in some ways, it is important to remember that they are no less formal than in-person ones. You should be mindful of how you present yourself, and prepare ahead of time so you can make the most of the opportunity.
1. Show up for your virtual meeting.
This should not need to be said – but it does. Whether meeting a grad school representative or a recruiter for a new job or internship, failing to attend for no good reason is the quickest way to make a poor impression, even online.
It is easier to change your plans at the last minute when it comes to virtual meetings. But you should respect school representatives’ time and show up.
Put the event on your calendar and set an alarm so that you do not get distracted and forget to “go” to your online meetings. If something unexpected comes up, be sure to notify the host as soon as possible. If you communicate in a timely manner, you may be able to reschedule for another time.
2. Think about what you are showing on screen.
Your outfit matters, of course. Dress smartly and professionally. Look your best, just as you would for an in-person event.
You can find Instagram posts of people working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic with a nice shirt on top and shorts underneath. But it is better not to risk it. What if something unexpected comes up and you have to get up during the meeting? Look smart from head to toe.
The background is also important. The view of your home is another way admissions representatives can learn more about you. You should show a tidy space, possibly with some signs of your hobbies or accomplishments. Books or house plants always look good. But do not overload the background so much that it takes the attention away from you.
3. Learn the basics of good framing and lighting.
Set yourself up at a desk or table so that your laptop’s screen is level with your torso. Sit upright, squarely facing your laptop, and look into the camera. Tilt and adjust your screen (or freestanding webcam) so that your head is neither too low in the shot, nor cut off at the top.
Whether it is daytime or evening, you should have a light source falling on your face. Avoid lighting from behind, which can make you appear as a dark silhouette. Overhead lighting is also not ideal – it can be unflattering unless paired with a secondary source directed at you. A desk lamp in front of you is the best solution.
4. Troubleshoot the technical difficulties.
Showing up and looking sharp is only half the battle. With online meetings, you should not overlook the issues that a poor internet connection can cause. After your conversation, school representatives should remember the great questions you asked – not how your connection was cutting off all the time.
If at all possible, you should use an ethernet connection via cable. If you do have to rely on wi-fi, ask everyone in your home to temporarily disconnect their devices so you have more bandwidth.
Additionally, find out if using a mobile connection is an option for you. 3G and 4G networks can perform better than wi-fi in some cases – that could be your plan B. Check whether you have enough mobile data and whether you can successfully set up a hotspot with your mobile device.
Whatever network technology you use, you should test it ahead of time so that there are no surprises during the meeting.
5. Maintain a positive attitude.
When meeting someone remotely, you may need to put a little extra effort into establishing rapport. In addition to having informed questions, it is a good idea to be positive and personable. Maintain eye contact and use welcoming body language.
Remember that admissions representatives want to see who you are and what your personality might bring to their school’s culture. Conversely, this is your chance to find out if the school is a good fit for you. Be professional, but do not be afraid to be yourself.
Virtual one-to-one meetings are a chance to start on your Masters journey even before the Covid-19 pandemic is over. Make the most of this opportunity. Resolve technical issues ahead of time, show up, show a positive attitude – and you’ll be well on your way to your dream school.
To stay informed, follow our dedicated page of resources on the Covid-19 pandemic.