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Nearly every weekday throughout the fall semester, dozens of students can be seen strolling across the Quad in suits and blazers, dressed not only for job interviews with employers on campus and downtown but also for the increasingly prominent digital interview. Today the hiring process often begins online through smartphones, Skype, or even pre-recorded video—these “screeners” have become the norm across private, public, and nonprofit sectors. The Career Center offers many resources to help your student prepare.

Screeners both save companies money and “democratize the recruiting process,” says Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Career Center Joseph Du Pont. By fielding candidates first over the phone or video conference, companies worldwide have the opportunity to interview a broader range of candidates than they ever have before—which benefits students as well. “These types of interviews may seem strange for some of us,” Du Pont says, “but they are increasingly seen as the norm for our children, who have had all these tools—Skype, smartphones, FaceTime—since they can remember.” Last summer, Boston College undergraduates interned everywhere from California to Uganda to Liberia, positions they secured exclusively through digital interviews.

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At the screening stage, companies are primarily interested in discovering “what the candidate knows about the company, why the candidate wants the position, and why he or she would be a good fit,” says Du Pont. Maura Quinn ’00, director of Liberty Mutual Insurance’s undergraduate campus recruiting, adds, “We’re really determining if the candidate meets our minimum qualifications.” Generally, recruiters hope to glean information about the candidate’s GPA, communication and technical skills, and previous work experience. Liberty Mutual, which visits Boston College’s campus nearly every other week throughout the fall semester, will be screening some 6,000 students to fill 800 internships in 2017.

The lack of face-to-face interaction with a screener can seem informal, but “every step of the interview process is equally important,” says Quinn, and preparation is essential.

Nearly every weekday throughout the fall semester, dozens of students can be seen strolling across the Quad in suits and blazers, dressed not only for job interviews with employers on campus and downtown but also for the increasingly prominent digital interview. Today the hiring process often begins online through smartphones, Skype, or even pre-recorded video—these “screeners” have become the norm across private, public, and nonprofit sectors. The Career Center offers many resources to help your student prepare.

Screeners both save companies money and “democratize the recruiting process,” says Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Career Center Joseph Du Pont. By fielding candidates first over the phone or video conference, companies worldwide have the opportunity to interview a broader range of candidates than they ever have before—which benefits students as well. “These types of interviews may seem strange for some of us,” Du Pont says, “but they are increasingly seen as the norm for our children, who have had all these tools—Skype, smartphones, FaceTime—since they can remember.” Last summer, Boston College undergraduates interned everywhere from California to Uganda to Liberia, positions they secured exclusively through digital interviews.

At the screening stage, companies are primarily interested in discovering “what the candidate knows about the company, why the candidate wants the position, and why he or she would be a good fit,” says Du Pont. Maura Quinn ’00, director of Liberty Mutual Insurance’s undergraduate campus recruiting, adds, “We’re really determining if the candidate meets our minimum qualifications.” Generally, recruiters hope to glean information about the candidate’s GPA, communication and technical skills, and previous work experience. Liberty Mutual, which visits Boston College’s campus nearly every other week throughout the fall semester, will be screening some 6,000 students and hire about 1,800 undergraduates into internships and entry-level roles.

The lack of face-to-face interaction with a screener can seem informal, but “every step of the interview process is equally important,” says Quinn, and preparation is essential.

Beforehand, Quinn recommends students “think of examples from your work experience and time in school that highlight core capabilities for the internship/position and transferable skills. This will help keep your answers concise and highlight your key accomplishments.” The screening is also a time to be inquisitive. “Students should be thinking, Does the company meet my minimum qualifications? It’s a good time to ask the recruiter about the company’s culture and the type of support it may provide an intern or recent graduate.” The screening is also the right time to ask about specific job responsibilities and pertinent skills: “If you do land a second interview, this information will help you prepare,” Quinn adds. She also notes that should you miss a call from an employer, “make sure your voicemail greeting is professional.”

Psychology major Kate Danyow ’18 has been through some 15 phone and video screeners for internship and job interviews. In her experience, “most of the questions at this stage have to do with presenting a thorough understanding of what the company does, what the particular position consists of, and why you’re interested.” (In September, Danyow accepted a post-college job with the information services company AlphaSights in New York, which she discovered through the Career Center.)

Skype or video-response interviews (in which the candidate films his or her answers to a given set of questions) may seem particularly challenging. For these, Du Pont advises that students dress as formally as they would for an in-person interview. Avoid conducting the interview in a residence hall with distractive backgrounds and disruptive roommates (students can book space in the Career Center). Students can bring with them a cheat sheet of written responses, which they can tape to a wall beyond their laptops. But “know your material well enough so you don’t come off as artificial,” advises Du Pont. And look into the camera when speaking. Danyow highly recommends practicing talking to yourself in the webcam. “It will feel quite strange, but getting even slightly used to it will help you feel way more comfortable.”

Students can also schedule mock interviews—by phone, in person, and on video—with Career Center staff. The Career Center offers several more interview tips here.

CAREER EXPLORATION RESOURCES

To help discover career paths and companies/industries, and to land these interviews in the first place, the Career Center offers a number of resources:

  • Résumé critiques (“Many companies today use technology that scans for code words,” says Du Pont.);

o   A year-by-year guide for students called Your Career Plan

o    Information on career and peer coaching

o   Industry-specific job and internship fairs throughout the fall;  

  • For students who find internships with organizations that are unable to provide a salary, the University’s Eagle Intern Fellowship Program offers students a $3,500 stipend.

—Zachary Jason