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July 16, 2020

Ace Your Medical School Virtual Interviews (VITA) - Technology Tips

The Savvy Premed

We’ve all had those moments when technology fails us - the projector craps out before your big presentation, the Facetime call drops right before you ask the other person on a date, or autocorrect turns ‘meditate’ into ‘menstruate.’

We’ve all been there. It’s usually not a huge deal, and we accept it as the trade-off for the immense power and convenience that technology affords us every day.

But with the AAMC’s Virtual Interview Tool for Admissions VITA, and your medical school virtual interviews in general, there’s a lot more at stake when it comes to a potential technological failure.

In last week’s post, we covered how to look your best on screen during virtual interviews, including wardrobe, lighting, and backdrop, and now we’re back with more tips to ensure that your virtual interview isn’t jeopardized by faulty technology.  

Ace Your Medical School Virtual Interviews (VITA) - Technology Tips

TIP #1 - CONSCIOUSLY SLOW DOWN AND ENUNCIATE YOUR SPEECH

Remember that you are talking through the internet and sometimes our voices can get distorted. The game “telephone” literally originated because of this phenomenon. Don’t let your interview turn into a game of telephone. Make sure to e-nun-ci-ate and avoid speaking too rapidly.

TIP #2 - DO A TECHNOLOGY CHECK

Place your camera at eye level and run a quick test of both your camera and microphone to ensure all of your equipment is working correctly.

Use earpieces instead of clunky headphones, and keep your mic offscreen. You’re not hosting a YouTube channel or podcast, after all.

After your first practice recording, you can check how your audio sounds and sort out where you need to conduct your interview to avoid hearing your neighbors yelling in the background. You can also check to make sure your camera and internet connection aren’t causing any issues with video quality.

Make sure you’re familiar with the interviewing platform ahead of time, whether it be Zoom or HireVue for the VITA. Make sure you know how to turn off your device’s notifications or mute them during your interview, and of course, be sure your devices have adequate battery power for the duration of the interview. If the interview is live, you likely will receive an invitation, so be sure to download any software or plug-ins you will need.

TIP #3 - HAVE A GOOD WAY TO COMMUNICATE TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

If a technical error were to occur, have a way to communicate with the person you will be speaking with, either by phone or by email.

If there is an unplanned physical distraction (loud noise, siren, pets, children, etc.), apologize and request a moment to attend to the interruption, if needed. Also, make sure you know ahead of time how to mute the conversation.

For the VITA, AAMC has an entire page dedicated to technology disruptions. Make sure to adhere to the AAMC’s protocol and notify them right away if you need to report any issues.

TIP #4 - HAVE SOME BACKUP PLANS

To avoid huge technical mess ups, connect to a phone hotspot to ensure your internet doesn't drop off and keep a backup device ready to go.

Please note that your cellphone should only be used as an emergency backup, or in the instance when a laptop or desktop is simply unavailable. In general, a cellphone is not a good option for a video interview. You want to use a computer device — on a solid surface — to avoid unwanted movement and distractions.

TIP #5 - CONSIDER INVESTING IN BETTER EQUIPMENT

We know that this equipment is not cheap, and you don’t need these items to perform well. The AAMC says that all you need for the VITA is “any internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smart phone. Both a video and microphone must be available.”

But if you have the means and are looking to upgrade your equipment anyway, it could certainly help you perform at your best.

Laptop Stands and External Keyboards

The best position for your camera is slightly above your eyes, which is more flattering for your appearance and better for posture. You could stack books to raise your laptop, but consider a laptop stand (~$55). If raising your laptop makes it awkward to use the keyboard, consider an external keyboard  (~$40).

A High-Quality Webcam

With features including autofocus, automatic brightness, and color correction, an external webcam (~$70) offers better quality than built-in cameras on many computers.

A High-Quality Microphone

Built-in mics catch a lot of surrounding noise, but external mics typically fix that issue. An external microphone (~$45) can capture your voice’s natural warmth and help people on the other side of the call hear you more clearly. Many of these mics offer a convenient mute button, so you can practice good etiquette in virtual interviews by muting yourself whenever you’re not speaking.

A Better Router or a Mesh-Networking Kit

Poor internet connections or slow speeds can make your video freeze or drop. If you haven’t upgraded your router (~$200) in the past four years, we recommend doing so before the VITA and other medical school virtual interviews.

Ultimately, certain technological issues will be beyond your control, but we hope this post will help you be as prepared as possible.

Have any questions about the technology you’ll need for the VITA and other medical school virtual interviews? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!

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