Students are spending more time on their electronic devices than ever before. With virtual lectures, online assignments and tests monitored via laptop cameras, both students and teachers are trying to navigate this new learning style as they go. Using Zoom as a main form of interaction and communication on the academic front has made for a new classroom dynamic as the software allows people to see and hear each other on the screen all at once. For instance, students must avoid at all costs the dreaded accidental unmute or they will never be able to show their face on that Zoom call again. No one wants to be featured on a YouTube “Zoom Video Calls Gone Wrong” reel either, but wearing a fuzzy blanket wrapped around your head and shoulders during class could make you a contender. 

Although there are a number of uncertainties that we continue to face in the digital world of Zoom, it is becoming more prevalent in the educational and professional realms. As a result, we must become more aware of how we present ourselves virtually. Here are a few recommended do’s and don’ts for students and teachers to follow as we participate in online interviews and classes:




  • Set up lighting that illuminates your face and doesn’t create shadows 
  • Eat or drink during an interview, or when you’re on camera during class
  • Make sure whatever room you’re in is tidy (clean background)
  • Have a pet or another person in the room with you (too distracting)
  • Wear the same clothes you would wear if the class/interview had been in person
  • Be slouched in bed or fidgeting with a rotating chair
  • Turn your “mute” button on if you have excessive background noise, and turn it off only when you are speaking
  • Use the Zoom camera to fix your hair or makeup – people will see you! (TIP: If you want to do a last minute touch up before a Zoom begins, use the Photo Booth app! Just make sure that if you already have Zoom open your “start video” button is off)
  • Be conscious of your facial expressions, especially when answering questions during an interview. As visible body language is more limited on a screen, facial expression and tone of voice can make all the difference.
  • Be looking at your phone or reading from other tabs on your computer


One thing Zoom and other online resources cannot supply is the benefit of experiencing candid face-to-face interaction in the traditional classroom environment.The rapid clicking of keyboards, the scratching of pens and pencils on paper, the quiet whispers so unsuccessfully muffled in the back of the room all vanish in the age of digital schooling. These byproducts of being confined in a room while receiving an influx of new and challenging information can make the process a lot less intimidating when you look around and see others going through the same struggle. It can feel a bit unsettling to be deprived of that contact and dehumanizing the educational environment we have been accustomed to for so long.

Students are not the only ones having to assimilate as teachers struggle to connect with their students as much as students do with each other. When most students refrain from showing their face on calls, teachers are left lecturing to a blank screen for entire class periods. This can make them feel all the more isolated from their students, and simply turning your camera on at the beginning of class to wish your professor “good morning” can remind students to show kindness and camaraderie during these confusing times. The reassurance of turning to someone when one is struggling to understand a concept still exists on online platforms through new resources such as virtual office hours and online tutoring. These resources are available through the University, but the Career Center staff also offers resources for students in order to help them “develop skills, and connect with opportunities related to their professional endeavours”. 

Mary Lowrey, a representative from the Career Center shared how the availability and manner of accessing these resources has changed this year with the shift to virtual communication. She mentioned the use of InterviewStream, “a virtual mock interview platform […] that allows students to record themselves going through a mock interview.” Once the mock interview is over, students are able to watch a recording of the interview so that they may try to improve both their “nonverbal communication […] as well as the content and delivery of their responses.” Lowrey has noticed that candidates in many of the virtual interviews tend to “read from notes rather than answer conversationally”, which she discourages. “Relying on notes or reading responses is not [recommended],” she said. The best piece of advice Lowrey offers for students preparing for virtual interviews is for them to prepare as they normally would and find “a location that has reliable internet, good lighting and acoustics, and no distractions.” She pointed out that in the online setting especially, location and background become “the overall image” that represents the candidate and can make a difference in how they are perceived. The Career Center is a great source to turn to not only for questions about interviews, but for multiple career fairs for guidance in job-searching techniques, choosing a major and planning a career.


As we experiment with new technological advancements in learning, it will serve us well to keep an open mind and ask lots of questions. Ask for further clarification rather than making an assumption, whether it be in the classroom or in a professional setting. With the rise of virtual platforms, we are becoming exceedingly aware of how we are perceived visually and conversationally and may not know how to adjust. The resources and techniques discussed above are a great way to start moving forward in navigating these new unknowns. Leaping into such unknowns can be exciting and intimidating, but know we are all experiencing similar trials and will all rally through this together.