UMSL Business Blog

“Network Error,” The New “Dog Ate My Homework”

By Dylan Wibbenmeyer,

No, you’re not crazy for being intimidated by online job interviews and opportunities. What’s it like to thrust yourself into the world of business during a pandemic? The simple answer: difficult. But the problem is, it’s more complicated than any simple answer could give you.

Why is it so challenging to stand out? For starters, the economy. As the economy reaches high unemployment, we see an increase in the labor pool looking for work. Second, the use of online interviews and applications. Many of us are used to old-school style interviews. Face-to-face questions in a professional manner. COVID-19 has flipped this system upside-down. Online interviews are regular, making you lose the personal touch and influence normal interviews give you.

1) Dress the part, even if it’s online.

This may seem like commonsense, but it’s more important than you may think. When you’re not seen completely on screen, it’s easy to skip the suit pants. Although the sweatpants you have on may not be seen, it’s hard to be truly in interview mode without the full outfit on. Just like your message in the interview, keep your look consistent.

2) Secure that internet connection.

One of the newest difficulties of working in a pandemic is that pesky internet connection. Although internet problems are more than common in today’s business world, having a stable connection can set you apart. It’s difficult for a company to hire someone in today’s new reality knowing that their internet may lag out in meetings with clients. So, secure that connection as soon as you can. Sure, maybe bad connection has become a valid excuse in today’s world. But keep using it, and it will become the new “my dog ate my homework” excuse.

3) Preach on your flexibility.

As we’ve seen the major changes in the world, many of us changed our entire lifestyle. This is an asset to you and your resume. Flexibility is an important virtue and you now have experience to use thanks to COVID-19. Remind your interviewer of the new challenges this has brought on and how you remained flexible to overcome them.

4) Accept your surroundings.

Don’t be embarrassed by the hiccups that come with online interviews. Interviewers have been dealing with the same things you are, and it can bridge a personal connection between the two. So, when your dog starts barking, apologize but don’t sweat it too much. They get it. Don’t allow it to alter your mood for the interview or lose hope in your chances.


Yes, it’s still important to use your normal interview skills. Professionalism, positivity and preparedness go a long way. Don’t consider this a new style of interviewing, consider it a supplemental version of the classic interview. For more classic interview tips to supplement your new style with, visit UMSL Career Services.