How to design a ‘cheat sheet’ to help you ace your next virtual interview

A “cheat sheet” is an interview hack you can use to ace your next virtual interview. While virtual interviews are less formal than traditional in person interviews, virtual interviews allow you to shine with the help of aids you usually can not use. 

Think of a cheat sheet as a bullet point list you can secretly refer to without the interviewer knowing.

Designing a cheat sheet to use for a virtual interview will help you show you’re a top notch candidate who has done their research.  

So how does a cheat sheet help you? By using a well designed interview aid, you can avoid those long awkward pauses while you try and remember the year the company you are interviewing for was founded

How to design the perfect ‘cheat sheet’

As previously stated, your interviewer should not know you are using any type of interview aid. If you write down a bunch of information on a piece of paper, the other person will quickly notice you are reading and not interviewing naturally. 

By design, interviews are made to elicit your ability to deal with pressure and form intelligible thoughts on your own. Because of this goal, most job interviewers do not allow you to bring in notes to your interview.

This is where the virtual interview allows you to discreetly use a cheat sheet to help you stay on track. 

Use bold bullet points 

Before any interview, you need to prepare by rehearsing potential questions and answers as well as doing a mock interview with family or friends. Virtual interviews are no different. The same amount of preparation and practice is still essential. 

When you design your cheat sheet, use bold bullet points to remind you of your pre-rehearsed talking points. When your notes are bullet-pointed, you can quickly and casually look down without appearing you are looking at notes. 

In addition, you can also design a digital cheat sheet on your computer screen that you can casually glance at. If your eyes shift from the left to right as you read through a paragraph, you will quickly be found out and may be disqualified from the interview.

Things you should include on your cheat sheet

As you design your cheat sheet, there are certain things you should include to give you the upper hand during the interview. Be sure to include the following information to help you ace your next virtual interview.

The company history and unique details

Use the cheat sheet to help you remember the main points about the company you are interviewing for. Before the interview, understand the company’s history and culture to include when it was founded, by whom, current goals and missions, and any other company information that would be pertinent to mention in an interview. 

Do your homework on the company ahead of time, but give yourself the upper hand by being able to rattle off statistics and organizational information without relying solely on memory.

Your resume and professional development

You should have a good grasp of your resume, including your prior work history, qualifications, education, and skillset. However, during an interview, there are moments when you may lose focus and forget to mention an essential part of your resume. 

Use the cheat sheet to bullet point some of your professional development and education to ensure they are included during your interview.

Questions for the interviewer

If you have a few well thought out questions for the interviewer at the end of the interview, it can increase your chances of looking competent and energetic about the position. This is not the time to ask how many vacation days a year you get. 

Use this time to ask questions such as, “If I am fortunate enough to get this position, what additional steps could I take right now to ensure I’m successful?”

By asking how you can improve yourself to benefit the company speaks volumes and may be difficult to remember if you don’t have it written down.

Use a cheat sheet with caution

To be clear, you should use a cheat sheet at your own risk. In the best-case scenario, you should not need a cheat sheet during an interview. However, when used appropriately and discreetly, it can give you an edge above your competitors if additional details are added that may be difficult to remember.

If your interviewer explicitly says you may not use notes or a cheat sheet during the interview, I would avoid using a cheat sheet. Use the skills and abilities you already have and practice ahead of time to ace your next virtual interview.