I think it's safe to say that, at least in the initial stages of the interview process, remote hiring is here to stay. If you find the idea of this intimidating, you can take solace in the fact that other job seekers will be relatively inexperienced with this type of application process as well.
In comparison to in-person interviews, there is a drawback that by not being in the same room as the other person, you miss out on getting non-verbal cues that are hugely helpful in establishing a smooth two-way dialogue.
However, the change to this interview process is far from the end of the world. First and foremost, you won’t have to worry about mapping a route to an office you’ve never been to before potentially running the risk of being late and you can reference notes you've prepared without being too obvious.
We've spoken with recruiters from our partner companies to get their insights into what they're looking for and have compiled a short list of best practices you can use to turn your next virtual interview into a job offer.
1. Get your setup right 💻
The first thing you should focus on is ensuring you’re set up properly. You want recruiters to view you in the best light possible; both figuratively and literally. Try to take the call in a room with some natural lighting coming in and don’t forget to think about your background. Give the room a good clean to make sure that there are as few distractions as possible for the interviewer.
While a pile of clothes in the corner may have nothing to do with your ability to do the job, it doesn’t make a good first impression. Any mess in the background will only serve to distract the recruiter so it's important to give the room a good clean to make sure that there are as few distractions as possible. Failing that, the majority of video conferencing tools will allow you to blur your background or superimpose a virtual one.
The last thing you want to worry about during an interview is the audio or screen not working properly. At least an hour before, search "internet speed test" to easily check the strength of your internet connection. If it's not strong, you can improve it by plugging in your LAN cable or by asking anyone else using the internet if they'd mind disconnecting for the duration of your interview.
2. Dress for success 👔
You would have received some context regarding dress code for interviews from the recruiter and whether they’re looking for smart/smart casual. However, if there’s any doubt whatsoever, you’re better off overdressing. Even if places have a casual dress code, which the vast majority of tech companies do, looking your best and dressing as if you’re going to a formal interview will do you no harm.
Yes, you can probably get away with wearing something formal on top and pyjama or tracksuit bottoms. However, wearing the right attire can put you in the correct frame of mind and encourage a positive first impression. So, even if you know it’s a phone interview, and the other person will never see you, dress up anyway. You never know when someone might want to switch to video. And, if nothing else, dressing up will put you in the “interview” mindset.
3. Have your notes ready 📝
It goes without saying but as with normal interviews, preparing extensively is absolutely everything. Do your research on the company and prepare answers for questions that are likely to come up. A benefit of remote interviews you don't get with in-person ones is that you can have these notes printed off or transcribed in front of you as a reference point.
Whilst it's important to keep notes handy, try not to refer to them too often and make it obvious. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of reading from them directly which makes it difficult for the conversation to flow naturally. Ideally, you should only use them only to remind you of points you have already practiced.
Interviews regardless of where they take place can be a daunting proposition. It’s natural to feel a bit of anxiety when staring into a camera and this is a completely rational emotion to have.
Pre-interview nerves are actually really healthy and can often be a catalyst to a great performance. Remote interviews, while not a new concept by any means, look like they’re here to stay not only in the short-term but beyond that too.