It’s is extremely likely either now or at some point in your career, you’ll have an interview with a potential employer that it will have to be carried out remotely.This is accentuated especially in this current climate where for the foreseeable future at least your first few interactions with a company will take place either over the phone or through video applications such as Zoom or Google Hangouts.
If you find the idea of this interview format intimidating, you can take solace in the fact that other job seekers will be relatively inexperienced with this type of application process too. In comparison to in-person interviews, there is a bit of drawback in that you don’t have the benefit of being in the same room as the other person and therefore 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 not the end of the world. First and foremost, you won’t have to worry about mapping out a route to an office you’ve never been to before and potentially run the risk of being late. If you do somehow manage to be late for an interview you’re having in your living room/kitchen/shed/office, it’s mind-blowing that you’ve managed to read this far. That provides us with a nice segue into our first remote interview tip.
1. Get your setup right 💻
The first thing you should focus on is ensuring you’re set up properly. If you’re going to be on video, make sure that the lighting in the room is on point. Be sure to avoid any harsh lighting behind you, as this will turn you into a creepy shadowy silhouette.
Try to ensure you’re 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 smelly clothes in the corner may have nothing to do directly with your ability to do the job well, it doesn’t make a good first impression.
Tell people you live with that you’re doing an interview that will go on for a certain amount of time and ask them politely to leave you in peace. If there’s a lock on the door of the room you’re in, even better.
2. Dress for success 👔
Oftentimes, you will have received a bit of context around dress code for interviews from the recruiter and whether they’re looking for smart/smart casual but 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 not do you any harm whatsoever.
Also, if you’re going to go to the trouble of dressing formally, make sure that you cover both your upper and lower body, unlike this interviewee on an American breakfast show. Yes, tracksuits and activewear are comfortable to wear around the house and may be appropriate working-from-home attire but it won’t do you any harm to throw something a little bit more professional for a couple of hours. Not only is looking the part crucial to making a good first impression to the interviewer, but it also helps you get into the right mindset to have a formal conversation.
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 in remote interviews that you wouldn’t get with office ones is that you can have these notes printed off or transcribed in front of you as a reference point.
It’s also common to be asked to walk your interviewer through your CV, so it’s helpful to have this printed off and accessible too. Put them somewhere that’s visible but not directly in front of you and try to keep them brief and in bullet points rather than fully written out. By doing this, you should be able to speak and flow through sentences naturally in the interview as well as crucially maintaining eye contact with the interviewer.
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.