It’s no surprise that remote interviews are becoming more popular, and we’re even finding more ways to conduct them. Cell phone conference calls are being one-upped by video chat platforms that put you face to face from around the world, and although the technology is becoming more efficient, it’s not without its drawbacks. At the end of the day the position is still on the line, so it’s your job to understand the nuances that make remote interviews different from the in-person tradition.
Preparation is crucial for any interview, but when technology enters the picture, there’s a little more to it. Plus there are a few interview elements you’ll have to tweak a bit given the circumstances. Handling technology, choosing a location to interview from, and adjusting your body language to match a digital setting may seem like a lot to worry about. Fortunately, these videos and phone interview tips will make you a master of the remote interview.
Getting Interview Ready
The interview itself might last just a few minutes, so the bulk of the work will go into preparation. You want to appear confident and poised. Show you are ready to help the company reach that next level. Proper preparation helps settle out the nerves and lets you get your head in the game.
Prep Your Tech
As much as we rely on technology, things do not always go as planned. Choppy video feeds and clipping audio can quickly make things frustrating, which does not set an ideal tone for an interview. Whether the interview will be done over Skype, FaceTime, or a simple phone call, don’t let technical difficulties ruin your shot at your dream job; prep your tech for the interview.
Make sure your WiFi connection is strong and secure so you have adequate reception. Check your webcam and microphone on your tablet or laptop to make sure things are running properly. Even if you’ve never had issues with your chargers, having a backup will bring you some peace of mind.
Lastly, if you are interviewing over Skype or another web chat, consider your username. This will be part of your interviewer’s first impression of you, so keep it simple and professional.
Gather Your Materials
Everyone’s familiar with the panicked realization that they’ve forgotten something. To be sure this does not occur, gather all the materials you will need beforehand. Just because you are chatting from home, do not let that be an excuse to wait until the last minute.
Have your resume in front of you. Make sure your resume is fully up to date, and feel free to mark it up with highlighter and margin notes so you can refer to it for talking points. Have a list of questions to ask the interviewer about the position, the culture of the team, or the values of the company. Jot down a brag sheet that overviews some of your accomplishments and the differences you’ve made in the workplace. Having these materials on hand makes it easier to support your thesis that you’re the ideal candidate for the job.
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Choose Your Location
Remote interviews have their pros and cons, and the ability to participate from anywhere you want can be a little of both. You can go somewhere comfortable and convenient where you feel your best, but if you don’t plan in advance, you could find yourself battling distractions. The setting can make a huge difference, so choose carefully.
In addition to having a strong wireless internet connection, a nearby power outlet, and anything else you might need, the location you choose should be as quiet and private as possible. Don’t choose a Starbucks where there’s constantly loud distractions, and don’t choose a library where your conversation could be distracting other people. If you live with roommates or family, let them know you’ll be doing an interview so they keep the volume down. You could even try scheduling the interview during a time you’ll have the place to yourself.
Do a Practice Run
One of the reasons interviews tend to be so nerve-wracking is that it puts you in a new and uncomfortable situation. You can take the stress down a notch by turning it into a familiar situation. Have a trusted friend act as the remote interviewer and do a practice run exactly the way you plan to do the real thing. That means going to the location you’ve chosen and actually running through a few questions over the phone or video chat. You don’t want to be hit with missing plugins or software updates right before the interview, and the test run helps you work out the kinks.
Looking the Part
Your attire obviously doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing over the phone, but it means just as much during a video conference as it does during an in-person meeting. Look into the company culture and formulate an idea of what kind of dress is most appropriate. Since you’ll most likely do the interview sitting down, choose something that looks flattering in a seated position. You should also avoid bright colors, and consider the contrast between your clothing and the background.
Speaking and Nonverbal Communication
Body language is an important aspect of the job interview process; it’s also famously misconstrued through remote conversation. Video interviews don’t completely eliminate body language, but they do change its dynamic. You can’t offer a firm handshake through your webcam, but you can still make a strong first impression with the way you communicate both verbally and nonverbally.
There are a few unique aspects to remote interviews that affect the way you should speak and listen. You never know when service could get choppy or muffled or cut out entirely, so speak clearly and at a steady pace. Pause for a second when your interviewer finishes speaking before you begin your answer. Keep in mind that your interviewer might not hear you the way you hear yourself, so do your best to moderate your tone and volume, especially if you tend to be an enthusiastic and expressive communicator. And of course, remember the oldest rule in the book: Don’t chew gum.
On the nonverbal side of things, sit up straight and maintain your posture throughout the interview. Leaning slightly forward may convey a sense of engagement, but leaning back comes off as informal and lackadaisical. Eye contact is a little different when the two parties are separated by webcams, but typically the interviewer’s eyes will appear close to your webcam; if you’re using an external webcam, remember that’s your focal point. Close all other windows on your computer, and don’t get distracted by the box with your own image.
Be sure to treat phone and video interviews like in-person interviews. Phone and video interviews usually are the barrier of a first impression, so you want to appear as confident and prepared as you normally would. Although you may not be face to face with an interviewer, interviewing in a proper environment and being prepared for internet difficulties demonstrates that you are a dedicated candidate.