Quick Tips for Remote Job Interviews

Quick Tips for Remote Job Interviews

Job hunting in the 21st century is very different than in past years. Gone are the days of printing resumes and pounding the pavement to look for job offers.

The traditional interview is less common, too. More and more, the typical hiring process is moving away from conducting normal interviews and using online interviews to find new employees. The virtual interview can be a challenge for job seekers… but it can also benefit those prepared applicants.

It can be difficult to master video conferencing software, but moreover, it can be challenging to make a real connection with your interviewer. Remote interviewing lacks the non-verbal, interpersonal cues we rely on to make a good impression. It is easy to get thrown off track by technical glitches or distractions in your environment.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’re going to show you how to turn the challenging remote interview scenario into your competitive advantage. By familiarizing yourself with video platforms, staging your environment, using your attire and body language to make a visual impact, and being adequately prepared mentally, you can set yourself apart from candidates who haven’t and land the dream job you want.

Learn the Tech

Many new video chat platforms have entered the market recently, and more will likely spring up. While Skype and FaceTime have been around for a while, newer entries such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and others make learning the applications a moving target.

Before your remote job interview, the hiring manager will likely tell you what video chat platform they use, or the interview appointment you receive from the hiring manager will contain the info. Once you know which video conferencing platform will be used, install it on your home computer right away, then practice with it. Set up test interviews with a family member, or practice with a friend who does remote work. (Remote workers tend to be fluent in video conferencing software setup).

It is critical to ensure you have a strong and stable internet connection. Having your internet signal drop out in the middle of an interview can throw you off your game and derail your effort to make a good impression. If you don’t have a great wifi connection at home, make a backup plan to go somewhere that does. Just ensure it is the right environment.

Pro Tip: Most mobile phones can be tethered to share their internet connection with a computer, and many video conferencing platforms also have mobile apps.

Work the Room

When you are being interviewed online, the interviewers look at more than you. They’re also looking at the space you’re in. Use this to your advantage. Having a clean, well-lit, uncluttered background can help show your interviewer you are the right person for the job.

  • Lighting: Ensure you are well-lit and easily visible. Natural light is the best light source, and dedicated ring lights are a close second. Even home lamps can achieve a good effect. Most importantly, do not be back-lit (having a light source behind you), as it will make it difficult for the interviewer to see your face.
  • Camera Angle: Place your camera at the right level. Having the camera too low will have the hiring manager looking up your nose (less than ideal), and too high will also look bad. If you need to, use books or other supports to prop up your computer at eye level, and be sure to center yourself in the frame.
  • Background: What can your interviewer see in your background? Test this by having a mock interview with a friend or family member. The style you are going for is more ‘home office’ and less ‘home’. Interviewers do not want to see your messy living room, your beer can collection or anything else that might not portray you as a fit for their company culture. Books, nice wall art, and house plants have a positive effect, but when in doubt, a blank wall behind you will cause the least distraction in your interview.
  • Sound: It is critical to ensure your audio setup is sufficient — you need to be able to hear the interviewer, and they need to be able to hear you. Conduct a sound check with a family member in a test interview, and ensure they can hear you clearly, there is no echo or background noise, and that you can hear the interview questions.

Pro Tip: Earbuds with microphones often offer the best sound quality and noise-reduction of background noise.

Dress the Part

How you dress for your video interview is just as important as a traditional, in-person interview or arguably more. Video interviews offer less opportunity to make an impression, so dressing properly offers a visual cue you can use to convey that you are a good fit for the company’s culture.

Dress just as well as you would for an in-person interview… including wearing proper pants. Your sweatpants might not be visible from the camera angle you choose, but if the unexpected forces you to stand up, you want to be prepared.

How dressy you should be will depend on the job you are applying for, and it also depends on the company culture, but a good rule of thumb is to dress one step above what you would wear for the job itself.

Pro Tip: You can learn how to dress for interview success here: How to Nail the Blue Collar Interview

Watch Your Body Language

Like your clothes, your body language in a virtual interview is perhaps even more important than in a regular interview. It is key to making a connection. Pay attention to posture, eye contact, and other non-verbal cues you are sending, and pay close attention to the body language of your interviewer(s).

When in doubt, don’t look at yourself on the screen — look at the camera instead. This is the equivalent of maintaining eye contact. Looking up will make you look uncertain, and looking down could make you seem evasive.

When the interviewer is speaking, nod your head occasionally to signal that you are actively listening to the questions they are asking. Sit up straight in your chair and maintain proper posture. This will make you appear confident and self-assured, and your interviewer will be interested in what you say.

Prepare Your Mind

You’ve mastered the technology, picked the right setting, dressed well, and practiced your non-verbal cues. All that’s left is to be confident in what you say.

Read and re-read the job description and take note of the language used. This will help you to understand what the company is looking for and highlight the aspects of your personality and experience that align with it.

Write down your answers to common interview questions, then role-play the interview process with a family member or friend acting as the interviewer. Don’t read your answers verbatim — this seems stiff and inauthentic. Instead, take your time and use your notes as a memory trigger to answer the question in your natural tone of voice.

Pro Tip: You can find information on common interview questions and how to properly answer them, such as this article: [link to Jombone interview question post]

Gain a Video Interview Advantage

Video interviews are commonplace nowadays, but the confidence to perform in that setting is not. Many people struggle in that situation.

By being familiar with video conferencing software, setting an attractive stage, dressing the part, using effective non-verbal communication, and being mentally prepared, you can set yourself apart from the other job candidates and make the remote interview work for you.