Whether we return to in-person job interviews is still in question, and for convenience and health purposes, they may not come back at all. This means that if you’re lucky enough to land an interview, it will likely take place online and you will need to prepare accordingly.
Without question, you’ll still need to engage in all the advance prep work of envisioning questions and formulating (and practicing!) your answers. But you’ll also have the added element of planning for and presenting your best professional self via an online format.
13 Tips to Ace Your Job Interview Remotely
Below are the best ways for nailing a job interview remotely.
Table of Contents
Tips for the Zoom Room
You will be asked to interview on a video conferencing platform. The way you handle yourself in the online interview will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.
Make sure you’re up to speed with your handling of the platform before the day of your interview. Think through any glitches that could get in the way of a stellar interview and have a backup plan, such as having a headset handy in case you have microphone issues. And don’t mute your audio so that the interviewer has to ask you to unmute it first. Then, set the stage to nail your job interview remotely.
1. Clear Your Clutter
The setting that appears behind you while you’re onscreen should give your interviewer a sense of your home-office setting.
For example, consider replacing the poster of a rock concert on the wall behind your desk with a scenic photograph. Think like a set designer in staging your background—and this doesn’t mean a faux background enabled by the video conferencing platform. Make it authentic while ensuring your workspace looks neat and uncluttered.
2. Fix Your Lighting
Have you ever been to a video conference where the sun-filled window behind a participant cast them in silhouette? Don’t make the same mistake. Experiment with natural light coming from in front of you, but make sure you’re not washed out.
If you fear a cloudy day, invest in a circle light or small spotlight. The lights need to be positioned behind your computer. You’ll also want to experiment with your computer’s filtering system to correct redness and other issues.
3. Don’t Leave Out the Dress Rehearsal
A practice run will help ensure you’ve honed both the technology and your online presence. Give your friend or family member a few practice questions to ask you and answer them like it’s the actual showtime.
Dress in your interview outfit. Ask your friend to honestly scrutinize your lighting, sound, staging, appearance, and energy level so that you can make adjustments before game day. Check that you appear animated in both your voice and body language.
Tips for Projecting Your Professionalism
Even though you’re interviewing from the comfort of your home where you’ve become accustomed to wearing comfy clothing day in and day out, dress up. Even if the company culture has a more relaxed dress code, your remote interview is no time to take a nonchalant attitude toward your clothing choices.
4. Dress the Part
To nail your remote job interview, align your appearance with the professional stature you plan to attain. Not only will the appropriate choice of dress help you look the part of a professional, but it will also help you feel more professional.
Because your head and torso will be framed somewhat tightly onscreen, stay away from busy (distracting) patterns. Stick with solid colors. If you know your confidence color (the one that elicits flattering remarks from your friends), wear it!
But also, be aware that you’ll want to choose a color that contrasts with your hair to provide definition. Keep in mind that a white shirt could blandly blend with a white wall behind you.
5. Minimize Distractions
Make the necessary accommodations so that rowdy children or yapping dogs don’t hijack your chance to nail your job interview. If possible, choose a room where the neighbor’s leaf-blowing machine or the fire truck’s siren won’t drown out your inciteful response to the interviewer’s key question.
Most importantly, turn off all notifications! Put your mobile device on airplane mode. Your interviewer will appreciate having your undivided attention.
Tips for Putting Your Best Face Forward
Even with today’s chronic worker shortage, you should expect the competition to be fierce. It’s important to carry out all the advance prep work needed to converse confidently and field questions with conviction and composure.
The best way to nail the job interview is to show a grasp of the industry and be able to share how you will add value.
6. Study the Company
Chances are, you will be told the name(s) of the person (or people) interviewing you. Search online for any articles, blogs, or YouTube videos they’ve posted. Read everything. You never know which research paper or annual report will reveal information for a thoughtful interview response.
If you know someone who works at the company—or even know someone who knows someone—get in contact and pick their brain for the inside scoop. Know your interviewers’ professional backgrounds, areas of expertise, and current initiatives.
7. Prepare a Few Knock-Out Questions to Ask
Draft a few well-thought-out questions to ask your interviewer. Here’s where you can show that you’ve done your research on the company.
When the interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask a question or two, you can frame them in an insightful observation about the industry or reference a recent success. You can also ask a question that will help you determine if the company would be a good fit, such as, “What type of employees tend to succeed here?”
8. Anticipate the Questions You Will Be Asked
Draft a list of questions you may be asked and prepare your answers to them. Be sure to raise any past successes and the transferable skills you will bring if offered the new position.
Even if you aren’t asked the questions you briefed for, such as “Where do you predict this industry is going in the next three years?”, you can weave your new knowledge into other responses.
9. Practice, Practice, Practice
Rehearse your responses to anticipated questions—both regarding the usual subject matter and possible outliers. Say them out loud in front of a mirror, a family member, or an honest friend. Know your answers well enough that they’ll seem spontaneous without coming across as memorized.
Adopt the maxim, “Practice makes perfect.”
Tips Regarding Things Not to Do
Whether your job interview is remote or in-person, know that it’s both distasteful and poor form to ramble on about yourself or to make any pre-emptive personal demands. You’ll not only fail to nail your job interview, but you may also bar yourself from any future positions.
10. Table Questions About Perks
Don’t ask about salary or personal days until you’re offered the job. The interview is the company’s process to ascertain candidates’ skills and culture fit and not about your particular preferences.
Even if asked about your salary requirements, it’s best to provide a broad range concerning pay and benefits until a firm offer is on the table.
11. Refrain From Bombarding Your Interviewer About Particulars
Don’t ask about where you’ll sit, how much travel is involved, how many days you can work remotely, or how long it usually takes to receive a promotion. If you come off as demanding, whiny, or entitled, you’ll be skipped over for the job.
Even if you nail the job interview and receive an offer, expect to learn a great deal more as you go. You will need to earn any special privileges after proving yourself.
Tips for Following Up
Most interviewees follow up, but few do it in a gracious way this is truly memorable. Following up is not just a matter of saying “Thank you.” It’s that, but so much more.
12. Thank Everyone Who Gave You Their Time
Not only is it proper etiquette to send an email or a handwritten thank-you letter after your meeting, but it gives you one more chance to sell yourself to your interviewer. Whether it’s an old-fashioned posted letter or a personal email, be sure to send it off within 24 hours of your interview.
Besides thanking your interviewers for their time and their interest in you, make a comment or add another thought to a topic discussed during the session. This will remind them who you are and keep the productive conversation you had on top of their minds. Write each interviewer an individual note.
13. Check Back In
If you don’t hear back, follow up again (but not too soon after your interview). The company’s timing may be less brisk than you’d like, but acting too eager can paint you in a negative light.
Still, checking in by email after a week or two to ask if you can provide any further information is a subtle nudge for any news the hiring manager may have to share about the company’s decision-making timeline.
Nailing your remote job interview requires staging your background, projecting professionalism, indicating knowledge of the company, and showing gratitude for your interviewers’ time. With these 13 tips, you have a good chance of perfecting your online interview charisma, rising above the competition, and winning over your prospective employer.
Good luck on your job-hunting quest!
Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com