How to Ace Your Remote Job Interview
18 min read
Technology has changed how we do things. There is an app for almost everything – from shopping, entertainment, and even job searching. The power of technology and the internet made doing things a whole lot easier.
The pandemic has urged companies to rely on internet connections in order to survive. Governments all over the world imposed limiting the number of employees in the workplace to ensure social distancing. Companies are required to make necessary adjustments in order to adapt to the ‘new normal’. Even the HR Department has to think of creative ways in order to continue its normal functions. One of which is job interviews, which are now mostly done through video calling or video conferencing. It may sound weird for some, but it is totally possible.
Remote job interviews are a great advantage to the applicant as they are in their own home, comfortably seated while being interviewed. Comparing it to a face-to-face job interview, they have the choice to make themselves feel better in the easiest way possible (but not too comfortable). Let’s see the tips below to see how you can ace your remote job interview.
In this article we will cover:
Testing the Technology
The most essential item in your remote job interview is the device you will be using. Therefore, it is important to check them before the interview will happen. It is recommended to test it a day before so have enough time to find an alternative in case you will encounter any issue.
There is nothing wrong with using your mobile phone for the remote job interview, however, it is recommended to use your laptop. Most likely, the interviewer is also using a desktop or laptop computer, and a smartphone’s video size format will not match their screen size. You may appear on their screen to be too centered or too wide.
Test your camera. Check the settings to configure the best resolution for your screen in the environment that you will choose for the interview. Most laptops today have cameras that have the technology to automatically adjust the lighting for you. If you have an older version, find a well-ventilated area on your house or use a ring light if you have one. Do you know you can also use your smart TV to improve lighting conditions? There are a lot of YouTube videos offering a white screen to works as a source of light. Choose the ad-free video to avoid distraction in the middle of the interview.
Do a mic test. It is recommended to use a headset (even those that are bundled with your smartphone) so the interviewer can hear you better, than just using the device’s microphone. Some earphones have the ability to lessen background noise, which will be helpful if you are living in a busy household. Using a headset will also help you hear the interviewer more clearly.
Ensuring the connectivity. If you are using a laptop, you are probably connected to the internet via Wi-Fi which is also being used by other people living with you. Ask them to stop using the internet during your interview because high bandwidth activities such as streaming and downloading can slow down your connection. It may cause the interviewer not to hear you properly, or the other way around. If you want to be sure of having the best internet connection while on the interview, connect directly to the modem or router.
Check the platform. Usually, interviewers will share the information on the platform to be used for the interview. Create an account a day before the interview if you don’t have one, so you can explore the best options and settings to be used with your environment. This will give you enough time to find an alternative device if it is not compatible with yours. Try calling someone using the chosen platform to see if it is working well with the device and connectivity. If worst comes to worst, you can inform the interviewer about the platform compatibility and suggest other platforms that you are sure that is working.
Technology to check before your remote job interview:
- Check your laptop
- Check your camera
- Check your microphone
- Check your headphones or speakers
- Check your connection
- Check the platform
Choosing the Appropriate Background
A background view is an important factor in any remote job interview. It can make the interviewer distracted or focus more of his/her attention on you. Some may not realize how important backgrounds are on any online interview or on any video conferencing.
Though a lot of video conferencing software and apps offer a virtual background effect, yet it is still preferable to use natural backgrounds. Sometimes, the effect you have chosen may distract the interviewer, especially for using the animated ones. Though there is an effect that can blur your background (also known as the bokeh effect), it does not ensure a clear outline of your face or upper body. Small movements while using this background effect might be a little distracting as there is a slight delay to catch up with the movement.
Choose a space that can provide you great ventilation while being comfortable. Avoid having your back on a bright window or a lamp, camera sensors may adjust the lighting automatically where your face can look too dark or too bright. Finding a great spot in the house can lead you to unexpected places, that you may even consider the attic’s neat wall for a background.
Be aware of what is behind you in choosing the perfect space. You might not want to let the interviewer see how messy your house is or turn his/her attention to something that looks disturbing. Prefer to have a background that could be a conversation starter, such as neatly piled books on a bookshelf or even movie posters or paintings. You can engage the interviewer in small talk by doing this.
Background does not always mean about the visuals, it includes the audio as well. Of course, avoid the area where noise can be heard from different sources such as pets that makes loud noises, kids playing, or even cars passing by. In this case, avoid using noise-canceling headphones so you can also be aware of what is happening in the background. You might feel confident that the other person hears you when in fact they are not because of the noise.
The funniest workwear by the employees on remote work is to have a formal look on the top paired with loungewear for the bottom like pajamas and shorts. Some even call it the ‘new’ semi-formal look, where the other half is very casual while keeping the top professional looking.
In a remote job interview, avoid doing this as it can give you the perception to be very relaxed, making you too comfortable. Wear formal pants or a whole dress in your outfit, as it can give you more of the interview feels. Include formal footwear to complete the look. By doing this, you can be assured that you will still look good when the interviewer asks to see you in the whole body.
In choosing a top, choose solid or neutral colors that are not too attention-grabbing. Do not wear bright neon colors as it could be too distracting on the interviewer’s screen. Avoid wearing tops with patterns too, like plaid or checkered. When the connectivity gets bad, the view gets pixelated creating irregular shapes on what you are wearing that may not look good.
In choosing an accessory, you can skip wearing something in your wrist or hands as it will probably be not seen in the interview. Wear minimal jewelry, as having a lot of them on may cause light reflections or make noises on every movement.
The key in choosing what to wear in a remote job interview is to imagine yourself what you’d be wearing to a face-to-face job interview. It will help you decide a lot easier. Remember to wear comfortable clothes as wearing something that will make you feel too hot or too cold may hinder you from focusing on the interview.
Before the Interview
Apart from checking the device, platform, and what to wear, the most important part of any job interview is by providing the right answers to the recruiter. There are a lot of articles online that will help you get the idea of the appropriate answers to the most common interview questions like ‘How do you see yourself x years from now?’ or ‘How do you handle a stressful environment?’. Now that you have the idea of how to answer them, add a personal touch by mentioning an example from your previous work or even life experiences.
Always expect the unexpected, as you could be asked witty questions that serve as a personality assessment without knowing it. One of the trickiest questions that could be asked is ‘If you would be a pet, what kind of pet will you be and why?’. There is no right or wrong answer, but it will let the interviewer know how you see yourself.
Aside from preparing to answer personal questions, expect some inquiries regarding work experience. To help you with self-assessment, list down all of the facts about you and your accomplishments over the years. It will make you realize how proud you should be of yourself, adding some confidence which will show on the day of the interview.
Check all the necessary information that you might need during the interview such as the recruiter’s phone number or any documents forwarded to you as a guide. Having an interviewer’s phone number will help you in reaching them when there is a connection issue and you can’t log in to the same credentials again.
During the Interview
Once you are connected with the log-in credentials given by the interviewer, stay still and wait patiently until the interviewer turns their camera on. Do not make faces if the other person is not showing up – remember that the recruiter may be able to see you and it could make a bad first impression. Wait patiently for them to turn it on or to tell you that they will not be opening their cameras. In case they haven’t mentioned it and you still can’t see the other person, clarify if the interview will be done in its current state. The interview may involve testing you visually, so it is better to confirm.
Demonstrate positive body language and behavior while on the interview. Smile at every chance that you have and look at the camera every time you give an answer, instead of looking on the screen and focusing on the interviewer’s reaction. Pretend like it is a normal job interview and show your natural facial expressions.
Avoid distractions while on the interview. Turn your phone to silent and place them where you can’t see it but still within reach. If you don’t hear the interviewer well, be honest instead of giving an answer based on an assumption of what you’ve heard. Also, remember to give time in between your answers to give the recruiter a chance to ask for clarification or a backup question. You may also read their facial clues to see if the person already stopped or will continue talking.
Talk slowly – yes, you’ve read that right. Internet connection may cause a delay in your voice or sound. It is better to talk slowly that is near to your normal speed, which will make the communication better. This may also help the interviewer if they are facing a delay in the connection.
When asked if you have any questions for them. Take this opportunity to ask interesting questions that you would like to know, like ‘When are the usual working hours for this position?’ or ‘How will be the work set-up in case I am chosen for the position?’. It will make the interviewer feel that you are interested in the position by asking related questions.
Engaging the Interviewer
Memorable job interviews for the recruiters are those that do not feel like they are interrogating job applicants, but those that keep them engaged and interested all throughout the conversation. This will help them know how you would fit in the company, or if you have the initiative to talk to your future colleagues when needed. Interviewers may also use this as an assessment if you are the right applicant to fill the position with the level of communication skills that you have.
It may look hard, but it is relatively easy to engage the interviewer even in small talks. As mentioned, you can choose a background that can be a conversation starter. The interviewer may ask you with ‘What kind of books do you like reading?’ or ‘Who is your favorite author?’ when you choose your collection of books as the background. Out with the usual, questions to build rapport like ‘What’s the weather today in your area?’ feels overused.
Some interviewers may not turn on their camera for the purpose of recording and reviewing it later. Don’t be distracted by the black screen in front of you, imagine that the other person is hiding in the dark and you have to keep still. Besides, they may even turn on their camera at the most unexpected timings, so better be prepared and expect the unexpected.
Use the power of social media to get more information about the interview and the interviewer. Check the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn to see his or her background, where your similarities can be a great conversation starter. Some job search websites also give a detailed explanation of the work you are applying for, where you can clarify with the recruiter if it will be the same case with their company.
Want to know what is the easiest way to make the interviewer engaged? The answer is to avoid looking bored. This will make the other person feel that you are ready to answer any question that he or she will give to you. It can also express your enthusiasm for the position you are applying for.
After the Interview
A lot of recruiters say that they would love to hear from the applicant even after the interview. It is usually considered as an expression of interest to the job position that the applicant is applying for. Send a follow up email thanking them for their time, and ask if there are other concerns that was not covered in the interview.
You may include in your email if they have any feedback about how the interview went. This will help you know how you can improve future remote job interviews.
These tips will help you get that dream job, even if the interview is done remotely. Check the devices and the platform you will use before the job interview, as it acts as the bridge to communicate well during this time of social distancing. Remember to stay true to yourself with every answer, and see how your ingenuity will rise above other interviewees. Ace it like it is a face-face job interview, and you will hear a callback from the recruiter saying that ‘You’re hired‘!