With the rise of work from home jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic comes the increase in video interviews, as well.
Compared to regular, face-to-face, in real life job interviews, remote interviews don’t feel so daunting to most people.
However, just because you’re not in the same room as the company’s hiring manager doesn’t mean you can let your guard down!
In this guide, we’ll go through the best tips for remote interviews to keep in mind, both before and during your meeting. From Skype to Zoom, and from technical tips to advice on body language, this guide has it all.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Here are the best video interview tips for remote jobs to remember:
1. Find the Perfect Place
This is a no-brainer, but it’s still one of the most important video interview tips to mention. Since you choose your own interview location, you’ll have to pick a perfect spot.
First, find a place you can have all to yourself. At home, perhaps it’s your bedroom with the door shut. If at a college dorm shared with a roommate, ask them in advance if you could have the room to yourself for 30 minutes or so; usually, they’ll be happy to make themselves scarce for your remote job interview.
Next, make sure the lighting is just right. Ideally, you want warm lighting, as it’s more friendly to your appearance than harsh cold light. Make sure it’s sufficiently bright so they can easily make you out. Avoid having any shadows, especially over your face.
Finally, remove yourself from any distractions. Block out all noise, both from outside and inside. Lock your pets and other family members out of your chosen room for the duration of the virtual interview.
2. Do a Technical Check a Day or Two Before
A day or two prior to your remote interview, do a technical check to make sure all is in working order. Test your speakers, mic, audio, the program (e.g., Zoom, Hangouts, Skype), and the internet connection. While you might be able to get by with checking these things the day of (or not testing them out at all, a day or two in advance gives you time to head to Best Buy or Amazon to order a new mic or webcam, if needed.
To do the most accurate check to make sure everything is working properly, ask a friend to accept a video call from you and give you feedback. However, make sure you are using the video messaging software you will use on the upcoming interview, as one program may play nicely with your internet camera, for example, while another may not recognize it.
3. Optimize Your Internet & Computer Performance
You’ve checked that your hardware is up to par, but your computer needs to run like a dream, as well. One of the most important tips for online interviews is to optimize your computer’s performance.
First, close all browser tabs other than ones you need for the interview. If you have any running programs that aren’t crucial to your computer’s operation, shut those down. Remember, there might be unnecessary software running in the background, so locate these and close them, as well.
For the internet, try plugging in with an ethernet cable rather than using wi-fi, if possible. If you must use wi-fi, be close enough to your wireless router, and ask other people using it to disconnect to give you max bandwidth. Also, tell people to avoid using the microwave! Microwaves (and some other household appliances and devices) tend to operate on the same frequency as your wi-fi router.
4. Wear Pants!
Not having to dress up may be one of the most prized perks of having a work-from-home (WFH) job. However, you still need to dress appropriately for your remote interview!
And, dressing for a remote interview doesn’t just mean from the waist up. One of the best online interview tips to remember is to wear pants anyway, even if they won’t ever see below the belt. You could have an emergency situation or have forgotten important notes in the other room, and then getting up to handle it gets embarrassing, to say the least!
5. Draw the Shades
If you’re about to join a video interview and you notice that it’s partly cloudy outside, draw the shades closed. While the natural light may be pleasant, the in-and-out of the sun behind clouds could wreak havoc on your video. Many modern internet cameras and the software behind them have auto-adjusting brightness. If the sun keeps hiding behind clouds and reappearing, your interviewer’s screen will appear as if you’re holding the meeting from a disco party, which isn’t what you want! 😉
6. Don’t Use a Phone or Tablet
While your cell phone or tablet may sport a better camera on it than your computer, avoid using these for interviews. A vertical screen still appears less professional to some HR managers, and holding it for the duration of the remote job interview will certainly get tiring. Also, it’ll be hard to see anything the interviewer might want to show you without peering closely at the screen, and, on their side, this just looks terrible.
If you must use a mobile device, however, try to prop it up securely so it doesn’t shake or tip over when you press any buttons. Close all background apps to give it the best performance, and test first whether your wi-fi speed is faster than your mobile data package.
7. Consider Your Background
Before you log in to your virtual interview, make sure your background is neat and pleasing to the eye. If there’s a mess behind you, it’s not only distracting—it also sends them a message that you have poor organization skills at best, or, worse still, that you don’t really care about getting the job.
If you have a shelf of books, you can sit in front of that as long as it’s tidy. Same with a wall with photos or painting. However, just remember that they may take the time during your interview to zoom in and check out what exactly you’re reading or posting on your walls. When in doubt, go for a neutral, plain-wall background.
8. Beware of Time Zone Differences
Remote interviews tend to mean remote jobs, and those remote jobs might be in a time zone different than your own. Keep that in mind, as you definitely don’t want to show up an hour early—or worse yet, an hour late!
Most modern calendar systems, such as Google Calendar, take time zones into consideration. However, if you just have an email exchange with the interviewer, be sure to confirm with them the exact time and time zone of your meeting.
9. Look at Your Camera, Not Your Screen
It’s only natural to look the person in their eyes as you speak. However, on video interviews, looking at their eyes will appear to them as if you’re looking away. If you’re using a laptop, you should be okay, but if you’re on a desktop situation with a separate camera, place the camera as close to where the person’s face will appear as possible. And, if you can, just look into the camera when answering their interview questions; it’ll look as if you’re looking them in the eye.
Related Read: How to Stay Connected Socially When Working From Home
10. Place Notes Nearby
But don’t rely on them!
Simply having notes nearby could boost your confidence overall, even if you never need to look at them. And, if they ask you a question about a particular past accomplishment, perhaps you’ll have the STAR method already lined up, for example.
Also, you can use your notes to, well, take notes! When it’s your turn to ask questions, or if the hiring manager is simply giving a brief history of the company, jot these points down. Not only are they important to know if you get hired (or for making the final decision), but it also shows attention and interest. However, let them know you’ll be taking notes, because video interviewers can’t see what you’re doing. You don’t want them thinking you’re ignoring them and playing Animal Crossing instead!
11. Silence Your Notifications
Though one of the most obvious remote interview tips, this one bears repeating. Make sure your mobile phone is silenced, of course, as you don’t want it to buzz or beep or ring while you’re in the middle of answering an important situational interview question.
However, don’t just think of your phone. Make sure you silence computer notifications, especially if you’re using speakers rather than headphones. Also, if you have any other devices in your room, and in your overall living space, put them on silent for the duration of your virtual interview.
12. Remember Body Language
We already touched on maintaining proper eye contact, but many job candidates forget that other body language gets noticed on remote interviews, as well.
Sit up straight in your seat with good posture without looking too rigid or stiff, and nod your head as you listen to show them you’re paying attention. Use hand gestures and arm gestures to emphasize certain points, but don’t overdo it. Try not to fidget or play with items on your desk, as it just looks as if you can’t wait for the interview to be over. Finally, smile as much as you can without looking crazy!
Related Read: How to Avoid Cabin Fever While Working From Home
13. Keep It Plugged In
If you’re using a laptop for your video employment interview, keep it plugged in. Live, two-way video streaming, aka your remote interview, is power hungry, so this will ensure it doesn’t start to die halfway through. Also, keeping it plugged in means you know where your charger is to begin with; there’s nothing quite as annoying to an interviewer as a candidate who needs to pause to go look for their laptop charger! One other perk of having your device plugged in is that many computers run at full performance, rather than a reduced performance when on battery mode; this could mean a better internet and video connection for your call.
14. Join the Interview Early
Showing up to interviews early is one of the top interview tips to remember, and this is just as true for virtual video interview meetings. Log in to your meeting 5–10 minutes ahead of schedule and just wait patiently. If and when the interviewer also signs on early, you’ll look eager and well-prepared for already being available.
15. Prepare for a Standard Job Interview
Just because you’re having an online interview doesn’t mean you can slack off. If anything, you need to be extra ready and careful to project yourself in the best possible manner. Practice the same interview questions, bring similar items to your interview, come up with questions to ask the interviewer, and just prepare for the interview as you would if you had met face-to-face in real life.
Well, that’s all our remote interview tips for video meetings at the moment, but we’ll continue updating this post with more advice! Got any questions, feedback, or other tips for remote job interviews we should add to our guide? Let us know in the comments below, and thank you for reading!