How to Master Remote Interviews

remote interviewsTen years ago, the idea of a fully remote role would have been unusual, if not unheard of, especially in some industries. But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many of us to work from home in recent years, remote work post-pandemic has become increasingly normal.

The benefits of working from home are clear: better work-life balance, no more lost commuting time, reduced costs, and perhaps even increased productivity without office distractions. But working remotely requires a skill set that is focused on communication, self-management and technical confidence.

Job applicants will want to ensure that their CV accurately reflects these skills, but the interview stage is crucial to successfully be hired for a role. Particularly with remote roles, a video interview is part of the process of understanding whether a candidate has the necessary experience to succeed in the future. So how can job seekers set themselves up for success? We take a look.

Be aware of body language

Saying the right things is understandably important when it comes to interviewing, but body language will also play a part. Even if it’s subconscious, the interviewer may warm to a candidate if their body language is open, calm, and confident. This has always been true at in-person interviews, where eye contact and handshakes are a normal part of the process. But how can candidates replicate this on a screen?

Firstly, candidates should make sure to position their camera at eye level so that they’re able to give the impression of eye contact, and the interviewer is able to clearly see their facial expressions. Having a good posture, keeping a calm but confident tone of voice, and smiling will all help applicants ace virtual interviews according to this guide to job hunting in the age of remote work. Interviewing over an internet connection can make it harder to hear what’s being said, so the interviewee should also ensure they’re speaking slowly enough and speaking up.

If a candidate is worried that they will mumble or get flustered when answering, then they can make sure to consider some responses to generic questions before the call. Practicing answers in front of a mirror might sound excessive, but it can help with correcting any body language issues before the big day. Interviewees can also either choose to hide their self-view on screen if it’s too distracting or keep it open to check on how their body language is coming across to others.

Dress professionally

Dressing professionally, even if the interview is taking place virtually, is key for any hopeful remote employee. If in doubt, it’s always best to be a bit overdressed than underdressed – first impressions count. Whilst it can be tempting to go smart on the top half and casual when it comes to trousers, dressing for the role can help encourage confidence and self-belief. Plus, on the off chance that a candidate needs to stand up on the call (unexpected fire alarms do happen), the professional impression will last.

Test the technology

Technology is vital for success in any remote role, and as such it’s important that it works correctly at the interview stage to give a good impression. Interviewees should make sure that their camera, microphone, and internet connection are working properly ahead of time, and know how to use the meeting platform that the interviewer has proposed. Having a small test meeting with a friend can be a good way to ensure that everything is as it should be, checking that the picture is clear and the lighting is good.

Applicants should also make sure that they know how to handle things if they don’t quite go to plan. Remaining calm and professional is important no matter what happens, and it can help to have a backup such as dialing into the meeting from a phone instead of a laptop. If possible, it may also be worth learning how to set up a phone hotspot in case of a patchy internet connection.

Use prompts

The joy of a remote interview is the ability to use sticky note prompts, short summaries, or even have your resume to hand. As long as candidates are not looking away from the screen for long periods of time, using cues can be a great way to give clear answers, and cover all the necessary points. Some interviewees also like to use these notecards to prepare their answers before the interview and then memorize key details, similar to revision flashcards.

It’s important to ensure that answers remain natural – note cards can help with key points to remember, but should not be read aloud word for word.

Keep things quiet

Finally, it’s good practice to ensure that any housemates or family members are informed of interviews well ahead of time, to ensure they will be quiet wherever possible. Whilst noise-canceling headphones will handle background sounds with ease, they won’t block out any loud sounds like doors shutting or the vacuum cleaner. Keeping disruption to a minimum is both professional and less distracting for the person interviewing.

Interviewees should also mute any phone or computer notifications to avoid them getting distracted – it’s easier to lose focus when you’re not in the room with the interviewer. However, this is highly noticeable on a screen. This is not good news when it comes to interviewing success – research has shown that 80% of unsuccessful candidates seemed distracted in their video interviews.

The best chance of success

In the modern world of work, candidates are more likely than ever to find a remote role. However, just because we’re working from home more, it doesn’t mean that first impressions at an interview should also be casual. By following these tips, job seekers can help give themselves the best chance of success.

By: Kathleen White, who works as an independent business analyst for several small businesses. She completed her degree in Business and Management. She enjoys writing in her spare time to share what she has learned, in hopes of benefiting other businesses.

(The opinions and views of guest contributions are not necessarily those of

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