How to impress in a remote interview
Most companies now rely on remote interviews, if not for the whole process, then at least for the first round of their hiring.
You are expected to be as prepared as you would with a face to face interview – but most fail to do so. It’s too easy to mess up a remote interview. It’s also easy to impress.
From over 30 years of clients’ interview feedback, we’ve compiled 15 golden rules for how to impress in a remote interview. Some of these may seem obvious but even seasoned interviewees can slip up when moving to telephone or online environments:
1. THINK ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
If you were having to do dozens of these calls every week, how would you feel about the candidates who are unprepared or worse, disinterested? How would they score against candidates who had the intelligence (and respect) to prepare well? Make their decision to progress with you easy!
2. DON’T GO IN BLIND
Not researching the company and the role is a sure way to fail. Find out as much as is possible about the business and the interviewer(s). Know your own skills and strengths thoroughly and your development areas! And prepare some questions (see #10).
3. PRESENT YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY
What interviewers see and hear around you will influence their decision.
- A shelf full of kitchen appliances is not the best backdrop. A picture of the Cheesegrater is more appropriate.
- Dress up, not down, even if you’re working from home. Tidy up so they see a professional environment.
- Avoid irritating background noises and interlopers during your interview. Ask other householders to make themselves scarce for an hour.
- Position yourself comfortably at a distance from the screen, like you would face-to-face. Having your whole face filling the screen isn’t flattering and being close to the screen can make it feel more nerve-wracking.
- Don’t chew gum! You wouldn’t do it face to face, so why do it on the phone or video call? Fresh breath is not so important through this medium.
- Have a glass of water handy.
4. PREPARE YOUR TECH
- Have you thought about what bandwidth you need for a video call and who else might be sharing it? If someone is video-gaming in the next room, you could have problems. There is nothing more frustrating for an interviewer who has a structured process than having to repeatedly ask the same question over and over because they could not understand your answer due to poor bandwidth or lost signal.
- What platform will you be using to attend the interview? Make sure you download it in advance and practice how to use it. Microsoft Teams and Zoom are more common than Skype these days.
- Test your audio settings – make sure you can hear and be heard. Connect any external speakers and microphones and make sure they work. A headset will help avoid horrible feedback noise that can be off putting for everyone.
- What is your backup plan if you lose signal? Will you move to phone instead or try to reconnect? Discuss this with your interviewers when you begin.
5. DON’T BE LATE
It seems basic, but surprisingly, more people are late for remote interviews than face to face ones.
6. RESIST THE URGE TO MULTITASK
It might be tempting to cross something off your to-do list while on a phone interview, but recruiters and hiring managers can easily tell if your attention is elsewhere. Thankfully, this is harder to do on a video call, but some still try it!
7. NEVER PUT YOUR INTERVIEWER ON HOLD
Remote interviews don’t take that long, there isn’t anything else so urgent that you need to pause your interview.
8. AVOID LONG-WINDED ANSWERS
The key to success during a remote interview is clear and concise answers. People’s attention spans tend to be shorter. You don’t want your future employer to lose interest in the conversation. Practice answers to questions you know will be asked ahead of time so you’re clear on what you’re going to say. That way, you can prevent rambling before it starts.
9. NEVER TALK OVER THE INTERVIEWER
You might be eager to get your point across or talk about your experience, but interrupting the interviewer is awkward and rude – even more so than in face-to-face interviews.
10. ANSWER THE QUESTION
The number one complaint from interviewers is candidates not answering the question. This is usually because candidates are trying to avoid saying they don’t have the answer or the experience. Be honest. Honesty creates trust and likeability (see our interview tips about likeability).
11. SKIP FILLER WORDS
It’s tough not to say things like “um,” “uh,” and “like” in everyday speech, but these verbal habits become much more pronounced when speaking on the phone and on a video call.
12. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
The point of a phone interview is to know your professional experience and goals. They are trying to qualify you to see if you are the best fit for a role. Learning about your personal life doesn’t help.
13. NEVER SKIP THE Q&A
After wrapping up an interview, it is typical that the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. ALWAYS ask questions! It shows you are interested in the role.
14. WAIT FOR THE MONEY CONVERSATION
If this is the first interview, it’s simply too early in the process for you to be the one who brings up salary expectations.
15. FOLLOW UP
You have the interviewers email address. Thank them for their time and make their job easier, follow up with your feedback and let them know what you think about the opportunity.