Tips For a Successful Remote Interview
By now, pretty much everyone who has interviewed for a new job in the last few years has likely participated in a remote interview. They have been around for quite some time, but have obviously increased in popularity due to the Covid pandemic. Interviewing over Zoom, Teams, Google Meets, or other platforms has really become the norm, at least in the early stages of the interview process. And let’s be honest, it is super convenient! You can talk with a company from the comfort of your own home, without having to sit in traffic and waste time commuting to an office and back. And maybe several times.
As a recruiter, I have been using these platforms for years. And for many of the same reasons companies do it this way now. It is convenient, and still gives me the opportunity to see how a person presents themselves and to gauge their non-verbal communication as they talk. I can tell so much from that when I interview a person, sometimes more than from what they say.
But for some reason, some people still seem to think that because they are not in the same room as me that I can’t see and hear everything that is happening in their space. So, let’s clear some things up. I CAN hear your dog barking in the background, your child screaming or knocking on the door, the vacuum, and even the toilet flushing. Some of this can’t be avoided, but come on folks. A little preparation goes a long way! And I CAN see the super closeup version of your face when you are too close to the camera, the extremely bright light behind you, and your un-made bed as your background. And if you are dressed super casual thinking it is just a home interview so it’s ok, it’s not. Treat a remote interview just like it is an in-person one. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when interviewing remotely;
Dress for success. It is true that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Regardless of where you are sitting. Even if the job you are applying for is all remote and you will never be in the same building with anyone. Dressing well for an interview shows respect and shows that you are prepared, and care about making that positive impression.
Be aware of what your setting looks like on camera. It is really simple, but so many people don’t take the time to do it. Before you go live, turn on your camera and look at yourself for a few minutes. Is your shirt pressed and straight? Tie? Is your face super shiny? What can be seen in the background? Is it neat and clean? How is the lighting? You don’t want too much back lighting as it takes away from the clarity of your face. And most importantly, make sure you are a proper distance from the camera! I want to get to know you during our talk, but I really don’t want to look up your nose the whole time!
Test fake backgrounds before you use them. Most video conferencing platforms include some faux backgrounds to make it look like you are in a more professional space than you may be. These are totally acceptable to use, but make sure they are working properly before you use them on the call. I can’t tell you how many times a candidate has been in the middle of a really engaging story, and all I can focus on is how their arm keeps disappearing mid-sentence. Sometimes they just don’t work all that well, so better to skip them if they don’t.
Be aware of non-verbal communication. As I mentioned above, I am watching a candidate’s non-verbal cues the entire time I am interviewing. And yes, even over video, I can see you the whole time! Good posture is critical. Sit up straight for gosh sake. Few things show disinterest in a conversation more than a person who is slouching while talking. Smile! It is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to connect with someone. Use hand gestures when you talk. Being animated with hand gestures shows your passion for what you are saying. Don’t overdo it by flailing your hands all over the place, but you get the point. And then there is the most important non-verbal of all…..
MAKE EYE CONTACT! Yes, even over Zoom, you must make eye contact with the interviewer! OK, it’s not quite the same as when you are in the same room, but by simply looking into the camera, you can accomplish so much without even saying a word. When you are looking at me while you answer a question, you appear credible and confident in what you are saying. There is nothing worse than someone talking and staring off into space, at the floor or ceiling into la-la land. I literally wonder what the heck they are looking at when people do that. What is so important down there anyway? When your eyes are wandering, it makes the interviewer question your confidence and wonder if you are being truthful with your answer. Look at the camera!
Be Prepared! And finally, prepare for a video interview just the same as you would an in-person one. Research the company, the department you are interviewing for, and the interviewer. I love when a candidate asks me a question about my LinkedIn profile or makes a reference to the company’s quarterly profit numbers. It shows me that you did your homework and came in prepared. And have 3-5 questions prepared for the end of the interview. Most interviewers will wrap up the meeting by asking what questions you have for them. Just as an FYI, I totally know when you have some prepared and when you are making them up on the fly. Be prepared!
Hopefully these few tips will help you to improve your remote interviews and to get further in the process and eventually land the job. Have questions about any of this? Feel free to contact me directly or set up a session for us to chat. I am happy to help!
Ron Milman is the Principal of Milman Search Group, a leading National Recruiting/Staffing/Coaching agency efficiently filling positions for companies across a wide variety of industries and specialties, and coaching career seekers. Check them out at www.milmansearch.com or contact Ron directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.