By Kat Castagnoli
If you’re looking for a job right now, then there’s a good chance you’re interviewing remotely. There are some upsides to this – there’s no traffic to endure, you can reference your resume or notes without being obvious and you have the same access to any position no matter where you’re located in the country.
But there are also some serious downsides.
From technical problems and unplanned disruptions to appearing distracted or unprepared, there are many ways a virtual interview can go awry.
Below are a few tips to help you best prepare and turn your next online interview into a solid job offer:
“Of the 72% of job candidates we observed who did not bag offers, the majority (around 80%) appeared to be distracted, failed to engage their recruiter in a meaningful way, or seemed as though they were reading from a script.”
A Clean & Simple Space
You don’t need to rearrange your entire house – just find a spot that’s clean, uncluttered and free of distractions. You can also use a virtual background instead of putting yourself in front of a messy bookshelf or cluttered living room. Keep in mind that contrary to previous research, unconscious biases are less likely to creep into the decision-making process when candidates have a clean backdrop. Studies show that 97 percent of recruiters prefer virtual backgrounds of office settings over beaches, mountains or outer space.
Prepare For the Unexpected
It’s quite common for recruiters to ask candidates for examples of their most impactful work during a job interview. Don’t let this unnerve you or leave you unprepared. Create a Word document or a printout of notes with bullet points that highlight a few projects or accomplishments that you want to share. You can sort your projects under a few headers: accomplishments, research and volunteer work.
The goal is to refer to your notes minimally, so it’s best to keep these to a single page.
Rehearse Your Responses
In a virtual interview, your body language counts for a lot. One study found that 89 percent of successful candidates used wide hand gestures for big and exciting points, while moving their hands closer to their heart when sharing personal reflections. To better connect with your interviewer, be sure to keep an open posture and remember not to cross your arms.
Look into your webcam, not at your reflection, and frame yourself in a way where you are not too far from the camera – no more than two feet. Be sure to make your head and top of your shoulders dominate the screen and most importantly, look directly into the camera whenever you are speaking.
Spark Conversation & Ask Questions
There’s always an opportunity to ask questions about the office and culture in a job interview, but when you’re interviewing remotely, you will probably have a lot more questions than usual. Whatever you’d like to know, be sure to ask. The recruiter will appreciate your curiosity and interest in the company. Good questions to ask include the kind of technology you’ll have access to when working remotely, if you’ll be working in a hybrid team or how success is measured at the company.
Studies have shown that 85 percent of successful candidates who asked these kinds of questions did so to demonstrate their values and priorities, while at the same time, revealing vital bits of information about their personality.
For example, if you asked, “Do you have a flexible work policy?” you could bookend your question with something like, “I’ve been volunteering at a local shelter twice a week, and it would be great to be able to continue doing that.”
Lastly, don’t monopolize the conversation. It should have a natural ebb and flow. Listening carefully and asking insightful questions demonstrates your interest and lets the interviewer know you’ve come prepared and done your homework.
For the time being, remote hiring is here to stay. And while there are many benefits, you need to do your part to ace this relatively new process. While trousers may be optional, being prepared and ready for the unexpected is not.