Did you ever think your future could be decided by a barking dog? Or a loved one popping in to ask what’s for dinner? Or an unfamiliar web conferencing program? These or any one of an infinite number of things can derail a remote job interview — if you do not properly prepare.
As part of building our entirely remote team at Aha! I have interviewed hundreds of people over video. And I can always tell who has done it before — or at least who has conscientiously prepared to do their best.
I was reminded of this recently when I hopped on a video conference for a meeting. The audio was cutting in and out, and all I could see was a shaky close-up of someone’s chin. It seemed like I had caught this person at an inopportune moment.
Only this was not an accidental video call from a friend. This was a job candidate who had chosen to join the web conference using a cell phone, tucked away in a cramped corner of their current employer’s office. What?
You would not show up to an office interview unprepared, would you? So why should a video interview be any different?
As more and more companies embrace remote work, candidates are getting savvier about video interview skills. But even if you use video calls with friends and family, it can feel somewhat awkward to meet your prospective employer for the first time in an entirely virtual setting.
Here is what I suggest you do when preparing for a remote job interview:
Troubleshoot technology issues
Being unfamiliar with your computer’s camera or the video conference software can lead to wasted time. Your best bet is to do a dry run — most of these meeting tools will let you sign up for a free trial. Explore the software and practice with a friend so you can navigate the menus, set up your camera and microphone, and even share your screen. (Also, do not join more than a minute or so early in case people are actively using it for another meeting — awkward!)
Be aware of your environment
The rules of appearance have not changed. You still want to convey respect by dressing professionally, just as you would for an in-person interview. Choose a good setting for your background as well. A neutral indoor room with good lighting is ideal — not your bedroom. Then preview it all using your computer camera. Is there anything distracting in the background? Take advantage of being able to see what your interviewer will see.
A ringing cell phone can be just as annoying during an interview as it is in a movie theater, so set it to silent before you start. Dogs and children are much harder to silence than phones. So try to arrange for noisy loved ones to be elsewhere during your interview. And make sure roommates and family members know you will be on video so they do not walk behind you. It is also a good idea to shut windows to avoid loud sounds in the background.
Give yourself extra time
Just like an in-office interview, the conversation may go beyond the scheduled time. If an interviewer is asking you to stay longer, in all likelihood it is because they want to learn more about you. Think of it as bonus time to show how you are the right person for the job. Plus, if you have cleared your calendar afterward, you will not find your stress levels rise as you watch the clock.
You want to make a good impression. And for a remote job, this means showing that you can handle yourself well on camera.
In fact, the interview is great practice for working remotely. So take it seriously and use it as an opportunity to show your professionalism. See how it feels and then imagine how you would experience interacting with colleagues this way every day.
And please. Do not use your cell phone to join the web conference.
How do you prepare for a video interview?