A job interview is like an audition for a new play. When you show up for an audition, you may have no idea what the play is about, who is directing it, or in what theater it will be performed. All you know is your talent and skills and your desire to be on stage. During the audition, you and the director get to know each other. The director decides if you are a good fit for the play while you decide if the play is a good fit for you. If you are a dramatic actor and the play calls for singing and dancing, either you or the director may determine that this play is not right for you.
In a job interview, you and the employer are likewise getting to know each other and sizing each other up. You learn details about the company and the open position that were not available in the job posting. The employer learns about aspects of your skills and personality that do not appear on your CV. At the end of the interview, you mutually agree whether to extend and deepen the relationship or terminate it. The job may not be right for you or you may not be right for the job. What you hope for, of course, is a congenial match and a chance to move forward.
Because you are looking for a remote job, chances are you will experience a remote interview. This article outlines the best practices for participating in an online interview. A previous article discusses tips for interviewing for a remote job. Put these two articles together, and you have a complete picture of how to succeed in a remote interview for a remote job.
Best practices for a remote interview
Even if you are not applying for a remote job, a prospective employer’s initial interview is likely to be remote. In many respects, a remote interview is similar to a traditional in-person interview. You introduce yourself, talk about your strengths and accomplishments, learn about the open position, and discuss why you would be a good fit.
A remote interview, however, presents challenges that an in-person interview might not. The telecommunications technology becomes a factor in how well the interview goes. It simply has to work. If you are stuck with a phone interview, you and the employer will miss all the body language, which can be up to 90% of the communication process. If at all possible, opt for a video interview.
If you get a video interview, here are some important points to ensuring a successful experience:
- Prepare your interview space – Ensure the background presents a professional environment for the camera. Remove distractions both for you and for the interviewer. Take down the AC/DC poster behind your head, and don’t let your kitten roam around on the desk.
- Test the technology – Make sure your webcam, microphone, and speakers work well. Also, don’t ignore the lighting. If your face is too dark or too light or is heavily backlit, the interviewer will not receive the best impression of your appearance.
- Consider camera angle – Arrange the camera so your eyes appear in the top third of the screen. This is the rule for any good portrait. Likewise, you don’t want the interviewer looking up your nose or missing your chin.
- Dress all the way – If there is a camera mishap or you have to stand up for any reason, you don’t want to show off your jammie bottoms and fuzzy slippers.
- Turn off notifications on your computer and phone – This is another aspect of removing distractions both for you and the interviewer.
- Have your resume handy – If the interviewer asks you something specific or references a small detail in your resume, you should know exactly what they are talking about.
- Look into the interviewer’s eyes – The trick to appearing as though you are looking directly into the eyes of the person on screen is to look into your camera, not into the person’s face on your screen.
Circling back to the possibility of an initial interview by phone, be aware that a phone interview may even come as a surprise without a pre-set appointment. First and foremost, be courteous. If it is not a good time for you to talk, first express appreciation, then explain that you are occupied and cannot devote the time right now, and ask for the opportunity to call back.
A phone interview offers one advantage over both a video meeting and even an in-person interview—you can have a cheatsheet in front of you and you can take notes during the interview. Even for a phone interview, dress appropriately. How you feel about yourself while you are on the phone can carry across the cell towers to the person you are talking to. You may not have to worry about visual distractions for your interviewer, but be careful of your own distractions, and protect against audio disruptions.
The last piece of advice for any interview situation—go to the bathroom before you start. If your eyes are swimming, you will not be able to focus.
How to stand out after an interview
The previous article on the topic of interviews covered how to stand out in an interview. This article presents ideas for what you should do after an interview to set yourself apart from the other candidates. Whether your interview is online or offline, the following suggestions are tried-and-true tactics for making yourself stand out from the crowd of interviewees:
- Send a thank-you letter or email. This might include a follow-up question you did not think about or have time to ask in the interview. Try to generate a two-way conversation.
- Follow-up phone call. It is appropriate to call the interviewer within a week of the interview to see if the employer has additional questions you could answer. But don’t be annoying.
- Follow up on any commitments you made. If you promised to send a sample from your portfolio or research an answer to a question, do not blow off the opportunity to make another contact.
When you use these strategies, you show an employer your genuine interest in the job and your professional attitude toward your career. Whether you interview in person or remotely, these actions impress employers and give you the edge over the competition.
Dancers in an audition must put their best foot forward to catch the eye of the choreographer. You too must put your best foot forward in your job interview. A well conducted interview is crucial to landing the job. Like an audition, an interview is not a performance. While you can prepare for it, you cannot rehearse it, but you can ensure that the setting works in your favor. When a dancer enters the stage for an audition, the choreographer tells the dancer the steps to dance, and the dancer does the steps. If the choreographer asks for tap dance steps and the dancer has learned tap dancing, the audition goes well. If the dancer happens to have studied ballet instead of tap, the audition probably ends early.
From the day you begin retraining for your new online career, you are preparing for your job interview. If you have conducted a savvy job search, you will land an audition for tap dancing and not ballet. Knowing how to walk on stage, take cues from the choreographer, and respond to the music are all part of a successful audition. In your case, knowing how to present yourself in a video call, control your surroundings, and respond well to questions are all part of a successful interview.
To help you prepare for that critical job interview, RemoteMode’s full-package program includes interview preparation. An experienced and skilled coach assists you in creating an effective interview strategy that gets you off on the right foot. With the benefit of your coach’s real-world experience, you will take the stage with poise and finesse. Learn more about RemoteMode’s full retraining program for an online career by contacting a RemoteMode career counselor for more information about how RemoteMode can prepare you for your next career move.
Take the first step to your new remote career!