How to Prepare for Remote Job Interviews

By December 21, 2020January 30th, 2021Business

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that you need to be prepared to hunt for jobs from the safety of your home and 2021 is looking no different.

This can be hard for many people who are not technically savvy, lacking experience or struggling to start their career after college, to really stand out from the crowd.

If you are in the job market or even have a remote interview coming up soon, then this is the guide for you. Read our tips below to put your best “virtual” foot forward!

Pre-Prepare Your Tech To Avoid Issues

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We rely on technology every day, but it does fail from time to time and sometimes in a spectacular fashion. Imagine doing all the preparation work for an interview only to have your laptop forcibly update for 30 minutes, blue screen, or to realize you accidentally deleted the email with the meeting ID.

Not every technical failure can be avoided, but most of them can be if you prepare ahead of time and have some contingency plans in place.

Follow the below list to give yourself options and breathing room in case you experience technical difficulties before (or during) your interview.

  1. Save the video meeting information in multiple places and write it down on paper, just in case.
  2. Set a calendar event for yourself with all of the meeting information, with notifications by email and through the app.
  3. Double-check the time zones of everyone involved. Twice.
  4. Get a backup computer ready if possible, or prep your phone as needed.
  5. Install all updates ahead of time on all devices you might need, both for operating systems and programs like Zoom.
  6. Charge all of your devices ahead of time.
  7. Invest in a decent pair of earbuds with a microphone, and keep an eye out for noise-canceling ones on sale.

Try To Keep a Clear Internet Connection

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Most people who can work from home have been working from home since the pandemic began, which means that more people are using the internet in residential areas than ever before. That could have a negative impact on your connection in the middle of your remote interview.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • You live in an apartment building in which every unit uses the same handful of internet service providers like you.
  • Your kids attend virtual classes throughout the day, including video lessons.
  • Your roommates are also working from home and are also connected to the wi-fi on multiple devices.

That’s a lot of people using up bandwidth in one place.

Instead of staying nervous and hoping for the best, take the initiative to keep your connection as clear as possible. Turn off your other internet-connected devices right before your remote interview, and ask your roommates, partner, and/or kids not to use the internet for the block of time that you need.

You wouldn’t want the interview to be cut short due to other people streaming Netflix at the same time. If you’re struggling with a weak signal then follow the following steps to improve your Wi-Fi connection:

  1. See if there’s a better location in your home where your device can receive the Wi-Fi signal.
  2. Move your router at least 4 feet above ground level, but not to the top floor, if possible.
  3. Find a more central place to put the router (closer to your interview space).

Clean Up The Space Behind You

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Professionalism hasn’t flown out the window just because most of us are working from home. You’ll need a dedicated, quiet space for the duration of your remote interview. Don’t rely on custom backgrounds to cover up a messy home office!

Start by cleaning your desk area, then clean up everything beside and behind your desk area. If your partner’s desk area is behind yours, then ask them to clean it up ahead of time for this particular occasion. If they don’t, then you might need to tidy it up yourself without moving too much around.

Now, make sure that nobody enters your space during your interview. That means:

  • No roommates popping their heads in to borrow your car.
  • No children asking for a snack.
  • No pets barking at your window.

This applies to noise as well. Ask everyone in your home not to make excessive noise for the 30-60 minutes of your remote interview. Set up young kids with a movie playing at a reasonable volume, and ask teenagers to chat with friends or play video games quietly in their room (you won’t find much resistance).

Keeping a clean and clear environment will let you focus on the actual interview instead of letting distractions claim your attention at the worst possible moment.

Follow Traditional Interview Protocols

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Putting yourself in a good state of mind is the best thing you can do right before going into an interview, whether it’s in person or over a video chat. Follow this basic checklist to prepare yourself mentally ahead of time.

  • Print out a copy of your resume to bring up points.
  • Dress up in business casual wear (at least waist up)!
  • Warm-up your vocal cords to sound more confident.
  • Do some controlled, deep breathing exercises to calm the nerves.
  • Log in a few minutes early to show good time-keeping skills.

This stuff is important because the interview is more about you than your resume. Your mannerisms, your attitude, and your ability to speak are on display during a video interview, even if no one can tell if you’re actually wearing pants or not!

Practice Presenting On Video

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Now for the actual video interview tips. The goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel, but to normalize the remote setup as much as possible and to maximize your presence.

First, eliminate other distractions on your computer to stay focused on your interview:

  • Turn off all other programs.
  • Maximize the video chat window to take up your whole screen.
  • Put your phone away, on silent, face-down.

With that in hand, follow these best practices when on a video interview.

  1. Mute yourself whenever you’re not speaking. Who knows if you’ll sneeze, or if someone will barge into your space during the interview. Even if it’s an emergency, it comes across as more professional if the interviewer isn’t interrupted.
  2. Position yourself at a moderate distance from the camera. You don’t want to be too far away or too close, it needs to emulate an in-person conversation, after all.
  3. Begin and end the interview with a casual thank-you for the invitation to interview. Be polite and upbeat, and do it confidently. Maintaining an air of self-respect is key for any kind of interview.
  4. Project your voice.  Making your voice carry is important for remote interviews. You don’t know how well the sound is coming through the interviewer’s computer or headphones, so it pays to speak clearly.
  5. Keep your shoulders squared to the camera. Body language still counts, even if the interviewer can’t see more than your face and shoulders (and vice versa). The key takeaway here is to look engaged while you answer questions and ask some of your own.
  6. Leave some breathing room before speaking. Quite often there’s a slight delay between what the speaker is saying and what the listener is hearing, throwing off our sense of timing. Instead of accidentally cutting off the interviewer, leave an extra second or two before jumping in with your thoughts. It comes off as more polite.

Follow these steps to prepare, and your next remote interview will go as smoothly as possible, but the rest is up to you. Know your stuff, be ready to talk about your experiences, and you’ll be golden.

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