Nailing a Remote Job Interview
By Elijah Thomas
Remote interviews are increasingly popular and require new skills to be successful.
Four authors at the Harvard Business Review did some serious research, watching and analyzing 513 recordings of interviews.
Best practices for remote interviewing
Practice one: The first practice they suggest is setting up the interview space. Take the time to control what people are going to see. Start by having a clear, uncluttered background. Don’t have a background that the interviewer will be more interested in than you. Even a simple virtual background, preferably of an office setting, is acceptable.
Set up your lighting. Light yourself from the front so that you don’t turn into a silhouette. If you have a desk lamp, use it to spotlight your face. Use a cool, rather than warm light.
Check your internet speed. Ask anyone else using WiFi to log out while you are interviewing. Plug in to a local area network cable if you can or if you don’t trust your WiFi. Lag is a major pet peeve of interviewers. When you test your internet speed, make sure you have a good upload speed.
Practice two: Expect the unexpected. Once you know the platform that the interview will be conducted on, learn as much about it as you can. Download it and practice using it by asking others to do calls with you. Explore the features and know how to troubleshoot problems.
Prepare notes for the interview so you can answer those tough questions, but keep them simple and don’t refer to them too obviously — certainly don’t read from them. Let your notes be reminders of what you’ve already worked through.
Stay calm. If you start to get flustered, ask for a few moments to think about your answer and give yourself a moment to breathe and relax.
Practice three: Rehearse. There are all sorts of tools that can help you evaluate yourself. For example, it’s important to have the right speaking pace — somewhere around 115 words per minute. There are plenty of applications that can help you record yourself speaking, transcribe it and then figure out the word count and pace. You want to project confidence and speaking too fast communicates nervousness instead.
Be aware of your body language. Keep your body open (don’t cross your arms) and use gestures while you speak. Eye contact is important, so look at the webcam and not at yourself. Be within two feet of the camera with your head and the top of your shoulders dominating the screen. The researchers recommend turning off video mirroring so you aren’t tempted to look at yourself.
Practice four: Engage and connect. While it can be difficult remotely, you want to converse naturally and form a connection with the interviewer. Don’t monologue. Ask questions. Talk about common interests. Share your personality.
Things to avoid
The researchers said those who did not get the jobs they were interviewing for overwhelmingly appeared distracted, did not engage their interviewer or seemed to be reading from a script.