At the onset of COVID-19, many companies shifted to remote work immediately. Today, working from home is the new normal, which puts job seekers in a unique position. A remote interview process is brand new to most candidates and requires a little more preparation.
Don’t panic, though, the fundamentals of interviewing still hold true. Use this article to familiarize yourself with the process so you’re well-prepared for and confident heading into the conversation.
How to Prepare for Video Interviews
Remember, whether you have experience with video interviews or not, the process should follow the same steps as the conversations you’re used to having with recruiters and hiring managers. Still, any new situation can be unsettling, so preparing will calm your nerves and help you nail the interview. Use the following tips to get ready for an upcoming video interview.
1. Ask for information about the process
You’ll feel more prepared for each interview if you know what lies ahead. Ask the recruiter or hiring manager for insight as to how they’ve adapted their hiring process for the remote world. Most likely, they’ll go out of their way to give you this information up front. However, if they don't, it’s well within your right to ask for the details.
The recruiter will appreciate your willingness to prepare and be informed. In uncertain times with less face-to-face interaction, over-communication is the name of the game. However, be mindful to not get too far ahead of the process. If you are only at the stage of a phone screen, don’t ask about when they plan to extend an offer just yet.
2. Test the conferencing software
Get comfortable with the software you’ll be using during the interview. Understanding how to access the different features of the platform and troubleshoot common issues will help you feel confident going into the interview. Additionally, test out your internet connection and make sure your audio and video are working properly. Have a failsafe prepared in case technical difficulties happen. It can be as simple as giving the interviewer an alternative number to call you at — just make sure you’re reachable.
3. Set up your space
A conducive interview environment is as important as a strong internet connection. A poorly lit or noisy background will be distracting to both you and your interviewer. Designate a quiet, comfortable space to conduct your interview. Video interviews typically replace in-person conversations, so make the interview feel as normal as possible by having a clean, comfortable table and chair to use.
If distractions pop up — whether that be family, roommates, pets or noise from outside — just apologize to the interviewer and move on. They understand that not everyone has an ideal work-from-home setup and will be accommodating of interruptions.
4. Show up early
Get situated well before the interview is scheduled. Log on 10 minutes before the scheduled time to make sure you’re comfortable and your technology is working properly. Just as you’d want to be on time when meeting the interviewer at their office, you must be punctual to your video interview in order to make a good first impression. Despite the informality of a virtual interview, being professional is still essential.
5. Dress the part
Even if you’re not meeting in the office, dress professionally. Showing up to the conversation in sweats and a t-shirt will signal to the interviewer that the conversation isn’t important to you. Check out the company’s social media, careers page and other online profiles to get a sense of its culture and office dress code. If a shirt and tie are most appropriate, wear it; you can always change after the interview. Of course, your attire is usually only visible from the waist up, so a blouse, collared shirt or nice sweater is perfectly acceptable.
6. Be mindful of your body language
Treat a video interview like you would an in-person one. Just because there’s a screen between you and the interviewer does not mean that common courtesies are off the table. A whopping 55 percent of communication is nonverbal, and another 38 percent is conveyed through tone of voice; your words only amount to seven percent.
In short, the way you present yourself is extremely important, even in a video interview. Make eye contact, sit up straight and nod to show you’re following along with what the other person is saying. Don’t forget to smile!
7. Avoid using notes
Repeatedly looking down to check your notes breaks eye contact and not only seems inconsiderate but also rehearsed. A video interview gives you the chance to show a prospective employer your personality and the way you think. Preparing is important, but at a certain point, you have to relax and just be yourself.
8. Ask questions, and have a few ready
As part of your interview-readiness plan, you should research the potential employer, the company culture and the role. Come prepared with questions — it will show that you cared enough to do the legwork and that you’re invested in learning more about the opportunity. You should be actively listening during the entire conversation and ask follow-up questions as you have them. This will show that you’re paying attention and give the interviewer insight into your thought process.
9. Turn off your phone
Give the interviewer the courtesy of your undivided attention. Silence your phone, mute your email notifications and close out your other browser tabs. Your device’s built-in speakers can pick up and magnify notification noises, which makes for a very unpleasant interruption. On top of that, it’s rude and disrespectful of your interviewer’s time. Turning off other devices will help you stay focused during the interview and be an active participant in the conversation.
10. Don’t forget your own evaluation
An interview is the opportunity to evaluate a potential employer as much as it is a chance for a hiring manager to assess candidates. If you were to receive the offer and accept the role, you must be truly interested in the job and want to work for the company. Take note of how the interviewer presents themselves and what they have to say about the organization as a whole.
All in all, the most important thing about preparing for a video interview is adjusting to the new arrangement. Set up your space so you’re comfortable and confident heading into the conversation. Remember to be prepared and be yourself. This is your opportunity to show a recruiter your stuff and get a sense of what working for the company is like.