With the majority of the IT workforce worldwide working from home for the past two months, we have seen a massive uptick in the use of video conferencing tools like Zoom and Hangouts. Telecommuters are not just using them to conduct virtual meetings and brainstorming sessions, but also for remote hiring. Several employers are still hiring despite the economic slump in order to be better prepared for the future. Companies are ramping up their recruitment efforts so that they can put their best foot forward when they emerge out of the pandemic. In that context, virtual interactions have replaced in-person interviews with the candidates.
As it is, interviewing for a new job can be nerve-wracking. Add to it another challenge – making a lasting impression remotely! As daunting as it may seem, video interviews are not very different from in-person interviews. In some ways, they have their own benefits – you can save time and effort by skipping the commute, and you can even keep a few prep notes handy for tricky questions.
So, for people who are looking to make the move or have an interview lined up, here are some best practices for interviewing remotely and how to make a lasting impression.
Test your equipment
This may seem obvious, but having technical glitches can be embarrassing. Testing your set-up several times beforehand is the first step to ensuring successful interviews. Double-check your device and battery so you don’t have to worry about charging it midway through. Make sure your internet connection is reliable. And don’t forget the audio. You never know how loud a microphone can click when it rubs unnoticing against a shirt. Lack of preparation can cause delays and can add an unprofessional touch to the interview. And, a trial run can go a long way in helping you feel more confident.
Opt for a neutral place
While you are testing your equipment, also test out places you can take the interview from. We understand, not everyone has a home office to work from. But it is important to find a spot that is quiet and well-lit to minimize distractions. Being mindful of little things like sitting against the light or a busy background is also crucial. Remember, your surroundings can give an intimate glimpse of your personal life. So opt for a tidy place with a neutral white wall in the background. Choose the dining table over a bedroom setting. Experiment with the best angle for your webcam. Ideally, you should place it at your eye-level or higher. Stack up some books to prop your laptop higher, if needed. This trick will help maintain an eye-contact during virtual conversations.
Be well prepared
Needless to say, similar to an in-person interview, you should be very well prepared about the role you are interviewing for and avoid common mistakes. Do your research about your potential employer, the kind of projects they handle, who their clients are, the company culture and if it echoes your values, and so on. Plan beforehand for frequently asked curveball questions such as: Why join us? Why are you leaving your current employer? Avoid answering these questions on the fly without practicing your responses in advance so that you feel more comfortable and confident about what you say. Hone your storytelling skills to represent yourself in a manner where you can showcase your abilities beyond just your CV.
Vinay Trivedi, Head Human Resources at ToneTag, Bengaluru recommends that every candidate starts by writing an essay about themselves while prepping for interviews; an essay outlining their life story – starting from their childhood, to their achievements, their failures, and what they changed about themselves.
This will be a good seven – eight days activity because you have to recollect and really write a long story about yourself. We have templatized much of our responses that we just can’t think beyond – I was born in this city, brought up here, did my schooling here, my college there. This exercise will help them think beyond and get their real story out. It gives you a perspective of how you’ve grown and how you’ve changed over a period of time. It also gives you arms and ammunition about failures, success-stories, adversities, challenges that you faced, and all the new things that you’ve done. So this essay will put all of that in perspective. And this activity not only makes you more confident, but gives you more variety in your profile.
Technical interviews for developers can be challenging, as you may be required to use interactive tools to collaborate. Many companies are now using virtual code editors like CoderPad and CodeInterview for a real-time experience, so familiarize yourself with the tools (if demo versions are available) before the interview. And keep in mind, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. So, before you start working on the problem assigned to you, clarify all your doubts, irrespective of how silly they may seem to you.
Dress the part
Just because you are remotely interviewing, it doesn’t mean you can do so lounging in your pajamas. Dress for the job you want and dress for how you want to be addressed. Wearing a business casual outfit can be a safe bet when interviewing. A simple rule of thumb is to dress as you would for an in-person interview. Besides, dressing up in an appropriate attire can put you in the right frame of mind for the interview. Apart from making a good first impression, the advantage of dressing well for remote job interviews is that it shows the interviewer that you are taking the job seriously. Also, good posture and body language can make you appear more amiable and warm.
Your interview does not have to be onesided, with the interviewer asking you all the questions. Interviews are also an opportunity for you to understand the role and expectation of the job better, and to gauge if you get a positive feeling about working with the employer. So, ask the interview detailed questions about the job. Think of the interview as a game of ping-pong: the interviewer asks a question, you reply; you ask the interviewer a related question, and they reply. Taking a keen interest shows the interviewer that you are motivated and will create a positive impression.
Once the interview is done, thank the interviewer for their time. It is also a good practice to send a thank-you email within 24-hours of the interview. The interviewer will appreciate that you put effort into the interaction. However, avoid the temptation to follow up multiple times. Over-eagerness can put off the hiring manager.
Build a rapport
We are all going through nearly the same struggles with the Coronavirus lockdown, and therefore talking about your experience can act as an icebreaker. Just like in an in-person interview, exchange pleasantries, ask the interviewer about themselves. You never know what you have in common and can build a connection. While it is important to maintain a human, in-person feel in the interview; on the other hand, beware of oversharing or being overly friendly. You don’t want to come across as you are complaining or being negative when the objective of the interview is to emphasize the positives.
Of course, to make a lasting impression in a remote interview, you need to have an interview. And, that’s something we can help you with. Talent500 is a career accelerator & talent discovery platform with over 800 current openings. Sign up, beat the assessment, and get discovered by Fortune 500 companies.