Job interviews can be nerve-wracking no matter how they take place.
Remote interviews are especially daunting, since you’re trying to connect with the interviewers while dealing with the ins and outs of cameras, background noises, and potential internet troubles.
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These tips will help ensure you’re able to put your best foot forward, even from hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.
9 tips for successful video interviews
1. Ensure you have a fast, reliable internet connection
If a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? If a new scientific breakthrough is shared on a crummy connection, is it still brilliant? A poor connection means you risk unclear audio on the call, which is a real deal breaker. No matter what excellent preparation you do for the call, if your interviewers can’t hear you, you’re cooked.
2. Get the hardware you need
Plan to take your call on a computer with a webcam. While you can use a tablet or phone if needed, be sure to set it up in a way that you don’t have to hold it during the call. To get clearer audio, plan to wear headphones. Headphones reduce the chances that you’ll get an echo and minimize surprise background noise. While you can go as fancy as you’d like on a headset, the earbuds with a microphone that come with most mobile phones will also do the trick.
3. Master your tools
Remote interviews are unique in that your relationship with your potential new employer is brokered by technology, not by sharing space and connecting in the same room. Take the time to learn and get comfortable with any tools that will power your interview. This way, the technology will blend seamlessly into the background so your human connection will shine through.
Check to see if you need to set up an account or download new software for the video call service you’ll be using for the interview. You don’t want to be late to join the call on the big day because you didn’t download a plugin.
Make sure you know how to manage the audio inputs/outputs on your computer, as well as adjust the audio in the video call service.
Practice muting and unmuting yourself, sharing your screen and so on.
4. Set the stage
When you’re on a call, practice how you’re going to sit in relation to the camera. Check your background to make sure there’s nothing in the shot that would detract from your interview. If you’re using multiple monitors, set them up so that you’ll be looking directly into the camera on the screen ahead of you. Otherwise, your interviewers will be looking at the side of your face and you’ll look unfocused.
5. Light from the front.
This Skillcrush article lays it out nicely (see #8).
Backlit Skillcrush• Source:
Light from the front Skillcrush• Source:
6. Go somewhere quiet
Don’t try to conduct an interview from a coffee shop! Eliminate the potential for interruptions (unless you want something like this to happen, adorable as it was).
7. Turn off notifications
Your video interview won’t start with a reel from the movies asking you to turn off your cell phone, so add this to your pre-interview checklist! Also make sure to turn off notifications for other online services that might ping, ring, or otherwise play a jaunty tune and distract you from your interview. Sign out of messaging services, put on Do Not Disturb in Slack, close out of social media sites that give you notifications, and close any browser windows or tabs that might surprise you with an auto-play video.
8. Set any note-taking expectations
Taking notes during an interview is encouraged, but if you plan to type notes on the same device from which you’ll be taking the call, let your interviewers know so they’ll know you aren’t being rude or distracted.
Video Interview Tech Checklist
Get your ducks in a row! Download this handy cheat sheet for a successful video interview.
9. Do a test run
On the day of your interview, you don’t want the technology that is allowing you the opportunity to work at a remote company to trip you up on the interview! Practice so that the technology will feel invisible to you and your interviewer. You can practice with anyone — it doesn’t have to be a professional connection. If you’re struggling to think of someone who would practice with you, use this as an opportunity to reconnect with a friend or family member with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. If you’re not used to video calls, you’ll have a nice chance to experience the richer connection of witnessing each other’s reactions on camera in real time.
Pro Tip Have a backup plan
No matter how much you prepare, a video tool can break and your call can fizzle out into the electronic ether. Do a test run the day of your interview to make sure everything is still working and be prepared to send an alternate suggestion, such as a traditional phone call, to the interviewers in case technology fails.
Personal prep tips
From Leah Knobler, Internal Recruiter at Help Scout
Once you have your quiet corner with reliable internet picked out and a laptop charged and ready, you’re almost ready to wow your interviewer. But consider these things for the big dance:
Is this a formal interview or a casual chat? Either way, leave your worn out, hole-riddled Backstreet Boys t-shirt in the drawer for this one. Wear what feels good, but keep it simple and professional.
Look into the webcam! I know that might feel unnatural, but it will give the interviewer the sense that you’re making eye contact and paying attention to what they’re saying.
Don’t move! OK, so that’s not entirely reasonable, but try not to fidget, swivel your chair, type on the keyboard, or leave the frame of the video chat. It’s distracting and feels offputting.
If something happens with the connection, be honest! We’re never upset if a candidate asks us to repeat something because the screen froze temporarily.
Have fun. Smiling, laughing and showing you’re enjoying the video chat are absolutely encouraged.
It’s show time!
In the end, interviewing for a remote job is no different than interviewing for any job at a co-located company: You need to convey your passion for the company, and display what value you can add to their business.
Preparing thoughtfully so you’ll have comfort and confidence in the technology powering your call will allow you to focus on the important work of presenting yourself as an excellent candidate and knocking your interview out of the park.