With nearly half of all interviews for technology-related jobs being conducted remotely, job seekers should prepare for them just as they would for an in-person interview at the company’s own offices.
More companies are conducting interviews with job candidates via phone, Skype or video conference, especially for first interviews where a hiring manager is simply trying to pre-screen candidates for the team or when a candidate lives too far away to justify flying in for a quick interview at this early stage in the process. But job seekers are not always comfortable with the virtual aspect of this kind of interview.
Unfortunately, lack of preparation for a remote interview can put even the best candidate in an unfavorable light and ruin their chances for a next round, onsite interview. The saying, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” really rings true in these situations.
Here are some suggestions for job seekers who stand a good chance of having to be interviewed remotely:
- Land lines still offer the best connection: When possible, arrange to conduct the interview over a land line. Cell calls, which are more routine than ever, still get dropped and can prove unreliable in the most important moments.
- Go to a quiet place: A barking dog, crying baby or street traffic all present a distraction. Make sure you conduct your interview in a quiet room with the door closed, just as you would be doing if you were interviewing onsite at the prospective employer.
- Get a pen and paper: Have something to write on and write with, as well as a copy of your resume, with you. Just as you would during an in-person interview, jot down important questions you want to ask, readily reference dates and key skills on your resume. Take notes about the position that the hiring manager shares with you.
- Have questions ready: Make sure you have two or three questions to ask about the position ready to ask at the end of the call. The hiring manager will most likely ask if you have any questions. In an effort to both reinforce your interest in the position, as well as cover those aspects of the position you are keen to have answers about, have those questions ready to share. Ask for example “Am I a fit for the role?” or “What are my next steps?” These reinforce that you are very interested in the position.
- Be timely: Showing up late for a job interview is getting off on the wrong foot. Be as punctual for those remote interviews as you would be in person.
- Dress appropriately: Even if the interview is virtual, make sure to dress for the office culture you are interviewing for. If it’s business casual, wear a button-down shirt and slacks. If it’s a suit-and-tie shop, dress to impress. The only exception would be if you are coming from your current job where the dress code is different. Regardless, dress to impress. T-shirts and jeans are never suitable attire for any job interview.
- Think on your feet: If you are conducting the interview via phone, stand up when you are speaking. You will naturally have more conviction in your voice and this translates to confidence and a smile.
- Sit up straight: If your interviewer can see you during your remote interview, sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Also, feel free to gesture naturally with your hands if you do so when you are speaking in person. You will come across naturally and with confidence, as well.
- Practice, practice, practice: Sometimes the technology associated with a remote interview makes people uncomfortable. Practice on Skype with a friend; find your best angle; and get comfortable with the controls, volume and camera position, for example. Do the interview on a laptop or computer screen versus an iPad. Don’t wear white, since it is a bad choice on camera; wear a blue shirt instead. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Wear a jacket if you are prone to sweating when you are nervous.
While in-person interviews are always preferable, remote ones have become the norm, except for C-Suite executives. If you are offered a choice, always go with the in-person interview. But if not, you CAN take the steps necessary to leave a good impression.
About the Author
Kathy Harris is Managing Partner of New York City-based Harris Allied, an executive search firm specializing in Technology, UX/UI Design and Quant Analyst placement services in the Financial Services, Professional Services, Consumer Products, Digital Media and Tech Industries For more information, visit www.harrisallied.com. Contact Kathy Harris at [email protected].