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25 Tips for Acing a Remote Interview

The combination of a scarcity of jobs and the emergence of new technologies has made it more common than ever for job applicants to take part in remote interviews. Remote interviews provide a way for companies to screen potential employees and to save applicants time and money for travel, making them attractive choices for both parties. While remote interviews, whether by phone or over the computer, are more common than ever, that doesn’t make them any less intimidating. Whether it’s your first remote interview or your hundredth, here are some tips that can help make the process a less stressful, more successful experience no matter what kind of job you’re interviewing for.

  1. Get the right equipment.

    If you’re going to be giving an interview over a teleconferencing site like Skype, then make sure you have equipment that is going to make it easy for interviewers to hear and see you. If you can’t afford to buy the right tech, see if you can borrow microphones or webcams from friends that will suit your needs for the interview.

  2. Know how to use your technology.

    Not only do you need to make sure that you have the right tools for the job, but you also need to know how to use them. Spend some time in the days prior to the interview learning how to use the tech you’ll need, both the hardware and the software. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a reliable Internet connection and that your devices are powerful enough to maintain a lengthy online interview. All of this testing will save you big headaches later on, so it’s worth the time and investment.

  3. Give your profile a makeover.

    You might usually use your Skype account for personal matters, but if you’re going to be using it in an interview then you need to make sure it’s professionally appropriate. If it’s not, give it a makeover or create a new account that’s purely for business use.

  4. Look your best.

    Just because you’re not going into the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look businesslike and professional. When doing a remote interview, even from your own home after work hours, you still need to dress just as you would if you were interviewing in person.

  5. Know your stuff.

    Before your interview, do a little research on the company and the person or people who will be interviewing you. Print out some of the information you find most interesting so that you’ll have it on hand to reference during the interview, and use it to generate some questions for your interviewers to answer about their company as well.

  6. Find a good place to talk.

    Prior to the day of the interview, scout good places in your home or nearby that will be quiet and that have good Internet connections. Finding a place where you can concentrate and won’t be disturbed is critical to ensuring that your interview goes smoothly, but you’ll also want to pay attention to the backdrop you’re creating. For example, a cluttered kitchen or a messy desk isn’t the image you really want to project to employers, so clean up the scenery before you start.

  7. Have everything you need at hand.

    You don’t want to have to rummage around or get up mid-interview to retrieve things that you need. Put everything you’ll need, from a glass of water to a copy of your rŽsumŽ, right on a table or other surface near you so you can grab it without hassle if necessary.

  8. Relax.

    If you’ve never done a remote interview before (or even if you have), the experience can be a bit stressful. Yet that stress and anxiety isn’t going to help you interview well. Remind yourself to relax, slow down, and think about your answers and demeanor. If you’re the nervous type, put a sticky note on your laptop that reminds you to relax.

  9. Pay attention to lighting.

    You want your interview space to be well lit so that your interviewer will be able to see your face and not just a grainy, blurry image of where it should be. Make sure that the lighting in your space is sufficient to give a clear image, but not so bright that it washes everything out.

  10. Follow up.

    Just like with a face-to-face interview, you’ll want to follow up with your interviewer 24 to 48 hours later. Send an email or give them a call to see how things went and figure out when your next interview will be, or when they’ll make a decision on the position.

  11. Ask friends for feedback.

    If you have time, do a trial run of your remote interview with your friends. They can help point out any things that you’re doing that seem weird or off-putting (you may have more odd tics than you realize) and can help you work through any technical issues you may be having.

  12. Have a backup plan.

    There is great wisdom in the line “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” especially when modern technology is involved. Even if you’re careful to try everything out in advance, there are no guarantees that things won’t happen to disrupt your interview. Make sure you have a backup plan in place so that no matter what happens you’ll be prepared and ready to give your interview.

  13. Remove distractions.

    When doing your remote interview, you don’t want any distractions taking your attention away from the process. That means that pets need to be shut out or occupied, cell phones turned off, and web browsing needs to stop. Make sure anyone your share your household with also knows that you’re not to be disturbed.

  14. Be ready early.

    If you can help it, don’t wait until the last minute to get ready for your interview. Get yourself looking good, set up your materials, and power up your computer 15-20 minutes in advance. You never know; an interviewer might decide to call early and it’s always good to be prepared.

  15. Speak clearly and at a good volume.

    Pay close attention to how you’re speaking in the interview. Ensure that you’re speaking clearly and at a volume that your interviewers can hear. Otherwise, they may mishear or not hear you at all.

  16. Get the body language right.

    Even though you’re not speaking to your interviewer in person, body language still matters. Make eye contact, remain natural, smile, and keep hand and body movements to a minimum.

  17. Don’t rush.

    While technology has made it possible to enjoy rapid, almost instantaneous conversations over the web, there can still be delays. Allow a pause between sentences to ensure that your interviewers will hear you and be ready for the next issue at hand. Not rushing also helps you to pace yourself, avoid stress, and allows you more time to think, so it’s a smart strategy to use.

  18. Listen carefully for cues.

    If you’re doing your remote interview the old-fashioned way, over the phone, then in addition to many of these other tips you’ll need to focus on improving your listening skills. Pay close attention to vocal cues that will tell you when to speak or what interviewers might be feeling.

  19. Keep your answers short and to the point.

    While you never want to ramble on in any kind of interview, attention spans can often be shorter in remote interviews than in person. Ensure that you get to the point quickly and don’t spend too much time answering any one question, unless the interviewer asks for more clarification.

  20. Make it a conversation.

    Interviews are not designed to be a one-way street. You are allowed, and perhaps even advised, to ask questions of your own if you have them. You want to make sure that the company you’re interviewing with is a good fit for you too, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

  21. Focus only on the interview.

    While it might be tempting to check your email while interviewing, resist the urge. You’d be surprised how easy it is to tell if someone isn’t focused, even if you’re just talking on the phone.

  22. Make the most of tech tools.

    Interviewing remotely does offer some advantages, at least in terms of easy access to technology. Programs like Skype and Google Hangouts allow you to easily share examples of your work with your interviewers, making it simple to show off your skills and give examples of what you’ve done in the past.

  23. Remember to look into the camera.

    When having an online conversation it can be tempting to look at the screen rather than at the camera. While that might be fine when the interviewer is talking, if you want to look professional you need to look at the camera, not the screen, when you’re talking.

  24. Be honest.

    If it’s your first time using certain programs or even doing a remote interview, just be honest. It might be the first time for the interviewer too, and the common ground and honesty can set a good stage for your interview.

  25. Treat a remote interview like an in-person one.

    The best tip for acing a remote interview? Treat it like any other interview. All the same rules apply to online and phone interviews as face-to-face interviews. Remember that and you’ve already set yourself up for success.

January 14th, 2013 written by Staff Writers

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