Interviews can be nerve-racking for anyone, but when you’re applying for remote jobs, there’s a whole different level of stress that comes with the event. Instead of communicating with your interviewer face-to-face, you’ll be meeting on a phone or video call.
Are you prepared to introduce yourself and explain why you’re the perfect person for the job when you can’t connect in person? Eye contact and nonverbal communications can go along way, and sometimes, that can be hard to convey over a video call. It’s completely impossible to accomplish when you’re on the phone!
We caught up with Carrie Sharpe, communications consultant and speaker, and discussed how professionals can best brush up on their audio and video skills before their next remote job interview. Here’s what she had to say.
Practice. Practice. Practice. This is something any professional should do before interviewing for their next job, and there are many ways to do it for both audio and video calls.
Sharpe suggests that for audio calls interviewees should, “Practice key talking points and record yourself. Then, listen to your recording and make adjustments as needed for sound quality.”
As for video, she also suggests recording yourself, and says, “Watch the video and make adjustments as needed. Ask a trusted colleague, friend, or spouse for feedback, too. Listen for nervous habits that you need to change or distracting background sounds that need to be eliminated.”
And let’s not forget about tech issues. Nothing can derail an interview than issues with connectivity or even worse, not being able to connect at all.
Sharpe says, “Your interviewer will tell you what audio or video software you’ll be using for your call. Try it out ahead of time. Prepare for a full video call even if you think it will be audio-only just in case.”
She continues, Necessary tech needs vary, but all calls require headphones and a decent microphone. Earbuds with an attached microphone are usually sufficient as long as your hair and jewelry don’t muffle or bump the microphone. Test your equipment with the software provided in advance so you can make adjustments if needed.”
Finally, don’t forget to check your internet connection. Sharpe says, “Be sure yours will handle the call, and be sure no one in your home or office is using up all the bandwidth during your call with video games or streaming.”
There are a few things you need to consider for video and audio calls that are much easier to notice when you’re in person. For example, one thing you don’t want to do is interrupt the person interviewing you.
Sharpe agrees and says, “Be careful to make sure the interviewer is done talking before you speak so you don’t talk over that person. There is occasionally a time delay on audio calls, so be aware of that.”
The same problem can happen on video calls, too. It’s also important to station yourself somewhere in your home where the internet is strong to avoid time delays.
You’re going to want to put the same effort into interviewing for remote jobs as you would one in which you report to a traditional workplace every day. The key to a successful interview is in research and preparation.
First, learn a little about the person interviewing you if you know their name. Check out their LinkedIn profile and see if there are any natural connections you can mention during the call. Maybe you attended the same college or have a work acquaintance in common.
Even if there is no common thread for relationship building, Sharpe has a suggestion to connect with your interviewer. She says, “Use his or her name naturally throughout the conversation.”
She also suggests coming to the interview with some notes to help ground you and keep you focused. “Notes are super helpful during an interview as long as they are not used as a script, read verbatim, or shuffled,” says Sharpe. “That sound is annoying on a call. Keep your notes simple so you don’t get overwhelmed during the call. A few bullet points on a single piece of paper should suffice. Include details about the interviewer, important points about the company, your most relevant experience and accomplishments, and questions you have.”
Where you choose to hold the interview is just as important as what you say during it. For example, if you’re working from a loud coffee shop, an decide to dial into the call from where you are, there’a a great chance you or the interviewer will have difficulty understanding what is being said. Asking the other person to repeat themselves can be annoying for both parties, and it also hinders a smooth progression of questions. If you’re working from a loud location, remove yourself to somewhere that is more quiet. For an audio call, your car would be better than the coffee shop. If you’re in a co-working space, see if they have phone booths or conference rooms you could reserve for the interview.
Sharpe agrees and adds a few points, “For an audio-only call, be sure you are in a quiet room that does not echo. Remove anything that makes noise like heaters, fans, pets, children, and ticking clocks. Speak loudly, slowly, and clearly.” Oh, and one more thing, she also suggests, “Don’t gulp water or chew gum during the interview.”
In regard to video suggestions, Sharpe says, “Your video call should look professional and have nothing the interviewer will be distracted by in the background. Choose a well-lit room that won’t cast shadows on your face. A plain wall, bookcase, or (tidy) office makes an excellent backdrop for your interview and will keep the focus on you — and nothing else. Above all else, do not have a bed in your background even if you are recording in a bedroom.”
Let’s jump right to the point: what you choose to wear says a lot about who you are. It’s wonderful to portray anything that’s important to you. For example, if you’re an artisan applying for a creative job, feel free to wear a hand-crafted necklace or earrings that make a statement. However, if you show up wearing pajamas or a stained-shirt, you’re portraying that you haven’t put any effort into this interview. To be blunt, it looks like you simply don’t care.
Sharpe says, “Interviewees will be judged by what they wear on a video call as much as they’d be judged by what they wear to an in-person interview. Don’t wear noisy jewelry like bangle bracelets that could become distracting, and do your hair and makeup as you normally would.”
While people often joke about wearing pajama pants on video calls, the interview isn’t time to do that. According to Sharpe, “Even though the lower half of your body most likely won’t show up on the video, skip the sleepwear and opt instead for work-appropriate bottoms. If your interviewer asks you to get something you have to stand up for, you’ll be glad you aren’t wearing your Cookie Monster pajama pants.”
When it’s time for the big event, do your best to portray enthusiasm and interest in the job. It’s not just your answers to their questions the interviewer is judging. It’s also how motivate you seem and how much you appear to want the position.
Sharpe says, “Smiling helps you seem friendly and personable — even if the interviewer can’t see you on an audio call.”
Finally, Sharpe reminds us, “Interviewers usually ask ‘What questions do you have?’ at the end of interviews, so have a few intelligent questions prepared. Don’t forget to end the call by thanking the interviewer for considering you.”
Take a deep breath, prepare in advance of the call, and show you being unabashedly yourself. You’ve got this.
Looking for more advice on working remotely? Check out our newest book, 30 Hacks for Productive Remote Workers, part workbook and part guide that will help you work smarter, not harder. Oh, and did we mention that it was written by remote workers for remote workers? This advice is tried and tested, and we know it will help you maximize your productivity.
Featured image by Ali Yahya
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