4 tips to nail a remote interview

Remote interviews are fast becoming standard. Consider these expert tips to set yourself up for success
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The way we work keeps changing, but one thing is for certain: Remote work is here to stay.

Many large companies are implementing a hybrid model in which employees go to a physical office three days a week. HR and recruiting teams are revamping their hiring processes accordingly, with interviewing and onboarding remotely via Zoom and other virtual collaboration tools becoming the norm.

Interviews – whether remote or in-person – can be nerve-wracking. If you are someone who relies on reading body language and more nuanced expressions and cues for optimal communication, an interview on a screen might be your worst nightmare.

Relax – you can do this. Here are four tips to nail your next remote interview.

1. Set yourself up for success

Before you even start your interview, it is critical you make time for proper research and preparation to set yourself up for success. Go beyond the job description and read up on the company and the role.

[ Want more advice on remote work? Read Remote work exhaustion: 13 tips to reduce fatigue. ]

Explore their website and read blogs, recent company news, and any articles written about the organization. Research what customers as well as past employees have to say. Referencing these things with confidence during the interview shows you’re serious and have done your homework.

Understand – and be prepared to succinctly articulate – how your specific skill set provides value to the company and will further help them achieve their business goals.

Also, be ready to discuss how you are productive and successful in a remote setting, and mention any past remote work experience and achievements as proof points.

As you are setting up for your interview, remember the remote work basics. Make sure the following details are in place:

  • Your WiFi signal is strong (and you have a robust backup plan in case it goes down)
  • The room is quiet
  • Your video background is clean and not distracting
  • Your wardrobe is appropriate

Think of your video background almost as the new handshake – it’s a small component of your interaction but can sometimes make a big difference.

2. Leverage storytelling and go beyond your resume

You should know your resumé well enough to be able to speak to what’s on the page without having to check or add unnecessary commentary. Practice going over your resumé to the point where you can not only relay your background in detail but communicate your accomplishments and career trajectory in a well-crafted, engaging story.

Practice with someone and ask them to give you feedback on your delivery or even write down expanded responses so you have an idea of what you’re going to say to each experience. Telling a story instead of simply listing your past roles and responsibilities enables a more interesting conversation and makes you a more memorable candidate to the interviewer.

Communicate your background in a way that goes beyond your technical expertise. Be sure to convey how you’ll thrive in a remote work environment.

For IT professionals, you’ll need to communicate your background in a way that goes beyond your technical expertise. Be sure to convey how you’ll thrive in a remote work environment. For that, skills such as emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to collaborate and communicate virtually and asynchronously, being a problem-solver, mastering self-directed learning, and being self-motivated are essential.

Prepare for questions that delve into how you have solved conflicts and problems in a remote setting, managed competing priorities, and received and relayed feedback virtually.

3. Treat it like an in-person interview

You may be in your living or dining room, but treat the interview just as you would an in-person interview to nail first impressions. Greet each interviewer properly and as the conversation continues, try not to speak over the interviewer – which can be more difficult via video and without physical cues.

Do whatever you can to avoid any possible distractions from the outside world by turning off all notifications and having only the interview up on your screen. Consider everything from lighting to eye contact. This helps you make sure you’re engaged with everyone who’s on the screen and that you can positively and meaningfully add to the conversation.

Finally, don’t forget attire: How you dress still matters on-screen and a neat, business-appropriate outfit will help you feel more confident and convey your professionalism.

4. Think beyond the interview

Your candidacy does not end when you close your computer screen. Later that same day or early the next day, send a quick but thoughtful email to your interviewers, thanking them for their time and interest in your candidacy. Be sure to tailor it for each interview and include interesting and/or actionable references from the interview. You might also point to something that was discussed – for example, highlighting the ways that you’ve previously contributed to your role, how you are in touch with current and relevant industry trends, or reiterating your expertise in what is needed to be successful in the role.

As an IT and technology professional, you must effectively convey your breadth of knowledge and experience in these short conversations. Work as we know it has changed forever and understanding how to navigate – and nail – a remote interview is necessary for almost any future tech role. By using these tips and mastering remote interviewing, you will set yourself up for greater success.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Samantha Lawrence is the SVP of People Strategy at Hired, an AI-driven marketplace matching tech and sales talent with top companies such as Instacart, Dropbox, Zendesk, Capital One, and Peloton.