10 Steps to Nailing your Remote Interview


 While some interviews were being conducted remotely before Covid19, these days they are just about all done remotely. And now that companies are ramping back up, it’s time to get your remote interview game ON. Here’s how.

1: Make sure you’re being front lit. This means the light should be coming from IN FRONT of you, NOT behind you (you’ll be in darkness), and not exclusively overhead (will cause shadows). If it’s possible to be in front of a window, that’s best. Natural light is super flattering. If that’s not possible, put a lamp directly behind your camera. I take the lampshade off mine and use a 200 watt bulb; the brighter the better.

2: Put the camera at EYE level. You’ll probably have to prop your laptop on a stack of books or maybe a small box. Play with the level until you get it right. Why? You want to mirror the live in-person feeling of interviewing as best you can. Plus, you’ve probably seen people in Zoom meetings or on TV who are looking down or up and not at eye level. It looks weird, right? Don’t let that be you.

3: Look at the camera – NOT at the screen. This is really hard to get used to. Because we’re humans, we like to look one another in the eye. Unfortunately, when you look your interviewer “in the eye” on the screen, you’re looking at his or her image on the screen; NOT at him or her. In order for the interviewer to feel as though you’re looking directly at them, you must be looking at the camera. Don’t believe me? Test it out with a friend or colleague. Look at their image on the screen and ask them to tell you what it looks like to them. (It looks like you’re looking somewhere other than at them.)

4: Watch your background. Your background can be interesting (bookshelves, artwork) but it must be neat. If you have to be in your bedroom, position the camera so the interviewer cannot see your bed. And please don’t have anything in the background that’s distracting, or would cause an interviewer to question your candidacy for the position.

5: Beware of ambient noise. Is there a tree being cut down next door? is your dog barking incessantly? Do whatever you can to create a sound studio for yourself. The last thing you want is to be shouting over a leaf blower…

6: Get there early, just as you would do for a live in-person interview. Get to the Zoom room or WebEx or Google Hangout room about 10 minutes early. Why? First, so you can make sure the link works, your internet connection works. You can usually see if your audio and video works, check yourself out – make sure you’re looking your best, make sure the volume for the audio is adequate. Also, you want to be there ready for them to come into the room. You never want to keep them waiting.

7: Watch your posture. Be sure you can sit up straight, ideally on the front half of your chair. This is not the time to be on your couch, your comfiest chair, a bean bag or a stool. Speaking of which; sit on a kitchen or dining room chair rather than an office chair. Why? Office chairs are designed for comfort, not necessarily for posture. A kitchen chair will make it easier to sit up straight.PLUS, kitchen chairs aren’t on wheels, so you won’t be able to roll around. Which brings us to #8.

8: Sit still. Don’t rock back and forth, don’t fidget. If you’re someone who gestures when you speak, that’s fine, just make sure you are gesturing at shoulder height so your gestures can be seen.

9: DO NOT READ. Under ANY circumstances. You’re being asked questions about yourself. You should know this stuff. If you think you want to write it out so that it will sound better, think again. It will sound like reading. #FAIL.

10: Practice the answers to likely questions OUT LOUD. Want to really sound your best? This is the way to do it, and there is no way around it. If you can, get a family member or friend to do a mock interview with you. PLEASE. Just do it. Thinking through the answers, or even writing them down is not the same as actually talking through them. We all sound like geniuses in our heads. Out of our mouths? Not so much. The last thing you want is to hear yourself giving a rambling answer to an important question. And Zoom makes practice easy. Get on a Zoom call with a friend or relative and have a mock interview. You’ll be able to see how you look as well as hear your answers. Ideal!

Don’t be daunted by interviewing remotely. You’ve got this. Follow these 10 simple steps and you’ll be on your way to NAILING your next remote interview. Yes, you.

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