A remote job interview can be quite different than a typical job interview because the meeting happens online instead of in-person.
For a traditional job interview, you’d need to worry about traffic, finding the interview location, and physically presenting yourself to the interviewer.
But for a virtual job interview, the concerns are different. While you don’t need to commute, you do need to be on your A-game in terms of working in a digital environment.
By following these 30 tips, you can drastically increase your chances of nailing a remote job interview:
1. Don’t Quit Your Old Job Yet
Ironically, having a job gives you leverage when finding a new job. It shows that you’ve been vetted and validated by another employer.
On the other hand– if you’re unemployed– then you’ll need to explain why. Hopefully you ended your last role on good terms, because you’ll likely need a reference from a previous employer or coworker.
2. Apply For the Right Role
Don’t just spray and pray, hoping to get any remote job out there. There are many different types of remote roles that you can apply for. Choose the right kind.
Be strategic about which roles you apply for. Only apply for remote jobs that align with your skillset, experience and interests. This will drastically increase your success rate because you’re playing to win, instead of playing to not lose.
3. Research the Company and Product
Most remote candidates only read the job description and don’t do any further research about the company that they’re applying for.
With just a minimal amount of effort learning about the company, you can set yourself apart from other candidates.
If you’ve already done some research about the company’s product/service, then you can have deeper and more relevant conversations with the interviewer. It becomes easier for the interviewer to imagine you as part of the team.
4. Prepare Your Answers
Improvisation is overrated. Preparing pre-baked answers for common interview questions will make the interview process easy-peazy for you.
Think about your previous job experience. Write out a lengthy description of what your biggest challenges were, how you overcame them, and what you learned. What special skills did you develop? What tools did you use? How did you leverage planning and collaboration?
That’s your story. Embedded in that story are the answers to many of the questions you’ll be asked on the interview.
While there’s a way to get a remote job without previous experience, it’s not going to be easy.
5. Download Prerequisite Software
Different remote interviews require different software programs. Make sure to check which software will be used to conduct the interview.
Whether it’s Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or another platform– you’ll need to download the software and/or create a new account for it (if you don’t already have one).
It’s best to prepare the software before you join the interview meeting so that you don’t fumble for 20 minutes and waste time. Oh, and don’t forget to install the latest update for the software, too!
6. Check Your Internet Connection
Your internet connection is the lifeblood of working online. If your internet connection is weak, then the online conference call will start to stutter, essentially ruining the call beyond resolution.
Run an internet speed test to ensure that both your download and upload speeds are up to par. Make sure that your WIFI connection is strong. If your wireless modem is in another room, a wall might cause a weakened connection.
Or, you can plug an Ethernet cable directly from your modem into your computer to ensure the most stable connection. It’s old-school, but works like a charm.
7. Prepare Your Cellular Data as a Backup
If your home internet goes down, you’re not entirely out of options.
By activating your smartphone’s hotspot feature, you’ll be able to connect to the hotspot via WIFI and continue using the internet on your computer. In some instances, the cellular connection might even be faster than your home WIFI.
8. Find a Good Camera Angle
By joining an online conference call, it’s almost like inviting someone into your home with limited viewing.
The nice thing is: you don’t need to show your entire room. You can control what others will see.
If you put your back to a wall, then your camera view will only consist of yourself and a flat background.
9. Setup Good Lighting
Of course, once you’ve got a good camera angle, it’s helpful to pay attention to lighting. Bad lighting will make it look like you’re Batman in his lair.
Good lighting is achieved when your face is adequately lit up so you are clearly visible in the camera. In real life, we expect to clearly see people’s faces. A remote job interview is no different.
10. Test Your Microphone Sound Quality
Sound quality is arguably more important than camera quality, because it’s how communication is done. Make sure to check your audio levels to ensure that your voice will be heard loud and clear.
A decent microphone or headset can help block out some of the background noise and provide a high quality signal. There are also programs like Krisp that can digitally block out noise.
11. Remove Background Distractions
Removing any pestering background distractions helps the interview go smoother. This applies to both sounds and visuals.
If you have a dog barking in the background, then move Buddy into another room for the duration of the call. Radios, televisions and crying babies should be turned off– err… well, you get the point.
Sometimes, visual background elements can be distracting, too. Flashing Christmas lights and Mardi Gras decorations will pull attention away from you– the individual. The goal is to keep things simple, minimal, and focused on the interaction between you and the interviewer.
12. Dress Up and Groom
Although you can technically wear pajamas when working remotely, you should at least dress casual for the remote interview. It shows a minimal level of professionalism. Even though you just woke up 5 minutes ago, don’t forget to brush your hair, too.
Typically, interviewers probably don’t actually care how spiffy you look during the interview– but why not gain the extra 2 points?
13. Use the Restroom Before the Meeting
One of the most awkward things you can do on a virtual interview is excuse yourself to use the restroom in the middle of the call. It’s okay because you’re human. But it’s still awkward.
Not to lean too deep into potty-training territory, but it’s normal to feel a sudden need to use the restroom right before the call. Nervousness can have that effect. Get it out of your system so that you can give full focus on the interview.
14. Don’t Pump Yourself Up
A remote job interview isn’t a boxing match. It’s just sitting down and having a few discussions. It’s better to go into the interview with a calm energy than to be overly boisterous and beefed up. Being a good listener is more important than being a good talker.
15. Join the Meeting Early
It’s always a good idea not to be late. And if we’re being honest, you’re either early or you’re late. There is no in-between.
Joining the meeting early isn’t just about being considerate. It’s actually a good idea regardless, because last-minute technical issues may arise. You might need to log into Zoom before joining the call, or install a mandatory software update.
Joining 5 minutes early gives you 5 minutes to fix any potential problems that come up.
16. Remember That it’s Mutual
Far too often, remote job hunters approach the interview as if it’s an exam that needs to be passed. That’s not a great mindset.
Remember that landing a remote job is a mutual agreement between yourself and the employer. Both parties must agree to work together. You have a certain amount of value in the market based your industry, skills and experience.
When you internalize this mindset, you convey confidence during interviews.
17. Stay Positive
While you don’t need to be preppy and overly cheerful, a smile and a good vibe can go a long way into building rapport with the interviewer.
One of the ways that an interviewer gauges a potential candidate is to see if the candidate is “personable”. It fundamentally means whether the interviewer could see themselves wanting to work with you.
Even if you’ve got all the skills and experience, remote organizations still look for candidates with good energy.
18. Speak (Adequately) Loud
If you speak, then do so loud and clear. If you talk too low, then your microphone might not pick up the sound. Then, the interviewer will have a hard time deciphering what you’re trying to say.
It’s good practice to ask “can you hear me?” at the start of the call to confirm that there are no audio issues for both parties. Doing so will prevent a situation where you end up rambling 2 minutes of unheard dialogue while the interviewer is too polite to interrupt you.
19. Mute Your Mic When You Aren’t Speaking
During an online conference call, it’s good etiquette to mute your microphone when others on the online meeting are speaking. Why? Because there’s a chance that an audio feedback loop might occur when your speaker audio gets picked up by your microphone. The undesirable affect is multiplied when multiple participants on the call don’t mute themselves.
20. Give Deep Answers
During the interview, you might be asked a multitude of questions. Providing shallow answers makes it seem like you aren’t very knowledgeable in your field. So don’t be afraid to provider deeper and more thorough answers to prove your knowledge.
Interview questions are not typically designed to have single correct answer. Good interview questions are open-ended and are intended to give you a chance to express how you think, solve problems, and handle conflict.
21. Ask Your Own Questions
An interview isn’t just about giving answers. It’s 2-sided, remember?
The interviewer will appreciate when you ask them questions. Because it shows some baseline interest in the company. But it also conveys important personality traits: humbleness and knowledge-seeking.
Asking questions shows that you aren’t pretending to know all the answers. It also conveys that you open-minded and want to be involved with something bigger than yourself.
But most importantly, asking questions allows you to collect knowledge about the company and build leverage during the interview…
22. Find Common Ground
After you’ve asked a few questions, you should have some basic knowledge about the company, and the product/service being offered. With this knowledge, you can start to tweak your responses to be more relevant to the interviewer.
For example, you might ask the interviewer something like “what has been the biggest challenge for your company lately?”
In response, you can emphasize how your skills and experience can help the organization to solve the problem. If you’ve experienced a similar challenge in your previous job experience, and resolved it, then that’s bonus points.
23. Use Body Language (But Don’t Let it Use You)
Body language is especially important during a remote interview because of the lack of physical presence. Body language can convey both good and bad things.
Playing with your hair too much, or scrunching up your face can indicate that you’re nervous. Don’t stress too much about body language, but be mindful of any unusual habits you might have when you’re under stress. Stay calm and keep cool.
There are ways to use body language to your advantage, too. Nodding your head when the interviewer is speaking is a polite way to indicate to them that you can hear and understand what they’re saying. Because on an online video call, there’s always a chance that audio can cut out or be inaudible.
24. Keep Your Eyes on the Screen
It’s a tiny thing that can be a big annoyance. Looking away from the screen during the interview makes it seem as if you’re distracted and not fully engaged in the interview.
Whether a family member walks into the room, or your cat jumps on the couch– try not to pull eye contact away from the interviewer. They’ll appreciate that you took the interview seriously.
25. Show Off Your Portfolio
Don’t be afraid to showcase your work during the call. Talk is talk, and resumes are bluffed. But seeing is believing.
Showing a tangible demo of your work can help bring credibility to your past experiences. The interviewer likely won’t mind if you share your screen for 5 minutes to show your portfolio.
A short demo can lead to deeper discussions, which leads to the interviewer having a better understanding of your experience, skill level, and relevance to their organization.
26. Talk About Timezones
One thing that sets apart a traditional job interview from a remote job interview is topic of timezones.
With different team members potentially working in different parts of the world, there will general be some overlap time for all members to meet online and synchronize efforts.
Company timezone policy will affect your schedule. If the majority of the organization is on the other side of the globe, then you’ll likely need to work at night. However, if team members are scattered around different countries, then you might need to work some hours in the day and some at night.
Make sure the discuss how the organization handles timezone differences and what hours they expect you to be online.
27. State Your Demands
During the remote interview, you should clearly state your demands. Your working terms might include:
- Working Hours (Timezone Overlap)
- Ability to work in different regions
Making your demands clear from the first interview will save time for both you and the interviewer, ensuring that there are no misunderstandings moving forward.
It’s also a bold move which signals that you are a high-quality candidate who knows their worth on the market. Your interviewer will ultimately have a higher level of respect for you.
28. Clarify the Paperwork
Employment terms aren’t always straightforward, especially for remote companies where employees may work in different timezones.
Some workers are legal “employees” of the organization. Employees typically have access to health care benefits, a 401K plan, and their taxes are withheld by the company.
While other workers are technically “contractors” on paper. A contractor doesn’t get benefits, nor do they have their taxes deducted. Instead, a contractor gets their full paycheck and it’s their own responsibility to file taxes and purchase health care.
Remote companies have employees in different cities, states, and countries. It’s a good idea to clarify what the company is offering, and what you’re willing to accept for employment terms.
29. Respect Their Time
Keep an eye on the time during the interview. If you notice that there’s only 5 minutes left, then consider that the interview is likely to conclude very soon. Ask the interviewer if you should keep the answers brief in order to fit into the allotted time.
Sometimes an interviewer is okay with extended the meeting beyond the initial allotted time– just make sure everyone is okay with that.
30. Don’t Be Desperate
Once the interview has concluded, there’s really no need to continue to reach out to the company. If it’s a match, then you’ll get a follow-up email very soon. But don’t wait for the follow-up either. Just keep applying for more remote gigs.
Conveying desperation in a job interview won’t land you the job. High-quality candidates aren’t desperate because they have options. You should always remember that, every day, there are new remote job positions that need to be filled. Stay consistent and you’ll eventually land a nice remote gig.