Remote Interviewing, Our Tips To Nail It First Time

Wondering how to prepare for an upcoming remote interview? Whether it’s your first ever interview or you’re a seasoned remote interview-er, read on to find out Upstack’s top tips on how to ace yours.

Firstly, preparation is key.

Find out as much as you can about the hiring manager, the team, the company you’re interviewing for, their culture, ethos, and values, and of course — the job you’re applying for.

You want to really understand who they are and whether you’re going to want to work for them — you aren’t going to get the chance to see the office or meet the team face to face and remember that interviews are a two-way street. You should be assessing them as much as they’re assessing you.

When prepping for a first interview, figure out how your skills relate to the role, what can you bring to the company, and how you can make the hiring manager’s life easier. A great way to do this is to determine if the company has similar positions and look at the current or previous employees/freelancers on LinkedIn.

Make some notes on how you compare and then the reasons why you’re the ideal person for the job. Try and identify any strengths or weaknesses you may have relating to the role — picking at strengths and weaknesses are a tried and trusted source for interview questions, so be prepared.

While you’re at it.

Jot down other key questions you think may come up on the day and rehearse the answers. Don’t just think them through, write the answers down too, and have those handy. Now, this is a significant benefit of video interviewing — you can have these crib notes on the desk in front of you to refer to, and it’s less noticeable if you take a peek throughout the interview.

You should also have a copy of your CV on the desk — try to avoid having notes you need to refer to on-screen. When you’re staring at the screen and changing pages, it can appear like your focus isn’t entirely on the interview or interviewer, which is wholly unprofessional. And, on the subject of professionalism…

Don’t just dress from the waist up.

Perhaps you do this when working remotely, or maybe you’re the type to get dressed every day. Either way, dress the part for your interview. This means to dress as though you were going in person for a meeting, that means trousers — not pajama bottoms! Not only will you feel more confident and in the ‘professional zone’, but what if, worst-case scenario, you had to get up on camera and your interviewer saw your Star Wars PJs.?

Check your tech.

Feel confident in the minutes before your interview by knowing that your video and audio software is working correctly. Check your technology a day or two before, and on the day, ensure you set yourself up in a place with enough light where you’re clearly visible and audible.

Ensure you’re relaxed and ready to go at least ten minutes before so that you’re not panicking that you’ll be late because something isn’t working. Of course, failing tech isn’t ideal but it would be an even bigger disaster if you’re interviewing for a software troubleshooting position!

Don’t forget to double-check the date and the time of the interview and ensure you have the time zone settings correctly configured, too, and check you’re in the right one.

Talk the talk!

You’re going to want to demonstrate your knowledge throughout the interview. Think about what you know about the company and relate it to your skills. This applies whether your interview is remote or not, but bear in mind that interviewing over video doesn’t offer the same personal experience. It may be harder to ‘read the room’ or get a feel for the other person — clear verbal communication is key, along with confident body language.

When you’re ‘talking the talk’, you don’t have to make it all about you. In fact, it’s a great way to build rapport with your interviewer by asking about their career and how long they’re been with the company or perhaps why they like it so much there. There’s the onus to compensate for a lack of connection which comes with a face-to-face meeting when interviewing remotely and asking someone about themselves is a great way to break the ice. Keep it professional and just remember, it always pays for the interviewer to like you.

Clear your space of distractions.

Got Kids or pets? Let’s face it, neither is conducive to a relaxed, professional, and, most importantly, successful interview.

Be organized and sort out care or just put them in another room (the pet, not the child!) and ensure you’re not going to be disturbed. Other common distractions — phones ringing, dogs barking, the boiler repairman coming round… All of these can wait until after the interview, stay focused.

Of course, sometimes distractions really can’t be helped. And the hiring manager will likely understand that, but just bear it in mind you’re giving them a glimpse of your future workspace, and if you can’t remove distractions for an hour-long interview, how productive will you be on their time?

If you struggle with staying focused and get distracted by time-wasting websites in general, check out Stay Focused by Google — the ultimate tool to reduce procrastination.

Have questions ready

Do you want to know more about the job? More about the team? What’s a typical day like? What’s their remote working setup — Slack? Email? Monthly or weekly Zoom calls? It’s always a good idea to have a question or two for the end of the interview. This shows the interviewer that you’re interested and want to learn more about your potential new employer, keep the questions positive and professional.

In summary

Treat a remote interview like a face-to-face interview. The same level of professionalism applies even if you’re not physically present with the other person — the standard rules and interview etiquette, and more, apply.

Remote work is here to stay. And what with the current global situation, it’s likely more and more jobs will become remote, or at least the interview process will be. Keep these top tips in mind for your future interviews and you’ll be ahead of the game and acing them in no time.

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Originally published at on April 1, 2021, by Joanna Blomfield



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