Two men are talking to each other through video chat.
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4 key steps for successful remote interviews

23 Mar 2020

If you’re looking for a new job at the moment, James Milligan of Hays gives some tips on remote interviews.

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Having an interview either over the phone or via video is commonplace in the current world of work, and today’s candidates should expect to encounter an interview of this kind at some point in their careers. Employers are still looking to fill skills gaps and will be utilising technology to hunt for new talent.

Despite the uptake in remote interviewing, many jobseekers won’t have had experience of this type of application process before. My advice is that preparation is key, so try the steps below to make sure you can put your best self forward when interviewing remotely.

1. Nail your setup

Your first piece of preparation should be to ensure you’re set up properly. If you are preparing for a video interview, the most important consideration should be your lighting. Avoid any harsh lighting behind you, as this will turn you into a shadowy silhouette.

Instead, try to have some natural light in front of your face. Don’t forget to also think about your background and ensure that there won’t be anything which will distract the interviewer.

With any type of remote interview, it’s crucial that you won’t be interrupted. You should find a place where you won’t be interrupted by family, housemates or pets, and where you can close the door to shut out any external noise.

You want to be able to sit comfortably knowing that you can dedicate your full attention to the interviewer either over the phone or via webcam.

2. Try a test run

Don’t leave it until the moment you dial into the interview to test your connection or make sure your set-up is suitable. It’s really important to do a test run well before this so you can iron out any issues in good time.

Ask a family or friend to call you on the same channel that your interviewer will so you know that your camera, microphone or phone connection all works properly. It’s also a great opportunity for more general interview practice, so try going through some potential questions and answers with a few different mock interviewers.

You could also record or film yourself talking in an interview scenario. It’ll show you how you come across in terms of your intonation and body language, as well as allow you to check your sound and lighting quality.

Click here to visit the Hays website.

3. Draft your notes

As you would with a physical interview, prepare some answers to possible interview questions and have these printed off in front of you. Try to keep them brief rather than fully scripted, so you are able to speak freely and naturally in the interview.

If you are interviewing over video, you need to maintain eye contact with your interviewer, so sit your notes somewhere where they are visible but not right in front of you.

You may need to refer to your CV during an interview too, so it’s helpful to have this printed off and accessible.

4. At the interview

Having done all the preparation above, the normal rules apply once the interview rolls around. Have everything in place at least 10 minutes before the interview starts, just like you would get in early if interviewing physically. Even though you’re remote, it’s just as unprofessional to keep an interviewer waiting!

You’ll also need to dress accordingly. It sounds silly, but do get fully dressed – not only is it professional, it also puts you in the right frame of mind to have a formal conversation.

When your interview begins, stay engaged even though you may feel distant from your interviewer at first. Keep your intonation and body language positive and engaging as if you were in the interview room physically.

Lastly, keep calm if things go wrong. Sometimes technology is not on our side and you can encounter problems in a remote interview. It can happen at any time to anyone, even if you have done all the testing you can. If this happens, keep calm and have your alternate contact details on hand (a different phone number or email address) if you need to continue on a different channel.

Remote interviews will inevitably be used more in our changing world of work, so try to be as prepared as you can by following the steps above to ensure you are as confident as you would be in any other interview scenario.

By James Milligan

James Milligan is Hays’ director for technology and project solutions in the UK, Ireland and EMEA.

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