We’ve provided a fair amount of advice in an article titled “The Mistakes You’re Making in Job Interviews,” and all of that still applies to remote interviewing. However, there are additional things to consider when you’re teleconferencing rather than showing up in person, so we want to provide some additional tips for virtual interviews.
Make sure you have the same app as your interviewer
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning here: When you set up your interview, make sure you know which app the interviewer will be using (Skype, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) so you can have it installed and ready to go.
It would be incredibly embarrassing to be waiting around on Skype only to have your interviewer never show up, then you receive a confused follow-up email saying they’d been waiting on you on Zoom. This could even cost you the job, since it demonstrates that you’re not good at following directions.
Be prepared to use the correct app.
Test your gear a few days before the interview
Never assume everything will just work fine, and don’t wait until the interview to figure out if your setup is working. Technical issues during your interview will make you seem unprepared and unprofessional, and that’s a first impression you don’t want to leave on an interviewer.
Make sure everything works so you can fix any potential problems in advance. Our advice is to do this a few days before the interview. Some apps can take 20 minutes or so to set up, and many of them require you to create an account. On top of that, you might realize that you need to buy new gear – perhaps you want to pick up a new webcam or microphone. Maybe you need to make a customer service call to get to the bottom of a strange error, which can take a lot of time during peak hours.
Set up a call with someone you trust beforehand as well, and have them record the call. That way, you can see if there are any video or audio issues that need to be addressed. Providing you followed our advice and are doing all this a few days in advance, you should have plenty of time to work out any issues you find.
Interview at home if possible
If your interview is remote, you have the option to set up your laptop or smartphone at a coffee shop or a bar, or even while sitting in your car in traffic. However, taking advantage of this would be a terrible idea that could prevent you from getting hired.
When you’re in public, you have no control over what’s happening in the background. You might set up in a coffee shop only to have a group of children making faces at your camera, or a group of people talking too loudly for your own voice to be audible. Being in your car is even worse, because it’s dangerous and it sends a message to your interviewer that you are reckless. Hiring you could be a liability.
Set up your interviewing gear in a place where you have control over your surroundings to make sure you’re putting your best digital foot forward.
Minimize potential distractions
This is a follow-up to the previous point. At home, you should have some measure of control over your backdrop, as well as background noise. Use that control to your advantage to get rid of any possible distractions. If you have small children, it’s a good idea to get a babysitter who can take them out of the house for a while, perhaps to a movie or a playground. If you have roommates, make it clear that this interview is important and that they need to be quiet and respectful during it.
You need to be focused during your interview, and so does your interviewer. Loud noises in the background can be distracting to both of you, so do whatever you can to make sure that won’t be an issue.
Declutter your backdrop
We probably don’t need to remind you that your interviewer can see you. It’s also likely they can see a portion of the space you’re interviewing from. Make sure that space is tidy. Don’t leave a basket of unwashed laundry in view or have empty food containers sitting on your desk where they can be seen. You want to show your interviewer that you’re organized and professional, and keeping a tidy space is one way to show them that.
If you do all the appropriate testing (which we mentioned earlier), you should be able to see which portion of your room would be visible to your interviewer. This is a great place to start your decluttering mission, but keep in mind that your setup might move a little bit between now and the interview. Perhaps you move your laptop or bump your camera, and the field of view suddenly shifts. Be prepared for this by cleaning your space beyond what the camera is picking up.
While interviewing from the comfort of your home, dressing comfortably is a huge temptation. However, this is still a job interview and it should be treated as such. Dress like you would for any other job interview.
To most people, this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many stories we hear about people teleconferencing into job interviews in their pajamas or – even worse – their underwear. No, really. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a video interview is casual; this is still a professional meetup. Don’t lose an opportunity because you failed to dress to impress.
If you have a remote job interview coming up, we wish you the best of luck and we sincerely hope our advice sets you on the path to success. If you don’t yet have an interview lined up but are currently looking for work, check out our job board to see what openings we have available. It’s quite possible your next career move is just a few clicks away.