I’ve tackled quite a few remote interviews in my time and they can feel pretty strange, an interview can be nerve-wracking enough without having to rely on technology. Interviews through a computer screen are the new normal for most of us, and before COVID I had only tackled one myself for the role I currently work in. It was a weird experience, our camera’s both cut out about ten minutes in and we we’re both stuck talking to a black computer screen. It’s worth mentioning that for quite a few hiring managers this is new too, and most of my interviews have opened with a conversation about how strange it is to not be meeting face to face!
My hope with this post is not to give you tips to help you land that sweet new role, as there are definitely people doing that better than I ever could, but instead I’m going to tell you how I prep for an interview with a camera instead of a human.
Test your camera and microphone
Most online video calling services like Teams, Zoom, and Skype have this option and you should definitely use it. Work out where you’re going to sit and set up your space, that way you can see exactly what your interviewer will see when the interview starts! I definitely don’t want them spotting an unmade bed, and I want the room to be well lit so the interviewer can see my face. I’ll usually pick a place with a white wall behind me, and a window in front or to the side of me, never behind!
I also take this opportunity to test the microphone on my headphones, and make sure everything is sounding good. I try to use my headphones rather than the mic on the computer to avoid any feedback or echoing, as I try not to mute myself on a one to one call too often. I usually ask if they can hear me properly as soon as I join the meeting just in case, but I always feel more comfortable if I’ve checked everything!
I try to do everything I would normally do for an in-person interview. I’ll have a confidence boosting outfit on, so no pyjama bottoms hidden underneath the desk, and I find putting make-up on relaxing, so I’ll do that too. As with an in-person interview, do what makes you look professional but still comfortable, you’ll feel more confident in the interview this way!
I always make notes before an interview, but the best part about a remote one is that you can bring them in with you! I usually make notes around the job description and then stick them up in my eye-line, and make a few more about key projects that I’ve completed that I want to make sure I mention. It’s also always useful to have a copy of your CV on-hand while in the interview, I would usually bring it to an in-person interview, so it makes sense to have it for a remote one.
Treat this like having notes for a presentation, don’t write down what you want to say just key points that you want to hit, it can be tempting to write pages but personally I find this more distracting than helpful. When making my notes I like to think of my positives and negatives, what do I do well in my current role and what do I need to up-skill to become the best person for the role that I’m interviewing for.
I always find writing down a few important questions about the role and the team helpful, my mind tends to go blank at the end of any interview so I try to have a few on hand. It’s so important to always ask questions at the end when prompted, it’s a great opportunity to show you’ve done your research when it comes to the wider industry and the company you’re applying for.
Where do I look?
One of the things that I’ve learnt and definitely works for me is to cover the little window with my face in it. Once I’m sure that my camera is on and the interviewer can see me, I cover this up with a postcard or Polaroid so I don’t look at myself while I’m talking. This may just be a “me thing” but if I do something awkward and see it on camera, I’ll inevitably cringe and feel more uncomfortable while I’m talking; covering the little window stops this and I’m free to flail wildly without having to actually see myself doing it.
I’m also a big eye contact person and it’s a struggle to get this while on a call. I’ve found it’s more comfortable to look at the interviewers face on the screen rather than attempt to look at the camera, I’d rather see a human face than the black void that is a lens, and I’ve never gotten any complaints.
One of the key things for me with remote interviews is to be honest with your interviewer and most will be accommodating. I’m currently back in Wales where my internet connection can be spotty and my dog un-apologetically loud, so I’ll usually open with something like “please do let me know if you have any issues hearing me at any point, my internet at home isn’t the best” and they’ll usually say something similar back.
I feel like this opens up to a conversation if there happens to be any issues with technology, and no matter how many times you test your tech problems can still pop up!
Remote interviews can be nerve-wracking but as long as you put the effort in and treat it as you would an in-person interview you can’t go wrong. Like with any interview research and industry knowledge will be key, and I always feel much better if I have the background knowledge to back up my answers!
Good luck with your remote interviews my friends, and I hope this post helps a little ❤
Other Excellent Interview Posts!
PubInterns – Interviews Masterpost
Ain Chiara – How to Prepare for a Digital Interview
That Publishing Blog – Interviews
Book Careers – Video Interview Success
PRH – The Digital Interview
Book Machine – 10 tips for Interviews