6 Tips for Nailing Your Remote Job Interview

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Interviewing for a new job and finding your right fit is tough enough, not to mention the added stress of interviewing during the COVID-19 pandemic. As stated on our Careers Page, our process is pretty consolidated and we move quickly (you have to when you’re a growing tech company). Usually, one of our last stages is an onsite interview- an important opportunity for us to learn about our candidates, have them meet team members, answer their questions, and show them the space in which they’d be working. 

As recruiters, we’re used to fast-paced changes, and so when we were given our work from home order in March, we knew we needed to adapt that same level of service to a remote interview process. In this article, we’ll cover how we’ve adjusted our process, our best tips for interviewing remotely, and success stories we’ve already seen in the last couple of months. 

How We Adjusted Our Remote Interviewing Process

We realized quickly that we needed to adjust our high-touch interviewing to scale remotely. Some of the things we were already doing as a team were going to be extra important virtually, such as preparing candidates for interviews by asking the hiring manager what they’ll be focusing on, sharing team LinkedIn profiles, and setting expectations up front. However, preparing our team has been important as well to ensure a good experience all around. 

We created an internal document for our recruiters that details every step of a candidate moving through our process remotely. The main differences include: 

  1. Transparency Early On 
    • Informing a candidate early in the process that if they advance to end stages, the interview will happen virtually. 
  2. Keep It Simple 
    • Using one scheduling video call link throughout the process, along with coaching around our virtual conferencing tool if they are not already familiar with it. In the confirmation email, we point out that there is only one Zoom link needed throughout the interview. 
  3. Breaks Are Important 
    • Building in bio breaks into the interview plan, because Zoom fatigue is real. 
  4. Updates Are Key 
    • Along with standard interview training, coaching the hiring team on alerting other interviewers when they’ve ended or are running late. This ensures that a candidate is not sitting in an empty Zoom room and we’re mindful of their scheduled time.
  5. A Friendly Face 
    • A greeting from the recruiter five minutes before the interview is set to start, where the candidate and recruiter join on call to answer any last-minute questions. We also add the interview schedule in the Zoom chat. 

Remote Interview Tips

Below are the tips we’ve found helpful to provide to candidates before they enter later stages of our interview process: 

1 – Ask Questions, Be Curious

  • Prepare answers ahead of time so that you confidently articulate your qualifications.
  • Additionally, researching the company before an interview is always a great way to show interest. Some ways to do this include exploring the website, reading recent blogs, and getting an overall idea of the culture and market position of the company.

2 – Set Expectations

  • Ask your recruiter about the interview process and expectations, setting yourself up for success. 
  • Get a good idea of the process 
    • Examples of questions to ask include: How many people will you be meeting with? How long will each interview be? Is there a built-in bio-break? (Don’t hesitate to ask for one).
    • Best practice: Make sure you turn off your video/audio when you step away from your computer.
    • Mute if solving problems or if there is noise in the background.

3 – Test Your Setup

  • Lighting is important (avoid distractions when possible).
  • Ask family or friends to go through a dry run with you.
  • Double-check your internet connection is stable.
  • Be ready at least 5-10 minutes in advance (don’t rush yourself).

4 – Active Listening

  • Look into the camera every so often to replicate eye contact.
  • Wait a few additional seconds for a response. This can also help with lag-time or delays in the signal.

5 – Be Articulate and Animated

  • Video interviews can be awkward, so take the time to think through a question and answer clearly and concisely.
  • Show enthusiasm and smile! A neutral expression can look negative over video. 

6 – Troubleshooting

  • If things go wrong, keep calm.
  • Look for alternative contact information so you can get back in touch with your interviewer or recruiter. 

Real Examples

One of the first teams to shape our remote interviewing practice was our Sales Engineering team. This is an important and high visibility role for us, as the role has a critical balance of elevated soft skills and the ability to hit the ground running, technically. Usually, the end stage is 3-4 hours on-site in one of our locations, with an in-person presentation included. Because of the shift to virtual interviewing, we needed to brainstorm ways to observe candidates’ soft skills and technical foundation. We ended up landing on the idea of giving the candidate an opportunity to be more involved in shaping their virtual process. Do they pick one 4-hour interview or two separate 2-hour interviews? 

Our candidates overwhelmingly chose the 2 segmented times where they were able to meet all the individuals on the team first, and then work on the sales presentation to hone in on their soft skills further. Many studies show that any interview longer than 3 hours risks turning into a negative experience for a candidate. 

Our Director of Sales Engineering says that since everything is virtual right now, it is important to see if a candidate can conduct themselves on such remote channels. A tip he gave is that during the presentation, something as seemingly simple as using two monitors can go a long way to make sure you can keep one eye on the presentation and one on the audience, therefore demonstrating good command of the presentation. He rounded out his advice by saying, “If you come into an interview, be prepared. Dress professionally, have appropriate lighting, be prepared to talk about why you want the job, and have questions lined up.”

While interviewing in person might be more optimal in some situations, being able to master the art of a successful video call is important in both interviewing and the new day to day work life. It is important as a candidate to be adjusted to the new normal of remote interviewing, and it is equally important that recruiting teams ensure both candidates and hiring teams have the best experience possible. 

*co-authored by Briana Friden and Kimi Mashoon