COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our working lives – many employees have set up office at home and are working remotely, meetings are being conducted remotely and of course interviews have gone the same way. Already stressful at the best of times, interviewees now have another factor to contend with: the dreaded camera. Possibly, the older you are, the less comfortable you might feel about this, however, the camera need not be a hurdle but rather a prop to be used to your advantage.
We think you can make it work in your favour showing, quite literally, your best angle to the interviewer in a remote interview.
Be prepared! First impressions are made with the first couple of seconds so how you present yourself is extremely important.
- Although you are not meeting in person, choose your outfit carefully. Ensure that you know what the culture of the company is and dress accordingly. Remember, even if the company encourages casual attire, it is still important to look polished and put together. Test your outfit on video and make sure there is no styling faux pas. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable and think about these things during the remote interview. Choose colours that are easy on the eye and not distracting. Even though you might be tempted to leave your pyjama pants on, don’t! It may make you feel self-conscious and what if you need to stand up for some reason?
- Record yourself answering some questions. Be aware of your body language – body language is highlighted on camera: take notice of your hand gestures, where you are looking, your tone of voice, the lighting, how far or close you are to the camera. You can do this as many times as you like and even show it to a relative or friend to get their feedback.
- Choose your background. Even if the company you are applying to has a relaxed culture, you still do not want to give your interview against a background of toys scattered around or an untidy kitchen. Is there anything that you would like your employer to subconsciously notice about you? If in doubt, go with the most neutral background possible where there is good lighting – you don’t want to be silhouetted and it is important that your interviewer can clearly see your facial expressions.
- Choose a quiet place where you are least likely to be interrupted and where you will have the least background noise. If you can, lock the door.
- The hardware: If it’s a laptop or a tablet you will be more flexible with choosing your background but be sure that it is fully charged.
- The software: confirm which platform is going to be used. Do you have it downloaded on your device? Do you have the password to join the meeting? If you’ve never used this software before, learn how to navigate it. Are the video and sound working as you would like them to? Do not leave these things to the last minute as they may take longer than you envisage and you definitely do not want to be late for your remote interview or appear looking flustered.
Now that everything is ready and checked, here are some tips on how to maximise this opportunity and get that job!
- Be ready and waiting. Log in a few minutes earlier. This will immediately show your interviewer that you are a good time-keeper, organised and enthusiastic, and get you started on the right foot.
- Look at the camera, not at yourself. This will ensure that you are looking at the interviewer and not looking down. It’s easy to forget this so you can put a sticker to remind you that that’s where you need to look.
- Give backchannel cues. Nod and smile when it’s appropriate. Showcasing soft skills is harder to do virtually and appropriate backchannel cues will show active listening. Also, do not interrupt. This might be an obvious one, but it is even worse to do so during a remote interview as two people talking at once will just cause chaos followed by awkwardness. Wait a couple of seconds before answering just to ensure that the sound is not compromised.
- Relax! Don’t be fidgety or too robotic – hard as it may sound, be as natural as possible: if you have all the things in place as mentioned in points 1-6 then it will help with point 10.
- Don’t leave the call without asking about the next steps or what the procedure is. Like this you will not be left in the dark, wondering when/whether they will call you. If you know that there are other candidates to be interviewed, or a date by when they intend taking a decision you will be less anxious and should you need to follow up you will do it at the right time with this information in hand.
- Remote interview or not, always follow up immediately with a thank you email. It needn’t be long and elaborate, but it could be the difference between getting the job or otherwise if there is a close call between two candidates.
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