How To Ace Remote Interviews And Leave An Impactful Impression
“I reject people if they are not dressed properly. I feel if you’re not serious from this step itself, especially when it’s so convenient for you to be able to take this interview from anywhere. Although we are a creative company, I still judge people on that,” explains Suditi Bhadauria,Vice President – Human Resources and Organizational Development at EKCS, a global design and marketing production company.
Interviews have never been a cakewalk. However, remote interviews don’t just demand strong interviewing skills from you but also need you to perform confidently in a virtual set-up where things are not fully in your control.
With over 15 years of experience, Suditi has helped numerous organizations navigate the challenges and opportunities in human resource management. We sat down with her to gain insights into how job seekers can be better prepared for their next remote interviews and the mistakes to steer clear of.
From forgetting to unmute ourselves before speaking to family members barging in during the interview, remote interviews can go wrong in many unimaginable ways. While some of these mistakes may be pretty insignificant, they could still cost us our dream job. According to Harvard Business Review, 72% of the candidates who failed to crack the interview process got distracted, couldn’t engage well with their interviewer, or failed to maintain natural composure during the interviews.
Then, how do we prevent such mishaps and build a better conversion rate for remote interviews?
Here is a 3 stage framework to help you understand:
- How to lead your interview preparations for the D-day
- How to execute your preparations and present yourself just how you visualized on the day of the interview
- How to make a strong after-interview impact
Before the interview
What and how you prepare for this stage decides how effectively you will navigate through the later two stages.
Get to know the organization you’re planning to get into
It is so obvious yet so overlooked by candidates. It is like telling a traveler to inquire where the train is going before onboarding. Dear candidates, we are not asking you to become a Sherlock Holmes overnight and find out every detail of the company. But, at least get to know some key information, the vision and mission of the company, and most importantly, what exactly they are expecting from you for the role you’re interviewing for.
This will not just give you a chance to pitch yourself better but will also show them that you don’t take this interview opportunity for granted and that you care. Maybe, you can use that fun marketing event you learned about while stalking their socials as an icebreaker here. All thanks to your research!
Plan better questions
Simply saying “ask questions” is too mainstream; hence we say ask better questions.
There is a reason we placed this point right below our above discussion. When you research the company, you don’t just gather information but also questions and cues that you’d want to know more about.
Suitable, relevant questions will automatically transform your interview into a conversation and put you way ahead of those interviewees who thought only the interviewer could ask questions. Note down all of the curiosity you generate while researching and make sure you raise it during the interview.
Three Ps of interviews: Pitch, PPT, Portfolio
An interview is nothing but selling yourself and the best of your skills to capture your potential employers’ interest. So when the interviewer throws the world’s most classic question at you — tell me about yourself — you grab it with both hands and answer it with the best pitch ever!
Although this pitch is about you, you can smartly connect how your strengths and goals align with their mission and how hiring you would help them take their game to the next level.
In remote interviews, you get to share your screen. You can leverage this feature to show a quick presentation that walks them through your skills, interests, projects, and past work experiences.
This step could then be followed by your portfolio. Suppose you are applying for a creative or skill-based position like graphic designer, performance marketer, or stock market trader. In that case, you must validate your experience and potential through a well-structured portfolio.
Last but not least, keep your updated resume handy.
Give that interrogative friend a chance to interview you finally
We all have friends who ask us thousands of questions. Usually, we get irritated by them, but this is a great chance for you to utilize their nature for a mock interview.
It’s important to feel the momentum of the interview before the actual interview. It gives you a reality check on how prepared you are, what areas you are still fumbling, how your hand gestures appear, and where you need to bring in more clarity. Apart from your preparation, it would help if you also examined how prepared your technology is. On that front, assess your camera quality, angle, mic, internet, and image clarity. Anything else?
The D-Day shenanigans
It turns out it’s not just your parents; recruiters also don’t want you to use your phone.
While describing one of the most common mistakes candidates make during remote interviews, Suditi says:“They’re using the phone. It’s so unprofessional. They’re roaming around somewhere from one place to another. You don’t do that. You need to have a laptop. You need to sit in one place.”
She adds that the background doesn’t need to be beautiful. “It doesn’t matter, but you have to be stable with your laptop. You need to be presentable. A lot of people don’t take this seriously.”
Prioritize having a clutter-free background and a mind that’s solely focused on the interview without engaging itself in some other activity. If you are not comfortable with your background, most video conferencing applications like Zoom, Google Meet offer blur background or background replacement with a picture or video features.
Suditi emphasizes that you need to be very patient throughout this roller coaster ride of a remote interview. One wrong move, and you would want the earth to open and swallow you up. That’s exactly when you don’t panic and instead choose to be patient.
> Is the video or the audio lagging? Wait patiently.
> Didn’t understand what the interviewer asked? Ask again.
Apart from these things, the recruiter reminds candidates to check their audio, video, headphone, and internet connection with the application they will be using for the interview. If you read the mock interview part, you know about this already.
A few more last-minute tips
- Close all the tabs on the screen so that you don’t get distracted by other notifications.
- Dress up as if you’re going for an in-person interview.
- Use a ring light if available with you. Place it behind the screen. If not available, make sure to sit in a well-lit corner of the room.
- Keep a water bottle with you next to the table.
- Inform your family members about your interview timings to avoid their guest appearance during the interview.
- Turn your phone on silent mode.
- Be punctual with the interview timings and make sure you greet them.
- If you need time to structure the answer, request for a minute and come back confidently instead of rambling about something in a nervous state of mind.
Efforts > Perfection. Always!
After the interview
This is the shortest yet the most important section you need to read before we call you remote-interview-ready.
What can you do post your interview that would significantly improve your chances of being selected?
- Write a thank you email. Leverage this communication to thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate your interest in the role, and share your thoughts about the interview as well. Similarly, you can also ask for feedback from them.
- Send a follow-up email three days after the interview. Alternatively, you can ask the interviewer for the tentative time limit for their response and connect accordingly.
- Be patient and intentional about the result of the interview.
With remote interviews, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how well you prepared and how confidently you executed those preparations. If you do ace it, then good for you! If you don’t get the job, never fear; the best fit for you is just around the corner.
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