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In 2020, remote candidate interviewing went from novelty to necessity with the adoption of social distancing measures. This pivot has required both hiring managers and applicants to adapt to new processes and consider fresh ways to attain the desired outcome from interviews.
Whether you are actively seeking new roles or just want to make sure you are prepared when the time comes, now is the perfect time to hone your virtual interview skills. In this article we will walk you through the major success factors for remote interviewing, and how to grasp the opportunities this format affords candidates.
The first thing to consider and co-ordinate is your location during the interview. Although easy to overlook, this will certainly influence the impression you leave upon the interviewer. Ideally, you will conduct the interview against a plain, well-lit background in a quiet and private location to avoid distractions. It is also advisable to use a computer rather than a mobile phone or tablet; this will create a more stable video feed and enable you to use your hands to gesture or reach for physical prompts and aids.
Ensure that the device you are using is set up to be able to use the interviewer’s platform of choice, whether this be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another video conferencing software. If possible, download and test-run the appropriate app to facilitate a faster, more seamless experience.
A strong Wi-Fi connection is also essential. While the interviewer will not necessarily blame you for a poor connection, it may contribute to an impression of unpreparedness. Moreover, successful interviews, especially at the later stages, are often defined by explorative discussion and rapport between candidate and interviewer, both of which will be hindered by delays and drop-outs.
Finally, be sure to pay close attention to your own presentation during the interview. Do not assume that the virtual format licenses you to ‘dress down’, or in any way to compromise on the professional appearance which would be expected in an in-person interview.
A virtual format does not change the biggest success factor for a job interview: preparation. Read and re-read your CV, identifying both elements that present your professional experience favourably, and those that may benefit from explanation, such as employment gaps. You should then carefully assess the job description and the company, developing a solid grasp of the role’s responsibilities and its importance to the company’s broader structure and mission.
You can then connect the dots: ask yourself when you have successfully worked on comparable projects, and how you would bring that experience to the role for which you are applying. Likewise, be honest with yourself and note divergences between the role’s requirements and your own competencies and experiences. Prepare an argument for why your experiences enable you to hit the ground running.
Remote interviewing also creates potential advantages. For example, the candidate enjoys enhanced access to prompts and resources and can use them during the interview without disrupting its flow by rifling through papers, or a bag. Prior to the interview, make sure you are able to access digital copies of your CV, the job description, the company website, and any other helpful resources.
Finally, a candidate can stand out simply by showing confidence and self-assurance. The importance of these traits is not diminished, but enhanced by the virtual format. Body language may in some ways be less apparent, but clear speech and good articulation are more important than ever. The delays which often features in video calls, for example, mean that candidates who take their time to express their thoughts meaningfully, are less likely to accidentally talk over the interviewer.
In-person interviewing will likely resume in future, but remote interviewing is here to stay, so prospective candidates should take steps now to adapt their interview style.