In normal times, preparing for a job interview can be a stressful process. From the planning and research to practicing and interviewing, there’s a lot that goes into it. And these are hardly normal times. Thanks to COVID-19, job interviews are now almost entirely remote, which means that, in addition to the usual interview prep, you also have a host of other details to worry about.
Luckily, we’re here to help. Let’s review interview best practices and how to prepare for and ace your next remote job interview.
Step 1: Research
Researching the company or organization you’re interviewing with has always been a crucial first step in the interview prep process. Ideally, you’ll have done some research before you even applied to the job, but in case you didn’t, now’s the time. Here’s a quick list of what information you’ll want to gather prior to your interview:
- The company’s culture, mission, and values – Review the company website and social media to get a good feel for the organization and make sure you can explain why you’re a good fit.
- Key players in the organization – Check out the “About” page, LinkedIn and read employee bios. Who holds important positions in the company? Who will you interact with in this job? Note any areas of shared interests that might help you connect during the interview.
- Skills and experience required – What does the company look for in a qualified candidate? Read career pages and review the job description so you can position yourself as the best candidate.
- Clients, products, and services – What product or service does the company offer? Who do they work with? The company website along with case studies, white papers, and blogs should tell you a lot.
- News and recent events – You should always be knowledgeable about the company’s latest announcements, but during a pandemic the situation can change quickly and staying up to date is more important than ever. How has the company responded to the pandemic? How were they impacted? Being well-informed helps you avoid any missteps in the interview itself.
Step 2: Prepare
With research out of the way, it’s time to get down to the details and make sure you are set up to present your best self during the interview. These are the three areas you’ll need to address as you prepare for your remote interview:
The majority of remote interviews are done over video, so the first item you’ll want to confirm is what platform the company is using. Next, spend some time learning the platform if you aren’t already familiar with it and test everything out. This is also a good time to test your web camera and headphones to ensure all your devices are working. You don’t want any surprises on the day of your interview.
In addition to testing your tech, you’ll want to make sure you have a good space set up for the interview. Ideally, a separate room like an office or other quiet space is best. It’s also a good idea to consider your background and what an interviewer will see on camera. Is your space poorly lit or cluttered? Consider organizing your environment ahead of time so that distractions are minimized and your background sets a professional tone.
The final area to prepare ahead of the interview is your appearance. While a suit jacket most likely isn’t necessary, you do want to look professional and put together. It might also be tempting to dress up just your top half and stick with sweatpants on the bottom, but this isn’t advised either. What if you have to stand up or move during the interview? Instead, clean up and prepare like you would for an in-person interview. You’ll feel better and convey a positive and professional attitude for your interviewer.
Step 3: Rehearse
You’ve probably heard the saying “practice makes perfect” and it’s especially true when it comes to job interviews. Even with lots of research and all the important details prepared, there’s still a chance something could go wrong. That’s why practicing your answers to questions and what you’ll ask in return is so important.
Start with a list of common questions asked during interviews, consider what points you want to convey, and then practice your answer. You’ll also want to prepare for questions about your skills and background, and the job itself. If possible, try practicing your answers on a friend or test them out on the video platform you’ll be using. That way you’ll go into the interview feeling confident and be able to answer questions without long pauses or delays.
Next, with your answers down pat, it’s time to draft a list of questions you can ask the interviewer(s) about the job, the company, and their own experience as an employee. Having a list of questions ready to go shows you’re prepared and truly interested in the opportunity. It also gives you the chance to craft some really memorable questions that go beyond the basics.
Finally, spend a little time rehearsing the emotions and tone you present on the screen. One of the challenges with remote interviews is that body language, emotions, and personality can all be toned down by technology. Practicing your interview on the screen can give you a sense of how you come across and allow you the opportunity to adjust so that you can present your true self during the interview.
Step 4: Interview
Interview day is finally here, and hopefully you’re feeling well prepared and ready to go. Here are a few last things you’ll want to have handy so you can ace your remote interview.
- A printed copy of your resume and cover letter in case you need to reference them.
- A notepad and pen for taking notes during the interview. Jot down names, key details, or questions you want to follow up on later.
- A watch to keep track of the time. Login to the interview platform early and monitor the time to make sure you don’t run long. And if you’re using your cell phone, be sure you’ve turned off the sound and muted your calls.
That’s it! By following these steps, you’ll be prepared for your next remote interview and increase your chances of landing that dream job.