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How to Navigate a Remote Interview

Not so long ago, job interviews were conducted almost exclusively in person. Hiring managers were able to assess candidates during these interviews, getting an idea about everything from the applicant’s skill set to how he or she affected the energy in the room to body language and the confidence of a handshake.

Today a growing number of interviews are virtual. Many are conducted via popular video conferencing apps like Zoom. In a recent survey of talent leaders and recruiters conducted by the tech firm Talview, 80 percent of respondents said their hiring process is now fully remote. There are many advantages to remote/virtual interviews. They tend to be more convenient for screening applicants for remote positions because the applicant pool may be coming from anywhere around the world. Remote interviews also can be less time-consuming.

As useful as they can be, remote interviews are not foolproof. Technical snarls or uncooperative conditions at home can affect remote interviews. Virtual interviews also may not give  candidates an accurate idea of the culture at a given firm. But remote interviews are likely here to stay, so here’s how candidates can put their best (virtual) foot forward.
Test the technology
Open the conferencing app and test links to make sure that you can get on the service and understand how it functions. Log in early, even if it means sitting in a virtual waiting room until the meeting organizer arrives. At least you’ll be ensured of being on time.
Have a cheat sheet at the ready
A remote interview gives candidates a distinct advantage, as they can utilize notes without it being obvious. Place them just above the device camera or off to the side slightly so you can refer to them like one may read a teleprompter or cue cards on television.
Use your space wisely
If you’ll be on video, set up your space and your appearance so that it is professional but engaging. Use your home office environment to make a strong impression. Keep background clutter to a minimum. If necessary, use a virtual office backdrop, which was preferred by 97 percent of the 513 recruiters that Harvard Business Review observed and interviewed over an eight-month period in 2020.
Engage with the interviewer and avoid distractions
Distractions can knock you off of your game and make you come across as less engaging to recruiters. Ask housemates to make themselves scarce during the interview and lock pets out of the room. Silence your phone (if it isn’t the device being used for the interview) and look into the camera while speaking. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of respect and confidence. If the interviewer is speaking at length, utilize the mute button on your phone or conferencing app to silence ambient noise.

Remote interviews are a large part of modern working environments. Mastering an ability to interview remotely can help candidates ace their next interview.