Welcome to the mobile era. Today it’s not only common to run your own business out of your home, but also to work for someone else from the comfort of your home office; you may even apply, interview and be hired remotely. This brings up a number of questions about how to handle an online interview. How do you dress? How do you act? Do you need to prepare differently than you would for an on-site interview?
As it turns out, the remote hiring process does come with some unique caveats and requirements, albeit nothing earth-shattering. If you’re prepping for a round of video interviews by Blue Jeans network services or another video conferencing platform, just follow these easy steps and you’ll nail it every time.
Treat It Like a Normal Interview
Career Builder reminds all virtual interviewees that this is not a “dress rehearsal.” Just because an interview may be conducted digitally doesn’t change any of the rules of thumb, so keep these points in mind when preparing for your online video interview:
- Dress cleanly and professionally: while it may be tempting to attend your interview in a button-up and tie over a pair of pajama pants or boxer shorts, there’s no telling whether or not the camera is going to tip over or whether you’ll have to get up from your seat for some urgent reason. Don’t go casual on any level–depending on the video conferencing platform used for your interview, the system should be the only thing in the room labeled as Blue Jeans.
- Speak clearly: for online interviews, this means pausing before you speak in order to avoid the possibility of accidentally cutting off your prospective employer due to video or audio lag, as well as enunciating and speaking at the appropriate volume. Yelling is a common issue with video conferencing and calling, so make sure that you keep your voice at appropriate indoor levels.
- Practice your pitch in advance: you should always have an “elevator speech” prepared to answer the dreaded first interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Here is where you should be plugging your skills and competences in relation to making money. Talk about job experience, with numbers if possible.
You should also avoid commenting on the video conferencing system if possible. The interviewer doesn’t need to know if you’ve ever had an online interview before, and while you will want to notify them if you have technical difficulties, this shouldn’t be done in such a way that it deprecates the system in use. Avoid any language that could come off insulting in any way, maintaining a respectful manner of speech at all times during the course of the interview.
Clean Up Your Office
It may seem like it goes without saying, but the number of candidates interviewed with coffee mugs, scribbled notes and even trash visible on their desks is shocking. Just like you dress well for an interview–onsite or off–you should prepare the space within your camera’s view to be scrutinized just as much as yourself. If any wall hangings are visible, make sure that they’re straight and work-appropriate, as missing either of these points could outright lose you a job for which you’re a perfect fit. An unclean workplace shows a lack of preparation, disregard for details and overall lack of awareness. You would clean up to have company, you should definitely clean up if you want to join a company.
While there are matters of space for apartment owners who lack a dedicated office space, BankRate advises against attending virtual interviews from your bedroom altogether, if possible. If that happens to be where your desk and computer reside, you can avoid too much trouble by purchasing a trifold backdrop (a light neutral color will do, but avoid anything that could look like pure white to your prospective employee) and positioning your seat and camera accordingly.
Don’t Try to Multitask
The most important thing you can offer to a remote interview is focus. It’s easy to fall into a trap of multitasking during video conferences, checking your email and even skimming through social media, but when it comes to trying to land a job from a distance, you need to offer 100 percent of your attention to the interview. This may require a little footwork on your end in preparation, such as logging out of various instant messenger programs, completely closing down your web browser and turning off any other distracting programs that may be running on your computer. Make sure that you’ve turned off all notifications in your system tray and taskbar; you wouldn’t just set your cell phone to vibrate in an on-site interview, you would silence it completely. Why should your computer be any different?
Focusing on the interview and thoughtfully answering questions is one of the best way to show your interest and dedication to the position, according to Forbes, so don’t miss out on a job opportunity because of an errant notification or the beep of a Google Talk message coming through your microphone. As with any interview, your prospective employer wants to know that you’re eager to work and give this job your all–don’t disappoint them with a shoddy video interview.