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20 Tips for Acing Your Remote Job Interview


businessman wearing glasses and headset having virtual team meeting on his laptop
Ground Picture / Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

You built a solid resume and wrote a meaningful cover letter, and now you’ve got an interview for a remote position.

Remote job interviews are similar to in-person interviews in that the company wants to figure out if you’re the right candidate for them. And of course, you want to determine if the company is right for you.

However, they aren’t exactly the same. Because it’s an interview for a remote position, your interview will be remote too. That means there are some nuances you wouldn’t encounter in an in-person interview.

As you launch your remote job search, familiarize yourself with some best practices for remote interviews.

While some things are common to all interview preparation, like preparing for common interview questions and strategizing how to introduce yourself, preparing for a remote job interview adds a few unique considerations, from remote work-specific interview questions for remote workers to how the interview is conducted.

Before the Interview

Worker at his desk
denis kalinichenko / Shutterstock.com

Like an on-site interview, you must prepare for your remote interview in advance. Unlike an on-site interview, you don’t need to figure out the best route to drive there and where you’re going to park.

But you do need to prepare your interview space. Use these remote interview tips to get ready for your upcoming interviews.

1. Choose Your Spot Wisely

Young woman sits and works in an ergonomic chair
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s a phone interview or a video interview, make sure you interview for remote jobs in a quiet, distraction-free space.

The last thing you want is the sound of children fighting or a neighbor’s lawnmower in the background.

If you’re positive your interview won’t include video, all you need is a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. But if it will be a video interview, you should take a few more steps to prepare your space.

And even if it’s a phone-only meeting, settling on a quiet space ensures you create a more professional atmosphere — and impression.

2. Set Up Your Office

Home office space
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

If you don’t already have one, create a home office space. It’s important to present yourself as the true professional that you are.

Having an area in your home dedicated to work will create the impression that you’ll be serious about your job and that you’re someone who won’t be easily distracted by random temptations like watching TV.

Your home office doesn’t have to be a separate room with doors. Your home office can be a quiet corner of your living room or even a converted closet.

Any place that lets you work distraction-free and separate work from home life can serve as your home office.

3. Give It a Once-Over

Comfortable workplace with laptop in office
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Look over your office with the most critical eye you can. Are you a clutter bug? Hide it under the desk or in another room if you have to.

Even if a randomly stacked pile of paper is your preferred filing method, don’t show it off during the interview. It looks sloppy and unprofessional.

Then, check out your background. Sit in your chair and turn around. Is it neat and clean? The dust won’t show up, but the empty soda cans and dirty dishes will.

Pet pictures are fine, and kid pictures are OK too, but is there anything that someone might find objectionable? If you aren’t sure, take it down.

And while you’re checking out your background, look over your faraway background too.

For example, if your office opens up behind you to your living room, check out anything in the frame that will be in the interviewer’s line of sight. Is it a mess, with piles of laundry or toys everywhere? That may be your reality, but hide it during the interview.

4. Use a High-Quality Webcam and Microphone

Woman on a laptop for a video call
voronaman / Shutterstock.com

Your volume has little to do with your qualifications for the job, but having a low-quality mic or webcam during a remote job interview could hurt your chances of landing the job. Just imagine how it would feel to interview a candidate you could barely hear for the entire interview.

Similarly, a lousy webcam gives the impression that you don’t have up-to-date equipment. Interviewers want to see and hear you clearly and easily. If you have shoddy equipment, employers may worry that they’ll have to deal with these poor conditions on an ongoing basis if they hire you.

Do a test run with your webcam and make sure you’re well-lit. The advantage of a video interview over a phone interview is that you and the interviewer can see each other. That makes it easier to interpret body language.

However, you might lose that advantage if your face is poorly lit or too bright.

Set up your camera phone at the same time of day the interview is scheduled for. Take a picture to analyze if windows are casting your face in shadows or giving you an awkward halo. It’s easier to adjust ahead of time.

5. Test Your Equipment

Happy senior man working on his laptop and phone at a remote job.
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

Before the interview, find out what meeting program the company uses and test it out. Make sure it works with your equipment. And if it doesn’t, make the necessary changes or adjustments.

Conduct a test run with your webcam or phone. You never know how “loud” a shirt might sound to a microphone — ditto with that squeaky chair you love.

While not a massive deal during an in-person interview or even a phone interview, noise on your end can create problems during a video interview.

If your chair squeaks every time you move, there’s a chance the interviewer’s mic will cut out, and you’ll never hear what the other person is saying.

6. Look at the Right Place

Older woman works from home on her laptop
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

While you’re testing your equipment, test your positioning too. If you have an external webcam, experiment with placement to get the best angle. Usually, that’s at the top center of your screen.

If you’re using a laptop with a built-in webcam, you don’t have a choice where the webcam is. However, if you keep your laptop on your desk, you may look down, which isn’t the best look.

You may need to prop your laptop on some books or invest in a laptop stand to get better ergonomics and move the webcam to eye level.

7. Dress the Part

remote worker home office
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

The proper attire can put you in the correct frame of mind and encourage a positive first impression. So, even if you know it’s a phone interview and the other person will never see you, dress up anyway.

You never know when someone might want to switch to video. And if nothing else, getting dressed will put you in an interview mindset.

Be mindful that you don’t give in to the urge to only dress from the waist up. You never know when you might need to stand up unexpectedly, and your Star Wars pajama pants might not seem like such a good choice at that point.

Also, try to select a top that doesn’t have a busy print, as the camera built into your computer can struggle to render those correctly, causing a distracting blur and pixelation on the other side.

8. Take Care of the Little Things

Happy remote worker
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Things can go wrong in an interview. Do your best to anticipate and eliminate those problems before they occur.

For a remote interview, this includes closing all unnecessary software on the computer, turning off notifications, turning off your phone calls and texts, and ensuring pets and children will not interrupt your conversation.

If you’re using a battery-powered device, make sure it’s charged before your meeting.

Or, better yet, interview while it’s plugged into a power source. If that’s not an option, ensure you have backup batteries in case the interview goes long.

During the Interview

Young woman in an online meeting
Pormezz / Shutterstock.com

It’s expected to be nervous before any interview, and a remote job interview is no exception. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get butterflies.

Take a few minutes in the time leading up to your interview to prepare.

1. Be Ready

A woman sits a table and works at her laptop
Alina Troeva / Shutterstock.com

At least 10 minutes before the scheduled interview, ensure everything is in place — including you!

Being out of breath because you ran to get the phone doesn’t exactly show the person on the other end that their call is the most important thing going on during your morning.

If you’re interviewing online, enter the meeting a few minutes early. You can check your equipment one last time, and being early shows that you’re punctual and ready to go.

It also gives you a few minutes to do some deep breathing or other relaxation techniques if you need it.

2. Look Into Their Eyes

remote worker virtual meeting
insta_photos / Shutterstock.com

A remote job interview with video is a bit tricky, but you can blame human nature. It’s natural to want to look at everything that’s happening on-screen. It’s just what we humans do.

But it’s not a great look in an interview. You might come across as distracted.

Make a paper arrow or sticky note near your webcam to stay focused. The point is to have a visual reminder to look at the webcam. Write a note or draw a pair of eyes if that helps.

If having a sticky note by the webcam doesn’t work for you, consider using the sticky notes to cover the small screen that shows you. At the very least, you won’t be tempted to look at yourself and not the interviewer.

3. Mind Your Body Language

Woman gives thumbs up at laptop
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

The other tricky thing about video interviews is that the person on the other end can see you. That means they can see your body language.

Imagine being at an in-person interview, slumping in your chair, or sitting with your arms crossed. Not a great look, right? It’s not a pleasant look on video either.

Sit up straight and maintain an open posture to make a good impression. Keep your hands relaxed and avoid crossing your arms. Lean slightly toward the screen to show that you’re engaged and invested in the conversation.

Additionally, try to minimize distracting movements, such as fidgeting or playing with objects on your desk. Fidgety actions can make you appear nervous, lacking in confidence, or disinterested.

Instead, practice sitting still and keeping your focus on the interviewer. Finally, practice active listening to prevent your mind from wandering.

4. Have Your Resume Ready

checking tax return status online
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Even though you’ve got your computer handy, you should still print a hard copy of your resume. Having your eyes dart back and forth between multiple screens could make it look like your attention isn’t totally on the interviewer.

Sure, you can explain that your resume is on the other screen, but who’s to say that you don’t have a cat video running?

You’ll be clicking between tabs on a single-screen setup, which could be a bad look.

And what if there are technical difficulties? Or your resume is in the cloud, and you’re having trouble connecting? A paper backup will come in handy.

5. Take Notes

Woman working on her finances
Lopolo / Shutterstock.com

Taking notes is an excellent way to show that you’re engaged, listening, and care about what the interviewer is saying. Not to mention, taking notes can help you stay organized during an interview.

However, there’s always a risk that it may make you look distracted by other things on your screen or in your office.

To effectively take notes, have the job description printed out so you can stay focused. Highlight anything that the hiring manager mentions.

Keep your notes short, just a few words to help jog your memory, rather than trying to capture the conversation verbatim. That way, you can stay engaged in the discussion but still have a refresher for your follow-up.

6. Keep Your Questions Close

Older woman working
Vadym Pastukh / Shutterstock.com

Be sure to keep any questions you have nearby during the interview. That way, if a question comes up, you can quickly reference it and optimize your interview time.

You also want to avoid being caught off guard if the interviewer asks if you have any questions and you’ve forgotten what they were.

List your questions in order of importance so you won’t get thrown off if your question was answered earlier in the interview.

Instead, you can jump to the next one, limiting your questions to the most vital ones you need answers to.

7. Stay Present

Happy guy at his computer
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

While it can be tempting to multitask during a virtual interview, staying present and avoiding distractions is essential. Close any tabs you don’t need for the interview and silence your phone, or put it away so you’re not tempted to check it.

Shut your door and ensure someone else can watch your kids.

Put animals in an area that won’t distract you. You think your cat walking in front of the camera is adorable, but the manager might feel it’s unprofessional for an interview setting.

Avoid eating or drinking during the interview (unless it’s water), as it can be distracting and noisy.

You want to come across as professional and focused.

Remember, this is your chance to make a good impression and show that you’re fully committed to the job opportunity. Stay engaged in the conversation and maintain eye contact with your interviewer.

After the Interview

Freelancer sitting at a computer
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

You made it. The interview is over. It’s time to wrap it up and move on to the next steps.

1. Take a Deep Breath

Man happily using laptop
stockfour / Shutterstock.com

Once the interview is over, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for getting through it. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, even if they’re virtual interviews, and even more so if you’re an introvert.

So, give yourself credit for putting yourself out there.

2. Collect Your Thoughts

Woman working from home on computer and phone
GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

While the details are fresh, collect your thoughts and reflect on the interview. Jot down any key points or additional questions that may have come up during the conversation.

Note any personal connection you made with the interviewer so you can mention it during your follow-up.

3. Prepare a Thoughtful Thank-You

Woman working on her computer
metamorworks / Shutterstock.com

After an interview, sending a thank-you note is vital to your job search success. The thank-you note lets you express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and reiterate your interest in the position.

Make sure to personalize it and mention any specific details from the interview. Ideally, you’ll send the follow-up the same day, but at the very latest, send it within 24 hours.

4. Follow Up

Happy woman working remotely
Lyubov Levitskaya / Shutterstock.com

The last step in the interview process comes a week after you log off.

Ensure you set a reminder to follow up with the hiring manager. You can inquire about your application status and express your continued interest in the position.

Keep your message positive and short. Even if you don’t get the job, following up a week after your interview can make a positive impression on the hiring manager.

5. Keep Your Options Open

woman at laptop
Amnaj Khetsamtip / Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to feel like you’re near the end of your job search when you have an excellent interview. But don’t let a great interview derail your momentum. While you wait to hear back from the company, continue exploring other jobs.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Many different things can prevent you from getting selected to move forward, from a more qualified candidate to the company’s job opening getting put on hold. You risk losing several weeks, if not more, of valuable job search time.

If you get an offer from a different company, you might reach out to the hiring manager.

Let them know this role is your first choice, but you have an offer elsewhere. There’s a chance that will inspire them to move forward if you’re an excellent fit for the role.

What If There Are Technical Difficulties?

Businesswoman using a laptop
mimagephotography / Shutterstock.com

Hopefully, you won’t encounter technical glitches during your remote job interview, but you never know when the power will go out or the internet connection will get spotty.

Because it will eventually happen if you work remotely, demonstrating to a company how you deal with technical hiccups during an interview can be a great way to show that you’re a proactive problem-solver.

Go into the interview with a backup plan (such as a cell phone) in case something goes wrong. Write down the login information and the hiring manager’s email so you can contact them if your computer is out.

Make sure you’re proactive and communicate efficiently and clearly with the company, and you can still ace the interview.

Top Tips to Stand Out During a Remote Job Interview

Happy remote worker talking on the phone while working on laptop
David Benito / Shutterstock.com

You’ve exchanged pleasantries, and maybe you’ve even gotten past “Tell me about yourself.” But proving you’re the right person for a remote job requires specialized prep work.

1. Show That You Understand the Company and Position

Man on the phone looks at his computer
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

The relationship between an employer and a remote employee is rooted in trust and understanding.

Employers want to know that you’re someone who truly gets the company, from what the firm’s overarching goals are to the reasons why they’re remote — and how it works.

By learning as much as you can beforehand, you can present yourself as someone who truly understands what the position entails and what’s expected of you.

Your research helps you build trust and shows that you will be an independent and reliable employee who can be counted on in a remote role.

Look through the company products, competitors, and mission statements.

What nonprofits or causes do they support on a global level? Where would you fit into the structure of the organization if you landed the job? Set a time limit so you can research efficiently while still maintaining your job search productivity.

2. Market Yourself as the Most Accessible and Responsive Candidate

Woman checking her credit score
Daniel M Ernst / Shutterstock.com

As a candidate, the key is to market yourself as someone who understands that dependability and reliability are must-have characteristics. During business hours, show you’re available via collaboration tools or phone.

Highlight instances when you made yourself accessible and responsive to coworkers, bosses, and clients.

Give concrete examples of what you did using the STAR Method, what technology you used, and how you solved the problem.

3. Show That You’re Self-Motivated

Woman investing at computer
TheVisualsYouNeed / Shutterstock.com

If you aren’t motivated or inspired by what you do, it’s human nature to slack off. With that in mind, you must show employers that you know how to stay engaged with your job.

Give examples of some of the things you’ve accomplished that didn’t require anyone else’s support or supervision, and be sure to emphasize them on your resume as well.

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