With remote work on the rise and the risk posed by the pandemic, many organizations are choosing to interview candidates remotely. From employers’ perspectives, there are many advantages to doing things this way, from lower costs to broader-ranging talent acquisition.
Unfortunately, because the practice is so new, both companies and job candidates are still hammering out the social norms. For instance, should you launch straight into technical career details, or would it be better to engage in light chit-chat first? Likewise, is it okay to answer questions wearing your pajamas, or do you need to don your best work attire?
Since remote interviews are still very much a work in progress, people on both sides of the exchange are still forming their expectations. If employers could talk to you about their perspective about these kinds of interviews, here’s what they’d say:
Use The Interview To Demonstrate You Can Work From Home Effectively
Remote interviews are necessarily less formal than their regular in-person counterparts, primarily because your employer has a window into your home. They can see your choice of decor, the type of environment in which you live, and also people floating around in the background.
Thus, your task is to demonstrate that you have a place in your home where you can work effectively when it comes to the interview. In general, interviewers don’t want to see children crawling around in the background or dogs leaping up onto the keyboard. They want reassurance that you can do useful work from home without interruptions.
Demonstrating this capacity during the interview reveals emotional intelligence on your behalf. Your employer wants to show that you have the wherewithal to understand that they also want to be put at ease. Pets, children, and even mess could all get in the way of you doing productive work for them, which could put them off you as a candidate. Try to avoid interruptions and show that you’re willing and able to focus on the task at hand.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Technology isn’t perfect. Often, something, somewhere, will go wrong. The video app you’re using will glitch. Or the internet connection will go down temporarily. Or some problem in your fiber optic cable will mean that there’s an annoying communication delay between you and the interviewer like you’re calling from the moon.
If things like this happen, it is easy to feel flustered. But remember, the interviewer isn’t particularly interested in your ability to smoothly connect to them. They’ve seen technical issues many times before. What they care about is the content of your responses and the way you deal with the situation. In some cases, a bad internet connection could be a good thing because it allows you to show how relaxed and capable you are under pressure.
Don’t Rush To Fill Silences
Remote interviews are often challenging because of reduced opportunities to use body language. Usually, the interviewer can’t see what you’re doing with your arms and legs, so they won’t necessarily know whether you’ve finished making your point.
If you finish responding to a question and there’s a pregnant pause, don’t automatically try to fill it with more noise. Instead, wait for the interviewer to pick up the conversation with the next question. It might feel awkward, but remember, you’re there to demonstrate your suitability for the job role, not your skill at engaging in idle chit-chat. Give interviewers time to scan for the next question on their list.
Small Talk At The Start Of The Interview Helps
In the old days, you’d walk into an interview and engage in a little small talk before you sat down. Topics might include talking about your day, your journey, or your impressions of the company. However, in the remote interview format, you don’t get that rapport-building, so it’s essential to replace it with something else. Try to avoid rushing straight into the interview questions themselves. Instead, invest a little time getting to know your interviewer and the type of person they are. Let the natural warmth of your personality shine.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail – that’s the scout’s motto, but it can be counterproductive if you take it too far. You want to do some preparation before you go into an interview, but you don’t want to come off as inauthentic. Just regurgitating lines will sound fake and immediately put the interviewer off, even if the content of your answers is precisely what they want to hear. If possible, try to freewheel a little. Show your humanity and keep it simple.