How To Survive Your First Online Interview

How To Survive Your First Online Interview


Yaaa ! You found a remote job and now you’re scheduled for an interview.

Congrats !

I don’t want to make you nervous, but have you ever done an interview for a remote job?  I bet it’s an online interview, right?

Probably done on FaceTime or Skype.  Maybe Google Hangouts.

I bet you use one of them all the time…talking to family and friends like they’re right there with you.  So you know all about communicating with someone this way.  But if you’ve never used a video communication tool, it’s time to get familiar with them.  At the very least, Skype.

But this post isn’t about learning how to use Skype.  Or FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, or Tango.  It’s about surviving your first online interview and hopefully getting that remote job !

I gotta tell you, though: doing an online interview is a lot different than talking to someone you know on FaceTime (or whatever other app).  All those weird feelings and queasies are there because – well – it’s still a job interview.  Back in the days of my 9-5 Human Resource Generalist job, I had the pleasure of sitting-in on some online interviews.  As someone on the “interviewer” side of the lens, I saw my share of no-no’s and needless distractions, as well as what made the interview go super smoothly.

I’m going to share the obvious – and not so obvious – online interview survival tips with you.  Let’s get to them.

 

Online Interview Tips: How to do an Online Interview
How To Do An Online Interview

There’s more to an online interview than just sitting in front of your computer, booting up Skype, and answering a few questions. I’ve been through the process a few times and even though the questions asked in an online job interview are similar to what are thrown at you in a traditional interview, it is YOUR responsibility to set the scene.

Starting with…

…Getting to know the company. Inside and out. Devour everything about the company and the job your are interviewing for.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Browse their website (this should be a no-brainer)
  • Read through their blog to get a sense of how the company operates
  • Fully understand the job you’re interviewing for
  • Know what tools the company uses, for communicating with co-workers as well as for doing your job. This can be learned by reading the job description.

Ok, now that you’re familiar with the company, it’s time to get suited-up for your interview. We’ll start this off with the 5 obvious things you should know.

 

The Obvious Online Interview Tips:

  • Be yourself. Don’t put on any false faces, just act naturally. Be confident in who you are and let your real self be represented in the interview. Why ? Because after you get the job, you’ll probably use an assortment of online tools to communicate with your boss and co-workers and they need to know who the real YOU is.
  • It’s OK to be nervous. In fact, it’s expected. The interview is probably the most important step in snagging the job, so nervousness comes with the territory.
  • Be polite, which hopefully is part of who you are. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way (you should know this by now).
  • Time is relative. The interview can last anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour, just like if you were going through a traditional interview.  The more comfortable you are, the more it’ll seem like the interview flew by.
  • More to come. You may be hired on the spot, or move on to a second stage of the interview process. It all depends on the company and job.  And don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from them for a few weeks; working remotely is a crowded world and the competition is tough.

And then there are the not-so-obvious things. Stuff you might not think of until it’s too late.

 

The Not-So-Obvious Online Interview Tips:

  • Nix the noise. Do your interview in a private setting, making sure the kids, television, and barking dogs don’t interrupt or create background noise.
  • Set the scene. Be aware of your surrounding, including any items, photos and pictures that may be visible to the one conducting the interview. Girly posters are bad. A Monet print is good. Better yet is a plain white wall.
  • You don’t have to do it in your home, but you do need to follow the two previous points.  If your friend’s home has a better environment, or better internet, do your interview there.
  • Have hard copies in hand. You may have to refer to your resume or the job description, so having them at your fingertips will make life easier for you. The interviewer has many more to do, so you don’t want to waste their time – that’s a sure fire way to NOT get the job. Also, try not to rustle your papers – it’s very distracting.
  • Power is in listening. Listen carefully to the questions asked and answer directly and appropriately. If you are having a virtual interview, notice the interviewer’s facial expressions while you listen to what is being said, this will give you a clue as to their impression of you and your skills. Don’t interrupt and don’t answer too quickly.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Even when it comes to the interview. Practice speaking so you don’t get tongue-tied or become overly chatty. Do a few practice interviews with a friend to see how you come off.  And because not all friends are comfortable giving criticism, sign up for a free mock interview that you can record, playback and critique yourself.
  • Dress the part…at least from the waist up. Put on a clean shirt, suit, whatever you have that looks respectable and business-like. Not only is it important to dress tidy, you need to look tidy. Don’t roll out of bed with sleep crap in the corner of your eyes. Make sure you don’t have lettuce in your teeth. Comb you hair and blot the shine off your face.
  • Watch your body language and eye contact. Body language and eye contact reveal the true you, and if you are uncomfortable, or have something to hide, the one conducting the virtual interview will pick up on these things through your actions. Shifty eyes will make the interviewer uncomfortable. Crossed arms shows defiance. A slight nod of your head is like a virtual handshake.
  • Watch Your Tone. It’s perfectly fine to have expressive tones in your voice, just don’t over do it. For example: if you’re offered a second interview, and you’re excited about it, don’t squeal like a little girl. And if they tell you you’re not a good fit, just accept that with a polite “thank you for your time”.
  • Hang up before you make exclamations.  You don’t want an open-mic comment cost you the job so be sure you hang up as soon as the interview is over.  Save that “what a prick…” comment for a few minutes.

OK, now that you know how to act and where to conduct your interview, you need to take some technical requirements into consideration.

Things like these:

 

The Technical Stuff:

  • How is your internet connection?  Find the place in your home where the speed is the best.  Consider going to a friend’s house if their connection is better.
  • Know the tools. Familiarize yourself with whatever interview tool you’ll be using. FaceTime, Skype, recorded interview ? Practice using them and get comfortable.
  • How is your webcam?  Is it of good quality?  Make sure to position it so the lighting is flattering but not too close to your face.
  • How is the sound ? Test the audio by speaking into the microphone.  How do you sound?  Are you speaking clearly?  Are you too loud?  Make adjustments as necessary.

Most importantly, remember to smile. Yeah, a bit kitschy but so necessary. Even if you feel the job is not right for you, a better opportunity may come up and you want to make a good impression from the get-go.

 

So, Are You Amped-Up To Get This Interview Done The Right Way ?

If you follow these survival tips there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to ace the online interview.  It’ll still be a little bit nerve-racking – especially at first – but stick with these tips and you’ll be a pro.  Well, hopefully you’ll get that dream job before you become a pro at interviewing 🙂  And when you get that job, leave a comment below to share how your interview process went.

 


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