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You know what comes after applying for a remote job ?
The online video interview.
There’s a big plus to doing an interview online and it’s this: you don’t have to travel anywhere.
But here’s the thing…
…Doing an online interview for a remote job can be tricky because neither you nor the interviewer can get that ‘sense’ of the other person. There are things you have to do and questions you need to ask to make the process go in your favor.
Today, I’m going to go over those things. I’ll cover the obvious, not-so-obvious, and never-even-considered things. I’ll also give you some example questions YOU should ask.
Let’s get to them.
The Online / Video Job Interview: What You Need To Know
There’s more to an online interview than just sitting in front of your computer, booting up Skype, and answering a few questions.
Even though the questions asked in an online job interview are similar to a traditional interview, you want to be one step ahead of the person on the other side of the webcam.
Starting with the most important thing:
Get To Know The Company
Do yourself a favor and learn everything you can about the company that is about to interview you. Get to know them inside and out. Devour everything about the company and the job you’re interviewing for.
You can do this by:
- Browsing their website; look at every page and write down any questions you have about the company.
- Reading through their blog to get a sense of how the company operates.
- Fully understanding the job you’re interviewing for and make notes of important responsibilities.
- Knowing what tools the company uses for working with their customers, for communicating with co-workers, and for doing your job (which can be learned by reading the job description).
- Google the company and read all the reviews, comments, and statistics you come across.
- Learn all you can about the industry. Who are their competitors ?
Here’s an example:
InVision had a job opening for a Customer Marketing Manager.
Take a look at the job description below. See how it says they provide design tools and resources so companies can navigate the product design process ?
Ask yourself this: What design tools do they provide ? Then look through their website to answer your questions.
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 basics.
Don’t be fake, just act naturally. Be confident in who you are and let your real self be represented in the interview.
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.
Politeness is free and, hopefully, 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.
There will be 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.
Have hard copies handy
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.
Have pen and paper ready
During the video interview, questions and concerns will come up that you might not be able to address right away. Write them down.
OK, now that we covered the basics, let’s go over some not-so-obvious things, like your environment. Stuff you might not think of until it’s too late.
Everything in this section can fall under one heading:
No distractions !
This is the #1 roadblock that’ll quickly end your online interview. When you create distractions, you’re taking the focus off YOU and your abilities. Distractions give off a bad first impression and will be what the interviewer remembers about you.
Here are some anti-distraction tips you can follow:
One of the main reasons a lot of people don’t get an online jobs is because they didn’t take the time to create a quite environment for the video interview.
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 interviewer.
Girly posters are bad. A Monet print is good. Better yet is a plain white wall.
An unmade bed, your cat crawling across your keyboard, dirty laundry in the corner…all distractions that most likely will cost you the job.
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.
You now know how to act and where to conduct your interview. let’s go over YOU.
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.
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.
Make Eye Contact
Look at the camera, not at the little picture-in-picture of your interviewer. On their end, if you look at your camera you’re making eye contact.
Position your monitor so you’re not looking down onto it. You may need to put it on a pile of books or use a monitor stand – just be sure your monitor is in line with your face.
Most importantly, remember to smile. Not in an odd, constant way, but often. 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.
Power is in listening
Listen carefully to the questions asked and answer directly and appropriately. Don’t interrupt and don’t answer too quickly.
During your online 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.
Watch your body language
Body language will 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”. Pro tip: it’s OK to ask what they feel kept you from getting the job, the answer will help you in furture interviews.
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.
Now it’s time to go over the technical requirements you need to consider.
The Technical Stuff
How is your internet connection?
Find the place in your home where your internet connection and speed is the best. In fact, you can use this free internet speed test to see how it is.
Skype recommends a download/upload speed of 300 kbps, which translates to .3072 mbps.
My internet sucks – I live in the sticks – but even I meet the recommended speed.
If your speed happens to suck, consider going to a friend’s house if their connection is better. But consider this: if your internet is so bad that you can’t do a video job interview, you won’t be able to perform the job online.
Know the tools
Familiarize yourself with whatever interview tool you’ll be using. Not just Facetime and Skype; any tool that’s mentioned in the job description AND the company’s website. Practice using these tools and get comfortable.
How is your webcam?
Is it of good quality? Make sure to position your camera so the lighting is flattering but not too close to your face.
How is the sound quality of your microphone?
Test the audio by speaking into the microphone. How do you sound? Are you speaking clearly? Are you too loud? Make adjustments as necessary.
Now let’s go over some questions you should ask.
Questions To Ask In An Online Interview
As with any job, knowing a lot about the company is important. Sometimes, though, the interviewer doesn’t cover everything so you need to know the right questions to ask.
Let’s go over them now.
Questions To Ask About The Company And Job
What does a typical day in this role look like ?
This questions shows you are interested in the job and want to know more.
How do you measure success with your employees ?
In other words, you want to know what you need to achieve for your boss to be completely satisfied with your work performance.
Even if the job description listed 8 main responsibilities, there may be only 2 or 3 that measures your success.
Are there opportunities for professional growth ?
Not wanting to grow with a company is a red flag and an interviewer will pick up on this quickly.
If you ask them if there are growth opportunities early on during the interview they’ll know they’re hiring someone who doesn’t want to become stagnant.
DON’T ask about the pay
Now, this is important. As tempting as it is to go over salary or hourly pay, don’t do it. Not yet. Save it for the job offer.
DON’T ask about time-off
Same thing with time-off. Don’t ask about their vacation or time-off policy yet. Again, save it for the job offer. But here’s a tip: read through their careers page within their website. I bet you find their time-off policy.
Questions To Ask About The Remote Environment
Knowing if you’ll thrive with a company is something not everyone thinks about.
You’re looking for a remote job for one main reason: so you can work remotely…from home or wherever. And being knowing if you’ll be able to grow, thrive, and be respected for your value can be learned from the interview.
Here are some questions you should ask about the company’s remote work culture:
Do you use video of phone for meetings ?
This may seem like a stupid question; who uses phone when they can video conference ?
But it’s not stupid to ask because some companies really do still use phone, especially small companies who are not completely remote.
How often do you “meet” ?
Asking this questions shows you’re interested in their transparency policy.
Do they meet daily ? Weekly? Monthly ?
In my opinion, less than weekly meetings for a remote company hurts transparency and divides teamwork.
How often do you meet in person ?
Most companies that are fully remote will have at least one annual gathering to get to know each other and have fun.
Companies that hire only a few online workers typically have person-to-person meetings only during the training or on-boarding process.
And some companies don’t have any in-person meetings.
If you’re a true introvert, then you’re not into meeting your co-workers in person and that’s OK. Knowing if and how often a company meets face-to-face will be a determining factor in your job search.
What collaboration tools do you use ?
Co-workers need to collaborate and when they work remotely, they need tools. I’m not talking about email, I’m talking about programs you use to ‘talk’ with your boss and co-workers.
There are hundreds of collaboration tools out there, some remote companies even use their own programs.
For example, Slack is a popular cloud-based instant messaging platform used not only by them, but also by a lot of reputable companies (and they often have remote job openings 🙂 ). You can check out the demo here.
Unless you ask, you may not know which tool is used to meet-up with co-workers. And you risk the chance of not being familiar with their tool.
Get to know a bunch of popular tools so – even if you don’t know which one they use – you can say you’re familiar with one that’s similar.
Here are some you can check out:
Time tracking / Ppoductivity tools
Document / file sharing tools
Project management tools
What percentage of employees work remotely ?
If you read through the company’s website, you may have already found the answer. If not, ask the interviewer that the percentage of remote workers they have.
If the company is not 100% remote, ask what steps they take to ensure employees are part of the team and included.
Ready To Pass Your First Online Video Interview ?
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 do fine.
And get that remote job.
And when you do get the job, leave a comment below to share how your interview process went.