There are tons of articles out there on how to prepare for job interviews. We’ve linked to three in literally the first five words of this post. But for some reason, when people are interviewed for a remote job, they don’t follow even the most basic rules.
Why? Because when you are in your own home, in your own environment, it’s a lot harder to switch to ‘professional’ work mode. The problem is, that making that switch is the difference between a good interview and a bad one.
To make it easier for all you prospective remote job hunters out there, we’ve put together a timeline. This timeline will help you make that switch, and be better prepared for the interview.
Now, we won’t go into what questions the interviewer might ask, or the 5 top things you must do before every interview. We are focusing specifically on people heading into remote job interviews
30 minutes before:
Prepare yourself and the interview area. That means:
1. Get dressed for the interview.
Don’t wear t-shirts and pants. Remember, a remote job interview is just like a local interview. It just happens to take place at your home. The fact that it’s over video doesn’t that people won’t be silently judging you according to the way you are dressed. Don’t wear anything that you wouldn’t wear for a job interview. And do yourself a favour, read this article on what clothing colours and patterns you should avoid.
2. Make sure that your surroundings are presentable
Make sure that you are sitting comfortably and that your background is neutral. Sitting comfortably doesn’t mean lounging on your sofa, by the way. It means sitting on a proper chair, at a desk or table. Not on your bed. Not in your kitchen. No, don’t have your laundry showing in the background. And yes, all these examples are from personal experience. If you want really great advice on how to set up your call, check out our 5 Advanced Video Conferencing Tips.
3. Use Skype’s Echo testing service
Skype is NOT my preferred means of communication. But it does have the easiest mic testing option. Just open Skype, call ‘Echo / Sound Test Service’, and you can record yourself. It automatically plays back the recording after 20 seconds. Super easy to use, and it’s the best way to hear yourself as the interviewer will. Don’t have Skype? Try one of these online microphone testers.
20 minutes before
When you go to a local job interview, you bring things with you. A laptop bag. A notebook and pen to take notes (for those of us that still use them). Your phone. Maybe even a bottle of water. Hey, answering all those questions is thirsty work. You don’t stop the interview in the middle, go back to your car, and grab your phone charger. Or at least, you really really shouldn’t.
When you go a remote job interview from the perceived safety of your home, exactly the same things apply.
Come prepared, with everything you need within reach. That means on the desk in front of you. I’ve seen too many people get up in the middle of an interview to get a glass of water, or, on one memorable occasion get, and slowly eat, an apple.
People, it’s a job interview. I know that I’ve mentioned this before. But it’s very easy to fall into the pitfall of ‘oh, this is my home, so I can behave the way I usually do’.
Have everything that you need on the table in front of you. So if you happen to need a glass of water you don’t have to get up in the middle of the interview and leave the screen.
15 minutes before:
When you go to a local job interview, you plan to arrive early (If not, then you should rethink how to prepare for interviews in general).
It takes time to find a parking space and the right office building. You also need to get to the interviewer’s office, and maybe even grab a cup of coffee on the way. And with all that, you still need to mentally make the switch from ‘driving to here’ to ‘job interview mode’.
With remote job interviews, they take place in your own home. You can pause Final Space on Netflix and start up your laptop seconds before the interview.
Don’t. Your laptop will start that vital and unstoppable Windows 10 update. Or it won’t connect to your WiFi on the first try. Or any of the daily computer shit that we all know and love will happen.
Be prepared. Just as you arrive early for a local job interview. Start your computer 15 minutes before the interview and make sure everything works. Final Space will wait.
10 minutes before
With local job interviews, it’s easier to make the switch to ‘job interview mode’. In your home, it takes longer to make that switch. It’s just so easy to get lost scrolling through Facebook or r/awww and suddenly have to ‘jump’ into the video call.
Instead, mentally prepare yourself 10 minutes before the interview starts.
- Review the company you are being interviewed for (again)
- Look at the interviewee’s social profiles
- Go through the job description and requirements
This way, when the Zoom or GoToMeeting window opens. you don’t have to drag yourself back from whatever you were doing. You are already prepared to start the job interview.
5 minutes before
Last thing, as the interview is just about to start.
Close all other (or at least, unnecessary) windows on your screen.
It’s all too easy to forget that you are on camera and that you are actually talking to a person on the other end. The less possibility of distraction that you have on your screen, the better. Also, you may be asked to share your screen to show your portfolio or code. This way, you won’t have to worry about what browser tabs are open or have ‘your friends are online’ Steam notifications pop up every two minutes.
Close all windows but the ones that are actually relevant to the job interview. Even if you don’t take away any other pieces of advice from this post, trust me on this one.
0 minutes before
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