How to perfect the 'Remote Interview' process

How to perfect the 'Remote Interview' process

Optimus Search | 25th March 2020


As companies start to embrace the reality of the current global health crisis, most are beginning to understand that telephone and video interviews will now growingly make up part of any hiring process for the foreseeable future. To continue operating and scaling, remote workers will now become increasingly essential over the coming weeks and months, where traditionally they may have been overlooked because they wouldn’t be working ‘face-to-face’.

Traditionally, telephone/video interviews have often felt clunky and impersonal, but if job seekers prepare properly, this growingly important part of the process will become crucial in the coming months to create a good first impression and build that all-important initial rapport, normally built face-to-face. 

Here are some of our top tips for delivering the perfect remote interview.

The work starts before your telephone/video interview:

Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview
OK, so perhaps what you wear on the day or forward-planning your journey won’t be such important factors, but no-one the less it is just as important to make sure that you prepare  for your telephone or video interview, just as you would (if not better) than for a face-to-face one:

  • Get some clarity from your recruiter on how long the interview is likely to take, always making sure to clear your diary for at least 45 minutes either side so that you aren’t pushed or challenged for time
  • Research is still key: Make sure that you have done the appropriate research on the company and the hiring manager before your interview. 
  • Make sure that you have read the job specification thoroughly, and have identified what you can bring to the table in terms of experience, skills and most importantly for any remote work ‘autonomy’ 
  • As you would for a face-to-face interview, make sure that you have prepared some questions to ask the interviewer at the end, specifically around the remote aspects of the position, if this is being offered.  

Whatever you do, do not treat the telephone/video interview like an “informal chat”, as currently there is just as much importance on this phase than any other. Historically telephone interviews have been a feeling out process, but in the current climate, these interviews are just as important as the physical meets. If you fail to prepare, expect to struggle to make the next stage – or get an offer.

Communication remains key:

Fine-tuning your verbal and no-verbal communication skills is key before your interview. Just because you aren’t physically in front of the interviewer, that doesn’t mean that tone, body language and overall communication become less important. Whilst body language is not so important over the phone (but still more important than you would initially think) body language can still a critical indicator via video interview, as the interviewer can still see your expressions. Even if you are just interviewing via the phone, your posture often dictates your mood, and as the interviewer only has your voice to focus on, any bad habits are likely to be more pronounced.

Interview Day:

Wake up & Warm up

If your phone or video interview is being conducted first thing in the morning, make sure that you have given yourself time to wake up properly and ideally make a call before. This will give you the time to stimulate the mind (and vocal cords) so that you don’t sound like you’ve just woken up.

Positivity Starts With You

Get yourself into a positive frame of mind by reminding yourself of all of your career achievements to date, and ensure that these are clearly detailed so that you can fire these across.  Also, try and visualise a positive outcome, the obvious one being getting offered the job as this will focus your mind on the end goal and motivate you you to give the very best performance you can during the phone/video call.

Fail To Prepare – Prepare To Fail

If you are looking to interview remotely, then you must cover off some basic checks before the day. Ensure that you have strong Wifi/Mobile/Data signal, a full battery on whatever device you are using, as well as the hiring managers name and number saved to your phone.

Simple as it sounds, always make sure that you are clear on who will be calling you and a clear confirmation of the time of your interview. Try and be ready at least 15 minutes before the call and always ensure that you are in a quiet space with the ability to talk freely. If you taking the call in work hours, try and step out of the office to guarantee you some privacy, and if you are at home, obviously switch off any background noise such as TV, music or radio, informing anyone else in the house know that you can’t be interrupted for the next hour. Remember to also turn off your personal phone to avoid the chances of this ringing.

During the telephone/video interview:

Answer the phone in a professional manner
If you are taking the call on your personal mobile, remember to still answer the phone as you would at work, Try and pick it within three rings, answering in a professional and polite manner and maintaining this professional tone of voice throughout the call.

Make sure you are armed with all the information you’ll need
Always keep your CV at hand – specifically the one that you send over when you applied. If you have multiple CV’s make sure that you have the relevant one at hand. As discussed previously, try and list your key skills and achievements in bullet point format, plus any researched information that you have about the company in front of you. You should not read these notes, but use them as cues to drive the conversation.

Body language is still important
Even if you are having a telephone interview instead of a video interview, body language is still very, very important and often frames how you come across. Even if your interviewer can’t physically see you, your body language can make all the difference to how you sound and come across. Try and sit up straight throughout, because when answering the interviewer’s questions this will affect how well your voice projects. Also remember to smile, as this will also inflect a positive tone of voice as you speak. If you are doing a video interview – this is even more important!

Slow and steady wins the race
It is often really hard to appreciate just how fast we speak over the phone, especially when there are nerves involved. Be conscious of your speed of delivery and if you notice this happening, pause, take a deep breath and slow everything down. Two very good tips for this include getting up and walking around to regulate your speaking patterns and having a drink at hand that you can take a sip of to slow everything down. 

Manners are still important
Just because you aren’t meeting the interviewer face-to-face, this doesn’t mean you should act any differently than if you were meeting in person. Avoid eating and chewing gum, and don’t try and multitask by doing something else at the same time, which could be perceived as rude, such as using your mobile phone to check on social media or message your friends.

Another consideration that can be tricky when interviewing remotely is interrupting people too much. This is deemed as bad manners but unfortunately, this is much more likely to happen during a telephone/video interview, because over the phone you can’t read the interviewer’s visual cues in order to judge whether they have finished talking, and via video, there may be a slight lag. To avoid interrupting the interviewer, always try and pause for 1-2 seconds once you think they have finished speaking and before starting your response.

Conclude as you would a face-to-face interview
Whilst you are not physically sitting with the interviewer, do still remember to thank the interviewer for their time, and reiterating that you enjoyed learning more about the opportunity. Remember to reinforce your interest in the position, ask if they have any reservations (assumptive close) and by clarifying any next steps.

Again, just because this isn’t a face-to-face interview, doesn’t mean you can’t leave a strong last impression.

After the remote interview

After the interview, if you are still interested in taking the opportunity further, you should follow up just as you would a face-to-face. Always phone your recruiter ‘straight away’ to give them your feedback, and ask them to send a thank you note to the interviewer, affirming again, just how interested you are in the position and their company. 

Hopefully, some of these tips have helped you think about how best to prepare for a remote interview and some of the techniques on how to perfect your telephone/video interviewing manner, specifically your verbal and no-verbal communication skills. 

Remember – as more and more interviews move to remote processes over the coming weeks and months, and competition will undoubtedly be on the rise, putting as much effort into preparing as you would a face-to-face interview is absolutely key.

If you have any further questions or are keen to explore remote opportunities, please get in touch on [email protected]

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