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The secret to a great remote job interview

May 01, 2014

Remote job interviews are becoming increasingly popular as companies seek ways to streamline their IT recruiting and hiring processes. By conducting a phone, Skype or video conference interview, organizations can narrow down their list of candidates before bringing them on-site. As a job applicant, you also benefit from the opportunity to have an initial encounter without traveling to the company campus, which could be burdensome when you're applying to many positions or seeking jobs in distant locations.

Phone screening and online video calls may seem less daunting and formal than traditional interviews, but you'd be making a great mistake to brush them off. In fact, the process has its own challenges that you should keep in mind as you approach the big day.

Preparation: Setting yourself up for success 
Before your call or video appointment, you should spend some time getting yourself and your surroundings ready for the session. First, the same rules apply for remote interviews as in-person ones: Do your research, know the company and prepare questions to ask your interviewer. Then, you should choose the location for your call strategically. It's essential to have a place with minimal background noise and distractions—for both you and your interviewer. Have your papers and writing utensils in place before the call so you're not shuffling papers or scrambling to find something. If you're using video, make sure your background isn't distracting or inappropriate and test the lighting before the big moment.

You'll also want to ensure you're set up with the right hardware. Not only does knowing how to use your own technology seem like a prerequisite for any IT job, furnishing yourself with the best tools can give your interview a polished touch. In other words, make sure you have a quality microphone, webcam and connection for video calls and test them ahead of time to verify that they work and discover the optimal settings. For phone calls, land lines usually offer the best connection, but if you must use your cell phone you should at least guarantee that you have top-notch reception and full battery power.

During the interview: Presentation is (almost) everything
When you're communicating over the phone or via the Internet, speaking clearly and confidently is even more important than during an in-person interview because the full range of non-verbal cues are not there to help bridge any gaps. Even video calls don't offer the same perspective as speaking to someone in person. Additionally, regardless of whether you have the highest quality connection, speaking over technology can easily result in muddled words and quiet voices. Given the increasing need for professionals in IT careers to be able to communicate well with other departments, your interviewer may be paying special attention to how well you can manage a remote conversation.

Therefore, you should make sure you slow yourself down and speak loudly without mumbling. Your voice can carry an authority that will leave a lasting impression on your recruiter. For phone calls, try standing instead of sitting, since the posture often evokes a sense of confidence that will be conveyed in your voice. Additionally, smiling can improve your mindset, affecting how you express yourself.

For a video interview, your posture and gestures count just as much as they do during an in-person meeting—maybe more. You'll want to avoid distracting movements and sit upright with your webcam or screen at an appropriate angle. Make sure you're dressed appropriately, too. You should wear the same neat, presentable attire that you would choose for an on-site interview.

Conclusions: Ending on a strong note
As you approach the final moments of your interview, keep your focus and make a good closing impression. Whereas in a regular setting, your last motion is your exit from the room, your final statement is the clincher for your remote encounter. You should practice some final statements, just as you would for an in-person interview, and keep your voice strong and confident to the end. 

Overall, remote interviews aren't all that different from the traditional process. If you're nervous about speaking in front of a camera or over the phone, practice these skills with friends or family ahead of time until it comes naturally. By holding yourself to the same standards of etiquette and preparation you would for an other professional meeting, you'll be all set to let your talents shine.

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