I’ve written in the past about how to pass an interview…
But there are also some specific topics you need to be prepared to discuss in a remote job interview, and not preparing will cost you job offers.
After years of working as a professional recruiter, I’m going to share the tips and preparation steps needed to ace your remote interview.
How to Ace a Remote Job Interview
1. Organize your space
If your home office is a mess, the hiring manager may fear that you won’t be effective in a remote role.
So to prepare for remote interviews, make sure you’ve got a clutter-free and noise-free room to take the call.
If you have pets or children in your home, make sure you have a plan to keep them occupied during the interview process.
You don’t want any distractions in your job interviews, especially when interviewing for remote jobs when the hiring manager is seeing the actual environment that you’ll be working from!
2. Test your video interview/online interview setup
Next, test the specific virtual interview platform the company plans to use.
It’s always good to do a test run on the specific website/platform you’ll be using in the interview to make sure there are no unexpected errors and to get yourself familiar with the technology.
Practice speaking with a friend or family member, and make sure the audio is clear and the camera is at eye level.
Notice whether your background looks clutter-free and professional.
Ask one of your friends or family members to confirm whether they can see and hear you clearly, too. If not, run an internet speed test and pay particular attention to the upload speed, which is vital for the interviewer to see and hear you clearly.
If you’ve been scheduled for a video interview and don’t know what platform it’s being conducted on, ask the company ahead of time.
Many companies interview remote workers via Zoom. Some tech companies prefer Google Hangouts. Other organizations may use another online video platform.
Getting your remote interview setup out of the way and testing it with a friend or family member will remove some anxiety and let you focus on the rest of these steps for succeeding in remote job interviews.
Now that we’ve gotten some basic remote interview setup out of the way, let’s talk about how to truly stand out and impress in your remote interview.
3. Be ready to share why you’re interested in working remotely
If a job offers remote work, many employers will assume that you know this and find it attractive.
Remote teams receive more applicants for each job they post because so many people want this freedom and flexibility, so you should always expect one or two interview questions about what you think of working remotely.
You can mention work-life balance, the fact that you’re more productive in a home office, or any other reason you want to work remotely.
Just be ready for the question, and if they ask, “Why did you apply to this position?” then be honest if the opportunity for remote work was a part of this.
That was a big mistake I made in a remote interview early in my career…
In a video interview, I acted like the remote work aspect wasn’t one of the reasons I applied. I acted as if I had barely noticed.
That was untrue, and the hiring manager probably knew… from my body language, tone of voice, etc.
Employers don’t hire people who seem dishonest in the interview.
They’re going to hire candidates who are upfront and direct in the job interview, even if the answer they’re giving to a question isn’t “perfect.”
You’re better off just being honest if they ask why you applied, why you want this job, etc.
Don’t just say you want to work remotely, but you can mention it and show enthusiasm if it excites you.
4. Be ready to explain why the role interests you
Wanting a remote role isn’t enough to get hired for the position.
Employers also want to hear from each candidate why they want this job and why they want to work for this company (the specific job is the most important topic to discuss).
Even if the main reason you applied for a role was to secure remote work, still be ready to point to areas of the job description that excite you, or what you hope to gain from the experience.
You’re not going to impress a potential employer when interviewing if you can’t explain why their exact position attracted your attention and why you thought to apply for this role.
This is “how to ace your interview 101” but so many candidates don’t do a great job of this.
And it’s more essential in a remote interview, simply because so many candidates apply, and many do so only to secure remote work.
Those aren’t the people who will get chosen for the role! The interviewer is smarter than that, and they know how to find someone who:
- Knows what the job involves
- Can explain how the job duties fit their interests, passions, or career goals.
5. Review your recent accomplishments and successes
In any interview, job seekers should be familiar with their recent work and achievements.
You don’t want to be unsure or hesitate too much when you answer questions such as:
- What were you responsible for in your most recent position?
- What challenges have you overcome recently?
- What is your greatest achievement in your life/career?
You’ll be better prepared for all of the above if you review your resume and make sure you’re familiar with your work.
This may sound obvious but if it’s been a while since you wrote your resume, you may have forgotten some areas.
Beyond this, think about how your past work demonstrates that you’re the right candidate for this company and position.
When interviewing, always aim to show how your experience will be relevant and helpful in the job you want next.
This is one of those tips that can get you hired even if another candidate has more experience than you.
It’s a way to truly set yourself apart to the interviewer, so spend time thinking about this area when preparing for your remote interview.
Finally, if you’ve performed remote work in the past, be ready to discuss this and share what you accomplished in prior remote jobs, and what you learned about staying organized, communicating well, etc.
Most employers will consider candidates even if they don’t have previous remote jobs in their background, but any time you can point to previous successes while working virtually is a win.
6. Be ready to talk about your organizational skills and work ethic
If you want to get hired onto a remote team, the interviewer has to trust that you’re honest, accountable, and hard-working, even when nobody is watching you.
So be prepared for questions like:
With all of these character-focused interview questions, you want to respond confidently with great eye contact and show that you’re a person they can count on to get the work done even if you’re doing it at home.
This is also why it’s so crucial to minimize distractions during the interview… from pets, children, street noise, etc.
Do the best you can to cut out all distractions so that the interviewer sees you’ll be effective and focused in your home work environment.
For more help, read: 19 remote job interview questions.
7. Write down 3-4 questions to ask the interviewer
You can always expect the interviewer to conclude by saying, “Do you have any questions for me?” and trust me — you do not want to be the person who says, “No.”
If you have zero questions about the job, company, team, etc., an employer is going to simply think you’re not that interested, or you’re not taking your job search that seriously.
One of the best tips I can give you is to treat the questions you ask as 25% of the interview. Most candidates treat it like an afterthought — a tiny portion.
Don’t do that.
You’ll win more jobs if you ask the employer great questions.
You can ask about:
- Initial goals in the role and what success will look like in the first 90 days
- How your performance will be measured
- What type of training and remote onboarding is provided
- Team and company goals for the upcoming year
- What tips they can offer to a new employee joining the organization
- What tools the remote team uses to communicate and track work
- What they feel sets their company apart from competitors, and what they do better
There’s so much you can ask about and so much great info you can pick up by asking questions in the job interview.
That’s why the interviewer is going to be concerned if you can’t think of a single question to ask them.
As a final tip/warning: Be sure not to ask questions that can be answered by quickly browsing the company website. For example, don’t ask, “What is your mission statement?”
Or don’t ask a hiring manager, “What is your background?” when you could have looked it up on a site like LinkedIn.
8. Plan your interview outfit
Plan to dress appropriately and set aside your interview outfit ahead of time so that you’ll have one less thing to worry about on the morning of your interview.
In fact, I recommend you put together your interview outfit before practicing the video chat with friends/family, so you can see how it looks.
Even if you’re not going to be interacting face-to-face with people in an office environment, you’ll still make a better impression on employers if you dress well for the interview.
Dressing the part will put you in a more professional mindset, too.
Choose clothing that looks professional but not too “loud” or colorful. Ensure your clothing is wrinkle-free, too.
9. Double-check the time of your interview
As one of the final steps to prepare for any virtual interview, check your email or other communication with the company and just confirm the time and time zone.
Don’t miss your interview due to a time zone mix-up, etc. Be extra careful if your interviewer is located in a different part of the country, and if in doubt, just ask.
Google Calendar, Zoom, and other big remote communication platforms usually do a great job of setting calendar appointments for your local time zone but it’s still smart to double-check before the day of your video interview.
10. Prepare for the unexpected
Lastly, have a general idea of what you’ll do if the remote job interview platform doesn’t connect or if there’s unexpected noise or other disturbances during your video interview.
While it’s unlikely that Zoom will go down, some smaller platforms may be less reliable.
Have a backup plan in case you can’t get onto the video call.
Do you have a phone number you can use to call the interviewer? Do you have a recent email from the interviewer that you can respond to and notify them that you’re having trouble?
These are points that job candidates don’t have to think about in a regular interview or in-person interview but some are areas remote workers or anyone attending virtual interviews need to be ready for.
Conclusion: How to Prepare for a Remote Interview
If you’ve read the steps above, you now know how to prepare to ace your remote job interview.
Test your video setup and create a distraction-free space where you’re comfortable speaking into the camera, but don’t neglect the other tips…
…Focus heavily on preparing for the remote interview questions you’ll be asked, and on preparing questions to ask the company.
Because at the end of the day, a remote job interview is just like any interview:
The employer is going to pick someone who seems enthusiastic and interested, who can clearly explain their recent work and strengths, and who can articulate why this remote job fits their career goals.