You’ve found the perfect remote job. You’ve submitted a stellar application. You got the call inviting you to interview, and you’ve spent the past week researching, drafting questions, and digging into your resume in preparation.
Now, the big day is here–and no matter how many people reassure you that you are going to do great, you still find your nerves getting the best of you.
While there’s no way to predict exactly what will happen during your interview, there are many actions you can take to ensure you leave a strong impression on your potential employer. Wondering how to ace an interview for a remote position? Here’s what you need to know.
Practice, Practice, Practice
One key to acing your next job interview is practice. If you can, reach out to a friend or family member and role play an interview. Have them ask both tough and easy questions. And be sure to set up your practice sessions in a way that mimics what you’ll experience on the day of the interview. If you’re interviewing over the phone, ask someone to give you a call. Preparing for a video interview? Prepare using your web cams–and use the same platform you’ll be using during your interview, if you can. Make sure you use this opportunity to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone.
Dressing up is critical for any interview–even if you’re chatting on the phone. Believe it or not, dressing up creates a sense of confidence. And it makes a big difference.
When it comes to knowing what to wear, remember that it never hurts to be a step above the expected dress code. Even though you won’t be physically in the office on a day-to-day basis, your employer will want to see your respect for, and investment in, their company.
Dress codes tend to vary based on industry and position; in some cases, such as roles in fashion or graphic design, bright, experimental colors and funky accessories may be welcome. In many cases, however, dressing in clean business attire–a skirt or pantsuit, for example–is a safe bet. Choose muted colors and, if you choose to wear any, simple jewelry that won’t distract your interviewer from hearing what you have to say. If you’re interviewing in person, avoid heavy perfumes or colognes.
Plan Ahead and Arrive Early
Starting an interview after a stressful commute or harried morning can create unnecessary anxiety that you won’t want weighing you down during your interview. What’s more, because remote positions tend to offer an additional layer of freedom, you’ll want to show your interviewer that you can be counted on to be prepared no matter where you are.
If you’re interviewing in person, try to arrive at the location at least 10 minutes early. If you’re calling into a conference line, test your connection well in advance, and be on the line three minutes before your scheduled time. And, if your interviewer is contacting you, situate yourself in a quiet room no less than five minutes early.
Connect at the Outset
It takes no more than seven seconds to solidify a first impression. In that short amount of time, many people make judgments about your personality–including such traits as trustworthiness. So whether you’re interviewing over the phone, over video, or in person, consider that your interview begins the second you meet your interviewer.
There are a number of ways to ensure you make a positive, lasting impression, including:
- Smiling: Smiling has a major impact not only in person, but also over the phone. In both cases, smiling changes the tone of your voice, creating an unmistakably upbeat lilt. That sense of positivity is contagious; interviewers who hear your voice and feel the boost in your mood will become happier, meaning they’ll leave the conversation feeling good. In person, a smile conveys the kind of confidence and enthusiasm employers are looking for in their employees.
- Offering a firm handshake: Naturally, this technique only works if you meet your interviewer in person, but a firm handshake immediately conveys confidence and authority.
- Making eye contact: If you’re able to see your interviewer either in person or over video, this is a powerful way to demonstrate connection with, and interest in, others.
- Mirroring their body language: It may sound strange, but mirroring your interviewer’s body language and tone can subconsciously suggest your similarities to each other. While you don’t want to be overly explicit with this technique, subtle similarities will go a long way.
Make it a Conversation
Interviews aren’t supposed to feel like oral exams; rather, they’re an opportunity for both you and your interviewer to get to know each other. This is especially important to remember when you’re interviewing for a remote job, because your employer will want clear evidence that you’re engaged and able to communicate clearly, thoughtfully, and effectively.
If you’ve brought your list of questions with you, use that as a jumping-off point–but be sure to ask non-scripted questions as they arise. It is a fact that people enjoy talking about themselves to interested parties, so if you find yourself at a loss for things to say, ask your interviewer about their job. Find out what they love about their company and the work they do, or how your roles will interact. By digging into their roles and giving them an opportunity to speak, you’ll not only create a foundation for a more trusting relationship, but you’ll also learn more about the organization.
Put Yourself in the Role
As you interview, imagine that you’ve already got the position and are well into your work. Don’t be afraid to speak or ask questions using “I/me/my” statements. For example: What expectations would you have for me? How would we interact? What opportunities would I have for professional growth? This will, in turn, allow your interviewer to think about you as an employee, rather than a candidate.
Ask About Next Steps
Now that you’ve aced your interview for a remote job, it’s time to figure out what comes next. Before you leave the room or hop off the phone, take a moment to ask your interviewer what you should expect in terms of follow up. When will you hear back from them? Will you be asked back for a second interview? Find out all the details. You’ll want to know when you’re most likely to hear the good news.
At this time, it’s a good idea to ensure you have written down the names, titles, and contact information of everyone who interviewed you. Once you depart, you’ll want to take a moment to write out thank-you notes (either over email or through the mail) to set yourself apart, reinforce any additional strengths, and show your interviewers that you’ve taken a special interest in them.
No matter who you are or what your desired role, interviewing for a remote job–or any job–is daunting. But with the right tools at your disposal, you can ace any interview that comes your way. Above all, stay focused, and remember: Interviews are simply conversations between people who share some common ground. Approach them with respect, and you’re sure to succeed.
Photo credit: Timothy Eberly @timothyeberly