Sogeti's tips for thriving in a remote interview
It goes without saying, interviews are stressful. Whether it’s because you’re excited about the position and want to your best foot forward, you’re nervous because you don’t know exactly what types of questions to expect or because the pressure of the interview itself brings up feelings of anxiety - it’s natural. Typically, face to face interviews provide the social cues and buffers required to help calm at least some of these jitters, allowing you to settle into a natural flow. But with companies all switching to a fully digital format for the foreseeable future, many of those cues you would have relied on to calm frazzled nerves are gone.
While video conferencing software does serve as a useful stand-in for the, it’s not without its faults. Speaking into a webcam feels unnatural, bandwidth issues inevitably mean patches of delayed audio, and let’s not forget the awkward “Can you hear me?”, “Yes, can you hear me?” introduction to the call.
But rest assured, this adjusted format of interviewing is awkward for us recruiters too. While we don’t feel the same nerves that most candidates do, many of us are still adapting. Bear in mind, though, we still want you to perform your best regardless of the change. And since companies are unlikely to allow on-site interviews for some time, we’d like to point out a few things that you may not be aware of that can help or hinder you on a remote interview. Here are our tips to follow:
Test out the tool:
This may seem really obvious, but you should make it a priority to test the software for the call. Click the link and make sure the product launches properly on your computer- it’s better than finding out moments before you’re supposed to connect that you need to update or install a new programme. Try calling one of your loved ones to make sure your audio and webcam are both functioning normally. If you plan to use a headset, make a call to ensure both the headphones and microphone are connected correctly.
Pick your location wisely:
If at all possible, it’s important to have a plain backdrop for your interview. A blank wall is ideal, but if your setup doesn’t allow for it at least make sure that there is nothing distracting in the background. Sitting in front of a window or bright light will cast shadows and make it difficult for your interviewer to see you. If needs be, most tools have blank or blurred effect backdrops that you can switch on as the call begins. Whatever you opt for, make sure you’re centre stage in your own interview.
Practice speaking into the webcam:
If you’re anything like me, naturally you’ll tend to watch yourself in the smaller box at the bottom of your screen during a video call. It’s hard to resist, but you must! Speaking into the webcam doesn’t feel natural, but for your interviewer, you will appear completely engaged and concentrated. If you’ve got a dual monitor setup, make sure the webcam is facing you straight on and you’ve launched the interview on the same screen.
Pay attention to your body language:
Try to use natural body language where possible. If you speak with your hands during a typical conversation, feel free to do so via video conference. If you feel more comfortable sitting still, that’s just fine too. But avoid leaning into the computer and resting your face in your hands or partially covering your mouth while speaking. These are unconscious habits that you may not be aware of, but they can have a big impact on your perceived professionalism and engagement during a short interview.
Avoid unnecessary distractions:
Interviewers understand that most candidates are facing blurred lines between home and office and can appreciate that unexpected interruptions may occur, but do your best to avoid any disruption to the flow of the conversation. For example, bring a small glass of water to sip from rather than a large water bottle or canteen that can be clunky and awkward, silence your mobile phone and select a location where family members won’t accidentally walk in on your meeting.
Dress as you would for an in-person meeting:
Unless you’ve been specifically told otherwise, it’s a good idea to dress as you would for a typical, face to face meeting. Dressing professionally signals to HR professionals and hiring managers alike that you are taking this opportunity seriously and that you’re invested in the process. Making the same effort as you would for a standard meeting may not be a make or break factor in you getting the job, but it will do wonders for the team’s first impression of you.
Don’t underestimate the value of good interview prep:
It’s true, you don’t know exactly what we’re going to ask you but you can still prepare for any interview in a few simple ways. First, make sure you feel comfortable describing your academic background and career to-date in a clear and concise way. You’ll want to be able to discuss your career progression as well as accomplishments you’ve achieved in previous roles. Then, find a way to tie them in with the requirements for the role you’re interviewing for. Don’t forget to do your research- read up on what’s going on in the company and learn as much as you can about the team you’re hoping to join. Last of all, make sure you’ve got insightful questions to ask the interviewer. It’s simply not good enough to say “No, you’ve answered all my questions.”
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but they can be easily overlooked in the moment. While the virtual setup may throw a wrench into the interview mix, our expectations as an organisation haven’t changed due to it. Bear in mind that we’re still evaluating you as a potential member of our teams and want to give you every opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and achievements. With a bit of preparation, we know you’ll be able to do just that!