Acing the Remote Job Interview: Expert Tips for Candidates From HR Professionals

Remote interviews have their own unique quirks, challenges and qualities. These HR professionals shared how candidates can navigate them.

Written by Lucas Dean
Published on Jul. 31, 2023
Acing the Remote Job Interview: Expert Tips for Candidates From HR Professionals
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The rise of remote work comes with video interviews — and all of the unique anxieties and considerations that follow. 

Picture this: a candidate sits down for an in-person interview after having diligently researched the employer. Things are off to a great start, the potential hire is providing confident, well-informed answers, when suddenly the interviewer freezes mid-sentence. 

After a few seconds that feel much longer, the interviewer begins speaking again and asks the final few words of a question. The interviewee, suddenly out of the loop and thrown off their game, asks, “I’m sorry, but could you repeat that?”

If this happened face-to-face, one would probably feel they had experienced a disorienting glitch in the matrix. In a digital environment, however, it’s common and expected. Regardless of how unsurprising, moments like these can derail an otherwise promising introduction. 

Herein lies the crux: many of the expectations for remote interviews are the same as in-person ones. Preparation and gathered knowledge remain incredibly important to get a foot in the door. Presentation and eloquence are sought after. 

But there are the additional unique and sometimes technical demands — the internet connection, home surroundings, lighting, camera and audio quality, and so on — of a remote interview. 

By prepping for the ancillary aspects of a remote interview, jobseekers can ensure they leave a positive, lasting impression free of unwelcome interruptions or awkward interactions. 

Here’s the advice the HR professionals at Buildout and Sprout Social shared about nailing the remote hiring process. 

 

Emily Rizzo
Principal Recruitment Partner • Sprout Social

 

More than 30,000 leading brands rely on Sprout Social’s all-in-one social media management platform to gain data-driven insights into their marketing and create deeper connections with their audiences.

 

What should a candidate do to prepare for the remote hiring process at Sprout? 

Test your tech. First off, be sure to check that you have a strong and stable WiFi connection. In case there are any connectivity issues during your interview, contact your recruiter and ask for a dial-in option. I also recommend familiarizing yourself with the video conferencing software you’ll be using and ensuring that you have the latest version downloaded on your computer. If you plan on presenting a slide deck for a presentation and have to share your screen or plan to use a second monitor, it’s important to practice and work out all the kinks the night before. Lastly, don’t forget to turn off the notifications on your computer and smartphone so the interview isn’t interrupted.

Do your homework. At Sprout, we appreciate when candidates come prepared for their interview having researched our company, solutions and values. If the information hasn’t been provided to you in advance, ask your recruiter about the structure of the interviews and if there will be any focus areas or themes that will be covered during your conversations. I would also review the LinkedIn profiles of the interviewers you’ll be meeting with and have questions prepared for each of them.

 

At Sprout, we appreciate when candidates come prepared for their interview having researched our company, solutions and values.”

 

What is the most important thing a candidate should do during a remote interview at Sprout? 

Be specific. Let’s say you’re interviewing for a leadership role and you describe yourself as an inspiring people leader. Our interview teams would love to hear examples of how you’ve inspired your teams versus simply stating you’re an inspiring leader. Or, if you’re a people leader who’s been leading remotely over the last few years, we would welcome hearing some of the techniques you’ve implemented for motivating teams since moving into a remote setting.

Bring us your point of view. Once you’ve had the chance to meet with the hiring manager and additional members of the interview team, we encourage candidates to begin formulating their perspective on the role for which they are interviewing. We value hearing what you’ve learned throughout your interviews and how you could leverage your skills and background with our current team, processes and culture.
 

What other advice do you have for candidates looking for remote work?

I polled our team of 30 recruitment practitioners, and they overwhelmingly agreed that being authentic and present is the number one piece of advice they have for candidates looking for remote work. Now that most of us work remotely, we realize how it could be tempting to read prepared answers during an interview or give a presentation by reading directly from your notes. Embracing the opportunity to connect from a distance and letting your genuine self radiate through the screen will resonate much better with the team and company with whom you’re interviewing.

 

 

 

Olivia Mackay
Sr. People Business Partner • Buildout, Inc.

 

Over 35,000 brokers and 12 out of the top 20 brokerages rely on Buildout’s commercial real estate marketing automation solutions to help them bring their expertise to every stage of their deals. 

 

What should a candidate do to prepare for the remote hiring process at Buildout? 

Throughout the interview process with Buildout, you’ll meet with a recruiter, hiring manager and several of your role's peers and direct reports. This format gives you a holistic, 360-degree view of the role, company and your future teammates. It’s also a great opportunity to look up each interviewer on LinkedIn before you meet so you have some context on their background and can align specific questions. Preparing thoughtful interview questions is a great way to stand out and convey your interest in working with us.

I also recommend reviewing the job posting and the skills needed prior to the interview and jotting down examples of your experience you want to highlight. With limited time together, it’s important to share those highlights with the interviewer during Q&A if it didn’t already come up in the interview naturally. 

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to do a test run of the tools you’ll be using for your interview beforehand. We use Google Meet for our video calls because there’s no special software you need to download - you only need to know how to use your video and microphone. This allows us to preserve that precious interview time!
 

What is the most important thing a candidate should do during a remote interview at Buildout? 

Most importantly, be yourself! We understand that interview nerves are a real thing, but we encourage you to bring your authentic self to each interview. We love getting to know the real you! We invite you to share your nickname, pronunciation and preferred pronouns with us before the interview to make the experience as inclusive as possible. This also includes the dress code, or lack thereof, so you can fully focus on being comfortable and nailing the interview.

 

We understand that interview nerves are a real thing, but we encourage you to bring your authentic self to each interview.”

 

At Buildout, we pride ourselves on our quirkiness and we want to surround ourselves with people who are going to push us forward and be genuine in what they do. So while you’re focused on putting your best foot forward, we hope we’ve made you comfortable enough to be yourself and go rogue from any scripted responses.

 

What other advice do you have for candidates looking for remote work?

Interviewing is a two-way street, so it’s important that you’re getting to know us just as much as we’re getting to know you. It’s a great opportunity to ask the hiring manager about their communication style and working norms or ask peers about the team dynamic and challenging parts of the role. 

As you’re preparing for interviews, be prepared to share what’s important and what’s non-negotiable in your next role. This allows you to make an informed decision that hopefully leads to an easy and excited ‘yes’ at the offer stage!

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and featured companies.

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