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Cover image for Acing Remote Interviews

Acing Remote Interviews

recursivefaults profile image Ryan Latta ・3 min read

There are lots of strategies you can employ when preparing for a job interview. There are a few more opportunities to pay attention to when you are interviewing remotely. So how can you set yourself up for even more success when you interview from afar?

One of my mentees has a wonderful story where they knew that they were going to be interviewing over video. As a part of her preparation, she took into account what was going to be in view on the camera and took a little extra time to stage that shot. She included items into the shot to make it look both attractive and to draw in the interviewers. The interviewers noted the musical instruments, and that started a conversation about music. That conversation left a positive impression on those interviewers, and that goes a long way.

Set the Scene

Just like my brilliant mentee did when you are interviewing remotely, what are you putting into view? Will your shot be clean and organized, or will you have dishes, cups, and piles of paper everywhere. That last bit is how my desk is on any given day, but it wouldn’t be for an interview.

What else are they going to see about you when your interview starts? What do you surround yourself with? My mentee included musical instruments to draw in the interviewers. What other things would you be able to add to your shot to leave an impression? Here’s a list of ideas you can include:

  • Books (Programming or fun)
  • Items from hobbies
  • Video games
  • Memorabilia
  • Artwork
  • Certifications, awards, accolades
  • Plants

While you may come up with all sorts of items you can include, think about what impression you would have of someone who saw you and your set stage. Set the scene you want them to see. Adjust the lighting and check the sound. Give a great first impression.

Have a Backup

If you go into a video interview and expect the technology to work correctly, you should think again. Technology loves to betray us when we need it most.

When you’re planning your interview, have a backup method to interview on standby. For example, if your interviewers send you a Zoom link, have a Google Hangout on standby. Also, be prepared to move to a simple conference call.

When technology fails, and it will, you will show them how prepared you are when you seamlessly move the whole interview to a working state by having a backup.

Have A Strategy For Media

This last bit is a bit more tricky to consider, but whatever you put in front of your interviewers needs to give you better odds of getting an offer. If that means video conferencing is your best option, push for it. If avoiding video conferencing is your best chance, create that reality.

I have gone so far as to ensure I’m interviewing in a specific location so that people hear the sounds of nature or water. This always leads to a conversation that is on my terms and focused on mutual interest. For example, I will take the call when I’m out on a porch. I have my full attention on the interview, but the sound of birds and occasional wind leads to a, “Where are you?” I can quickly use that to respond by talking about how I like to work outside and enjoy the fresh air, and then ask them about what they enjoy. The more I keep them engaged, the better my odds.

Maybe you want to have some small examples of work that you can screen share. If you are going to screen share, set the scene there too. Leave only the things open you want them to see. When you show them something on your screen, it’s a chance to engage them. Look for those opportunities and take them.

I was on a video call recently where someone was sharing their screen, and I saw they were playing a video game in the background. This observation led to a pretty funny and awkward conversation about the games we play. Our relationship is stronger because of that bond that started only because their screen share showed something they didn’t realize.

Its Your Interview

When you interview in person, you are usually in their office on their terms. When you interview remotely, you have a lot more say in how that interview goes. Everything from the technology, what is seen and heard are all things you can nudge to be slightly in your favor. Next time you interview remotely, take some time and think about how you want your interviewers to experience you. Have a strategy to engage them on your terms. Leave the impression you want them to have.

Posted on Mar 23 by:

recursivefaults profile

Ryan Latta

@recursivefaults

I've been in software since 2009. I help software companies get the results they want and developers get the career of their dreams.

Discussion

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Thank you for such an instructive article!
I am about to take an IKM test on Android but I am not sure what type of questions to expect.
Do you by any chance have any idea? Or perhaps could you suggest some important resources to prepare and Andoird practical interview? (PS: I've done some googling but most don't seem to be much "professional")