Ace Your Remote Job Interview: A New Grad’s Winning Strategy

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Flat design illustration of a young female student in her 20s confidently preparing for a remote job interview, with a laptop and notes, set in a tranquil environment with soft colors.

Time to Read: 8 minutes

You’ve hit the ‘submit’ button on your application, and now you’re waiting, fingers crossed, hoping for a response. But what happens when that email finally lands in your inbox inviting you for a remote interview? For many, this is where the real challenge begins.

In this post, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the remote job interview process.

TL;DR

  • Master Remote Interviews: Preparation, from technological setup to company research, significantly boosts your chance of success.
  • Customize Your Application: Aligning your resume and cover letter with the job description enhances your visibility to both ATS and human reviewers.
  • Follow-Up Strategically: Sending a thoughtful thank-you note post-interview and a follow-up if needed demonstrates your interest and can keep you top of mind.

Understanding the Remote Job Interview Process

The world has pivoted dramatically towards remote work, and with it, the job interview process has transformed. Where once a firm handshake might have set the tone, now it’s the clarity of your webcam and the steadiness of your internet connection that first make an impression.

A staggering 86% of employers now favor video interviews for the first stage of the hiring process. This change reflects not just a reaction to global circumstances but a new understanding of efficiency and connectivity in the hiring process.

While the medium has changed, the essence of interviewing – human connection – remains constant. Your challenge is to bridge the physical distance and make a genuine connection through a screen. This involves not just what you say, but how you say it. As a student or recent grad, you’re already more tech-savvy and adaptable than many.

Initial Contact and Application

The Role of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Your resume often first interacts with an algorithm before a hiring manager sees it.

A whopping 98% of Fortune 500 companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter resumes.

Jobscan

Although ATS systems help improve efficiency in the hiring process, it has its limitations.

88% of employers recognize that ATS has a tendency of filtering out highly qualified candidates, especially if their applications are not an exact match to a job description.

Harvard Business School

It’s essential that you craft your application in a way that incorporates exact keywords in a job description. By optimizing your resume with relevant keywords, especially those mentioned in the job listing, you stand a much better chance of making it past the initial screening.

Making Your Application Stand Out

In a sea of candidates, how do you ensure your application doesn’t go unnoticed? Customize your application for each job. This doesn’t mean rewriting your resume from scratch each time, but it does mean tweaking it to align with the job’s requirements. A well-crafted cover letter will also add a personal touch where necessary, and provide further context and explanation for skills and experience from your resume.

Pre-Interview Preparation

Congratulations! Your tailored application has caught an employer’s eye, and you’ve been invited for a remote interview. Proper preparation not only boosts your confidence but also significantly increases your chances of a successful interview.

Setting the Stage for Success

Make sure to choose a quiet, well-lit space with a clean, professional background. Test your technology beforehand – ensure your webcam and microphone work well, and your internet connection is stable. A technical glitch mid-interview can be distracting and may impact the flow of your conversation.

Research is Key

Understanding the company you’re interviewing with will give you a significant edge. Look through their website, recent news, and their presence on social media. This will help you understand where you might fit within the company and how you can contribute.

47% of candidates fail interviews due to a lack of company knowledge.

Zippia

Prepare to Answer and Ask Questions

Knowing that different employers typically ask similar questions with the same themes, you can prepare yourself by brainstorming good answers ahead of time. Here’s a cheatsheet of commonly asked remote job interview questions.

Preparing questions to ask your interviewer is equally important. It demonstrates your interest in the role and the company, and it gives you valuable information to make an informed decision if an offer is extended. Here’s a cheatsheet of insightful questions you can ask during your interview.

Anticipating Technical Questions

Depending on the role, you may face technical questions or tasks. If you’re applying for a role with specific skill requirements, brush up on those areas. For some roles, this might mean reviewing coding languages or design software; for others, it might be preparing case studies or project plans. Make sure you’re comfortable presenting via video call and are able to share your screen if needed. If you anticipate having to do so, make sure you have a clean theme and background. You can change it back after the call, but lets remember to be professional!

The First Stage of Remote Interviews

The first stage of a remote interview often takes the form of a video call or a phone interview. Some companies might even have you submit pre-recorded video responses. Remember, 86% of employers now use video interviews for initial stages, so chances are, you’ll be on camera.

Preparing for Video Calls

For video interviews, ensure your username and profile picture on the platform are professional. Check your lighting and camera angle – you should be clearly visible, and the camera should be at eye level. It’s also very important to ensure your background isn’t cluttered and distracting. You can use the filter options on most video calling platforms to blur your background, or select a green screen option.

Phone interviews, though seemingly simpler, have their nuances. Without visual cues, your tone of voice and clarity of speech carry more weight. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted, and speak clearly and confidently. Keep your resume and notes handy for quick reference.

Handling Technical Glitches

In a remote setting, technical issues can arise. If something goes wrong, don’t panic. Recruiters understand that these things happen. Be prepared to switch to a phone call if your video connection fails, and always have a backup plan.

PRO TIP: In the off chance that you encounter a technical difficulty, remember that how you navigate the situation has an impact on how you’re perceived by a good employer. You should use it as an opportunity to showcase your ability to communicate and problem-solve.

Subsequent Interview Rounds

After successfully navigating the first stage of your remote interview, the following rounds often dive deeper, assessing not just your skills, but how well you fit into the company’s future.

Preparing for In-Depth Interviews

Subsequent interviews usually involve more detailed discussions about your experience, skills, and how you handle certain situations. Be ready to discuss specific examples from your past work or academic experiences that demonstrate your problem-solving skills, teamwork, and adaptability. It’s one thing to possess certain skills on paper, but it’s entirely different to have applied them in real world situations.

Handling Multiple Interviewers

In some rounds, you might be interviewed by multiple people, including potential teammates or various department heads. This is an opportunity to understand different perspectives within the company. Active listening and asking thoughtful questions shows your ability to communicate with a diverse group of people and helps reinforce your interest in the company as a whole.

Post-Interview Follow-Up

Within 24 hours after your interview, it’s good practice to send a thank-you email or message to the interviewer. This both a strategic move and a practice in good manners. Express gratitude for the opportunity and reiterate your enthusiasm for the role. Be specific – mention a part of the interview that was particularly meaningful or insightful. This shows you were engaged in the conversation. The idea is to get you to stand out, and remain in their mind well after your interview is over.

PRO TIP: In our hiring experience, assuming you did well during an interview and they like you, sending a well written follow-up can give you an edge over other strong candidates.

Keeping the Communication Lines Open

If you haven’t heard back within the timeframe mentioned during the interview, it’s appropriate to send a polite follow-up. Inquire about the status of your application and restate your interest in the position. Keep your tone friendly and professional – you want to convey eagerness, not desperation.

Dealing with Silence

Sometimes, you might face a longer wait than expected, or no response at all. While it can be disheartening, don’t let it dampen your spirits. Use this time to reflect on your interview performance and consider areas for improvement.

Preparing for Feedback

Whether it’s positive news or a rejection, be prepared for any outcome. If you aren’t offered the position, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. Most interviewers are happy to provide insights that can help you in future applications.

The Bottom Line

Preparation is key – setting up the right environment, researching the company, and practicing your responses can make a significant difference. Take on each stage with confidence and adaptability, whether it’s your first video interview or the exciting moment of receiving a job offer.

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The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

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