How to Interview From a Distance
Even if you live close to the company you’re interviewing with, odds are very good they’ll want to talk to you on the phone or via video first, as distance interviews remain a popular, cost-efficient way for employers to screen candidates.
Since this is your entrée into the process, treat these interviews as a seriously as you would an in-person interview. Set yourself up for success with these video and phone interview tips:
- Before you get that call to interview, double-check that your voicemail message is job search-ready. No static, no default robot voice, no distracting background noise.
- Alert anyone you live with that it’s “quiet on the set.” Close doors and windows to muffle leaf blowers, sirens, and traffic. Make sure your pets are contained and content so they don’t interrupt!
- Make sure you’re in a location where you have the best connection. If you live in an area where you have spotty service, then relocate to a place where it won’t be an issue. Avoid taking the call in your car to eliminate street noise and other elements beyond your control, like a construction crew coming back to life after a lunch break.
- Spread out your notes and have ready your list of questions.
- Stand as you talk with your interviewer to project energy and enthusiasm.
- Resist the urge to multitask! You might be tempted to use up some nervous energy by pacing around or tidying up the kitchen while you talk. They will hear you! Keep your focus on the conversation and take notes so you stay engaged.
- Use a mirror and look at yourself during the interview. Remember to smile as you would in person—the interviewer can absolutely detect that positive vibe over the phone.
- Get your interviewer’s email contact information, and immediately send a thank-you note.
- Ensure you have a strong, reliable internet connection, and if you don’t, relocate. I worked with a client who lived in a rural area with unreliable service, and he reserved a room at his local library.
- Test the app in advance. Most platforms like WebEx, Zoom, or GoToMeeting allow you to do this, and testing with a friend or family member will give you a comfort level using the app before the stakes are higher. Research the platform to make sure you have the bandwidth required to run the app.
- Learn how to make good eye contact by practicing looking at your webcam or laptop lens while you talk. Use a small post-it note tacked next to the lens with arrows and a “Look Here” reminder note. If you look at your interviewer’s face on screen v. the camera, your eye contact will be off.
- Position your computer so your head, shoulders, and some of your torso is showing, so it looks more natural to the interviewer, as if you were in the room with them. Use masking or blue painter’s tape to mark the spot on your table or desk so you can easily get into position when the time comes.
- Scan your background and make sure it’s clean and professional-looking. Stash away piles of laundry, remove any distracting prints/images on the wall (people have been eliminated based on what’s in the background), ensure there’s no TV or other screens in the background.
- Situate your family, pets, and roommates as in #1 phone interviewing tip.
- Dress professionally—exactly as you would for an in-person interview.
- Agree with your interviewer on a Plan B should you become disconnected or have a poor connection.
- Send a thank-you note!
Ensuring a strong connection, eliminating distractions, testing, and practice will get your next conversation off to a great start!
For a quick, distance interview checklist and 9 more interview success tips, get my free cheat sheet.
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketer dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job!
Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.