Remote Recruitment – How to Prepare for an online interview

20th May 2020

The world of recruitment is adapting quickly to the ‘new normal’. Business critical roles are still being recruited for and so our clients are turning to Zoom, Skype and other online methods to help them hire candidates. Remote interviews aren’t new, but this is the first time we have seen all stages of interview processes being conducted online, and candidates ultimately being on-boarded remotely as well.

When you find yourself not having to travel to an office for an interview and presented instead with the opportunity to interview from the comfort of your own home, it can be easy to overlook the fact that you are still going through a formal interview process. The need for preparation, however, is as important, so here are some essential tips on how to prepare and make a great first impression – from a safe distance!

Do your research

This is essential whether you are meeting a company face-to-face or via any online tool. All of the usual preparation should be done. Make sure you research the company thoroughly online – their website, social media and any relevant industry news about them. As our candidates are applying to work for FMCG brands, they would usually visit stores to view the products and wider category on shelf. As this isn’t now easy to do, we recommend that you visit all of the relevant supermarket websites to check out the products and the category that way. In addition, you should also of course make sure you are very familiar with the job spec and prepare yourself for competency questions in the usual way.

Look the part

It is well documented that many of the cues we give are non-verbal so looking the part for an online interview is very important. If you have been used to working from home in your PJs for a few weeks, it is important that you leave that habit behind on interview day! Get up, get showered and polish up. It is always better to err on the side of looing well-groomed rather than appearing as though you’ve just rolled out of bed. A company’s social media will be able to give you an idea of a company’s dress code and so it is best to go for a similar level of formality. Your recruitment consultant should also be able to give you an idea of how formal or informal the company dress code is. Whatever you wear, make sure you feel confident and comfortable and remember to smile as this will help break the ice with your interviewer.

Prepare your surroundings

Make sure you have let the rest of your household know that you need an hour of quiet in your designated room. We are all familiar with the famous BBC interviewee who had his children barge into the room mid-flow and this or similar situations need to be avoided if possible. Whilst most companies will be understanding of this scenario in the present climate, you don’t want to be left feeling flustered and having lost your train of thought!

Next, look behind where you are sitting. What you can see is what your interviewer will see. Many experts have appeared on TV via video link from their homes to provide commentary during the coronavirus crisis. It is never a good look when they appear onscreen with a pile of washing or a mass of clutter in the background. This may distract your interviewer so opt for a blank or neutral and tidy background if you can. Make sure you turn off your mobile phone or anything else in the room that could cause a distraction during the interview. If you can’t find a suitable background at home, you can use professional looking backgrounds on Zoom.

Testing, one, two

Make sure you switch on your laptop on at least 15 minutes before the interview is due to start. Test everything is working ok – your video camera, microphone, check that the lighting in the room suitable. You could make a quick video call using the same application to a friend just to check they can see and hear you clearly. Make sure that you look directly into the camera as you speak so that the interviewer feels like you are looking at them. If you feel distracted by the image of yourself on screen, Zoom has a feature that allows you to hide your video feed from yourself.

Practice beforehand

The first time you take part in a video interview, you may feel awkward. This is natural and so you may wish to do a short practice interview with a friend or relative in the days beforehand. Zoom has a video feature so you can also video yourself and watch it back. This will enable you to see how you present yourself online and make sure you aren’t shouting or waving your hands around in a distracting way, for example. A practice run will enable you to iron out any bad habits.

Use the advantage

One of the main advantages of a video interview as opposed to a face-to-face one is being able to have all your notes in front of you without the interviewer knowing. It is often useful to have at hand a copy of your CV, any notes you have made and the list of questions you want to ask at the end of the interview. Try not to read from them of course, but the odd glance here and there to prompt you will likely go unnoticed and can be very helpful.

Technical problems?

There is of course the chance that technology will fail you on the day. You may have a poor connection, sound issues or any other potential glitch. Hopefully, the practice call beforehand will help you to reduce this risk but what should you do if it happens during the interview itself? The short answer is to let the interviewer know immediately and not try to muddle through as you may miss key bits of information. If you have persistent technical difficulties, let the interviewer know and stop the call (and redial) if necessary. Keep calm if this happens, you want to demonstrate your ability to deal with adversity in a calm and professional manner.

If you would like to discuss current opportunities with us, we would be happy to speak with you and of course, help you prepare fully for any upcoming interviews. You can reach us on 0207 042 3800.