By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS
All of your hard work has paid off and now you have been contacted to schedule an interview. In today’s job market, “the interview” has changed. Years ago, an interview was “face-to-face” at the office of the organization. Today, “the interview” starts in a remote manner using different medium. It helps to save money and narrow the field on all sides – as you do not have to pay to travel and lose valuable time and the company does not have to spend time and money on candidates until they have really narrowed the field down.
The following are tips of ways to prepare for each type of remote interview:
1. The Written Interview – While this is not that common, a written interview starts by receiving a notification saying that the company is interested in learning more about you and asking you to sign into a site where you are to answer a series of short essays as the beginning of the interview process. This gives the recruiter a chance to see how well you write under pressure. When the skill they are seeking includes excellent written communication skills, this is a way for the recruiter to hone in on your Value Proposition and supporting stories. The way to be prepared is to have this down cold. Knowing your Value Proposition and supporting stories so that you have them “top of mind’ as you go through the job search process makes it easier to handle any type of situation that comes along such as a written interview. In this arena, in addition to writing about your stories and Value Proposition, you also have to pay attention to your grammar and spelling. As a result you need extra time for proofing. Having your information at your fingertips gives you the extra time to manage these things rather than trying to pull supporting stories out of the back recesses of your memory.
2. The Telephone Interview. The phone interview usually starts with an email requesting that you either contact an admin to set up the call or to reply back by email with the date and time that works best for you. Keep in mind that the prep work that you do can be used as you move to other phases of the interview and search process so investing time in this will save you time later.
- Do your research. Research the company that you are interviewing with. Make sure that you have read their entire website, Google the person you will be interviewing with, look at press releases, newspaper articles and know what is going on there now.
- Prepare your list of questions. These may include questions that you think of as the interviewer speaks with you and things you want to know about the interview process itself such as “Is there anything that you are not clear on that we just discussed?” or “ What are the next steps?” The idea here is to get to the next step and move closer to the face-to-face interview.
- Think about where you will conduct you interview. It needs to be done in a place where you can concentrate, with no noise or distractions with space to spread out your resume, list of questions, and note pad. You can have access to your resume and your research notes and questions. Also, you need a watch to be able to pace yourself. The interviewer may tell you from the beginning that the entire interview may take a half hour. You then want to watch that you are not being too long winded so that you get through all of the questions they have.
- Other considerations. Dress as if you were attending the real thing. This helps to set the stage for a true, business-like atmosphere. Use a landline telephone so that you are not needing to ask the question, “Can you hear me now?”
3. The Video Interview – As technology keeps improving and companies are trying to save on recruiting costs, they are using the video interview more and more. This intermediary step continues to narrow the field so how do you prepare to meet your goal of getting the face-to-face interview?
- Get the details of the event down. Who is your contact? Where is it going to be held? What are your technology needs? Are you going to Kinko’s or is this going to be done on Skype in your home? Have you confirmed the time zone and do you know the differences? Send out an email confirming all of these preliminaries the day before.
- Prepare your materials. Do you have your Value Proposition and stories ready? Have you done your research? Refresh the part about the press releases and review the website as you never know what changes have taken place since you last looked and this may be relevant to your interview.
- Prepare your environment. If you are interviewing off site, the area is most likely prepared. If you are interviewing at home, prepare your workspace but keep in mind that with a camera, the other party will be able to see behind you and around the sides. The area they see should be neat and clear.
- Technology. If you use a camera and a microphone, test them to see that they are in good working order. If you have an extra laptop or other computer, keep it ready as a backup just in case you have a technology failure.
- Skype. Skype interviews are more common today and require a little prep work. First, establish a professional sounding Skype name. Make sure you have the company’s Skype information so that you can re-connect in the event that the call drops. Have a telephone ready so that you can switch at a moment’s notice if necessary. Know what the icons on Skype look like and how to test your connection.
- Business Attire. You will be on screen. They will be looking at what you are wearing to see that you understand the professional nature of the event. Make sure that you are professionally dressed all the way down to your shoes.
- Mastering the visual contact. Think of this interview like a face-to-face interview. Even if you are just staring into a camera, you are not functioning in a vacuum. You need to be concerned about making eye contact, have in a smile on your face and conveying high energy and enthusiasm about the position. All of this is done while speaking clearly to convey why you are the best candidate for the job. There is a lot to concentrate on. This is why your preparation of your Value Proposition and supporting stories is so crucial. This will help to lesson your stress and allow you to focus on these ancillary details.
- Out of the camera’s view. You can have supporting materials to help in your discussion. Your resume, research and other things can be located offsite to help you through the process.
- Conclusion. As the interview concludes remember that you need to thank whomever you were speaking with, tell them how interested you are in the position and that you want the job.
I hope this has opened your eyes to the remote forms of interviewing and the preparation required to be successful. As always, if you are struggling with your search, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-323-9977.
Every success –