Career Advice

Here’s How To Ace a Remote Job Interview—Because Zoom Isn’t Going Anywhere

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Getty Images/Oscar Wong
It’s been a year since the physical office was phased out, and it’s still going to take a minute for a major comeback. That’s super weird if you’re just now looking for job. With fewer opportunities to “meet” your future colleagues in person, many interview processes now take place exclusively online. And hey, that’s great for those of us who hate pants, but if you’re fresh to a largely digital job-searching landscape, you’re probably wondering how to ace a remote interview.

Succeeding in any interview is all about engaging with the interviewer, according to Erin Hatzikostas, career coach and founder of bAuthentic Inc. “The biggest mistake people make is thinking the interview is a ‘test’ when it’s really about connecting,” says Hatzikostas. “That is, the answers themselves aren’t as important as the way in which you answer.”

The good news, then, is that Zoom interviews really aren’t too different from in-person interviews. The unfamiliar objectives, though, are bridging a connection gap created by technology and troubleshooting potential digital hiccups. Here’s how to do both.

How to ace a remote job interview by bridging the technology gap

1. Tell stories

More than likely the interviewer is going to prompt you with some sort of “tell me a time when you…” story to suss out your skills. But stories can actually be a powerful connector throughout, and a good way to bring in that human element.

“For example, instead of introducing your experience with a snoozy, chronological list of experiences, tell a story about how you got into the horticulture industry or a story that demonstrates your passion for health care,” says Hatzikostas. “Be sure to take them on a roller coaster ride in that story that includes a dash of humility or humor. I promise, a decent story trumps a dim set of facts any day by creating immediate curiosity and connection.”

2. Set your camera at eye level

This sounds like strange flex, but it’s all about keeping yourself on equal footing with the interviewer.

“Below eye level, or looking down at the screen, can give a domineering energy off,” says Kimberly Lucht, a life and business coach in New York City. “Above eye level, or looking up at the screen, can give a submissive vibe. Be equal to the interviewer by having your eye gaze equal with the camera height.”

3. Ask powerful questions

“A powerful question isn’t something like, ‘Tell me about your culture’ or certainly not logistical, such as ‘When do you expect to select a candidate,'” says Hatzikostas. “Instead, powerful questions turn the table on the interviewer and show that you truly care about what’s important to them.”

One really great example of a powerful question is something like, “What is the one thing, that if you could accomplish it next year, would change everything?” She recommends preparing a list of potential powerful questions, and also prepare your answers to their questions.

4. Make sure you’re truly shining

“Face a window or have another form of lighting,” says Lucht. “Better lighting makes you seem more competent and confident. Perfect for a job interview.”

If you have a dungeon-like amount of lighting in your home, no worries. A Video Conference Lighting Kit ($25) is an evergreen investment for the WFH life. And think of it this way: you’re already saving money on interview clothes.

5. Use good headphones with a mic if possible

“This’ll make sure that there’s no feedback and they can hear you well,” says Lucht. “Extra credit if they’re comfy to wear.” Oh, and dear god, make sure you don’t accidentally hit “mute” before you launch into your elevator pitch on why you’d be an amazing asset to the team. Apple Airpods Pro ($197) is an unrivaled choice for the remote business world.

6. Smile and engage

While this may sound super simplistic, a major drawback of Zoom life is losing important body language cues. So when we’re working from the neck up, maintaining resting bitch face during an interview can speak volumes about how you’re disinterested in being here—even if your words speak nothing but enthusiasm!

“Smiling one simple component has been the final factor in so many of the hires I’ve made over the years,” says Hatzikostas. “That is, those people that show genuine energy, interest, and care for me and my business are the ones I want, and hire, on my team.”

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