Project Management

25 ways to Prepare for an Interview Remotely

Reading Time:
4 mins read
Ben Willmott

Remote working is currently the norm as of May 2020, and the need to adapt to remote working is now a must rather than a nice to have.  

Thousands of companies around the world are adapting to the new way of working, and it’s changing the way we think about how we work and how we recruit.  

More and more companies now not only recruiting remotely but the candidates they’re looking at can be truly global.  

What this means is the market for specific roles is getting bigger, so how you prepare for an interview is now even more critical.  

A remote interview still requires the same preparation as a face to face interview when it comes to preparing your questions, rehearsing your responses and research on the role and company you’re interviewing for.  

What changes with a remote interview is the set up of your interview space. With face to face interviews, it was how you presented yourself physically but now you have to consider things like how good is your audio, what is your viewing angle like and do I have a quiet space to do the interview in.

By completing these 25 preparation tasks, it could be the difference from having a good interview versus having a great one.

25 Interview Preparation Tasks

  1. Have your notes beside you, but keep them simple and brief, so they're easy to read.
  2. If you plan to take notes during the interview, consider where your camera is placed, as you want the interviewer to see only the top of your head for half of the interview.
  3. Always test the meeting video links well before the meeting begins. Are the sound and video working?
  4. If you're not alone in the house, ask everyone to stay off the internet for that hour to give you the best possible connection. 
  5. If you have a wired connection, use it for the interview over WiFi.
  6. Have a backup in case the video connection is terrible. Has the interviewer also provided a dial-in? If not, ask for one. Have the number stored on your phone so you call it quickly or write it down next to you.
  7. Have some water next to you just in case you get that nervous dry throat but be aware of slurping as no one wants to hear that.  
  8. Prepare a brief story on your experiences of working remotely, covering the positives, negatives and what you've learnt. 
  9. Note down a couple of small talk questions, if needed, at the start and closing of the interview. 
  10. Prepare some thoughts on good industry practices when it comes to working remotely 
  11. Have some questions prepared on the role and the company you're interviewing for
  12. If you have specific points to make or questions to ask that you want to cover, then add them as a post it to your screen as a reminder. This is a great way to keep them front of centre and prevent you from looking down at your notes
  13. Do your research on the company you're interviewing for and the interviewer. 
  14. Don't have anything behind you that will be distracting for the interviewer, but don't worry about having anything personal on show, like a picture from holiday; it's a great way for them to get to know you and as an icebreaker, if they mention it. 
  15. Or use a fake background to avoid distractions that are built into tools like Teams or Zoom.
  16. Any stories and experiences you may want to share in the interview, practice them by turning your webcam or mobile on, click record and practice delivering them. Get these stories smooth and to the point. 
  17. Use headphones or a microphone if you have one. The better your sound, the easier it will be for the interviewer to focus on your answers. Test different microphones by recording yourself to find the best one. 
  18. Close any windows and doors to reduce the risk of distracting noises outside (birds, car alarms etc.) for the interviewer. 
  19. Think about the light in the room you're taking the interview in. Will the interviewer be able to see you clearly? Make sure the light is in front of you.
  20. Keep a clock visible at all times so you can help manage the time of the interview. Highlighting the time left is a great way to end a story or answer you're describing if you're struggling to end it. 
  21. Are there documents, sites, or examples of your work you may like to share with the interviewer? Have these ready in case you need to screen share
  22. Remove everything from your desktop as if you ever need to share your screen; a cluttered desktop doesn't give a good impression of an organised person.
  23. Close down any applications you're not using during the interview to reduce the risk of opening or showing something you didn't plan to. 
  24. Turn off all notifications on your laptop to avoid any awkward emails or reminders popping up
  25. If you run out of questions to ask and there is still time left in the interview, always ask, "Is there anything else I can share with you or answer for you?"

Bonus Tip:

  • If you have a landline phone in the room or anything else that could make a noise like an Alexa, printer turned on, an alarm clock, turn them all off or remove them from the room completely.

Ben Willmott
Ben is Delivery Director at the London based creative agency Wunderman Thompson where he creates bespoke ways or working for his clients and teams. Ben is also the founder of The PPM Academy specializing in coaching Project Management, Agile Delivery and how to be more productive at home and work.

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