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The one thing to look for to thrive in a remote interview

Shot of a mid adult businesswoman having a video call on a laptop
Here's how to nail your next remote interview. Image: Getty

First impressions count.

This universal wisdom applies with so much more consequence (or benefit, if you get it right!) when it comes to job interviews. And thanks to the new era of 2020, with remote meetings, work from home norms, and now - remote interviews, the challenge of nailing that first job interview just became that much more difficult.

How are you supposed to build rapport through the screen, show warmth, personality, demonstrate your skill and ultimate desirability for the role, while being restricted to the confines of a computer monitor?


The short answer is, not only can you do it, but you can master it.

Believe it or not, the trick to remote interviews in today’s climate is to treat it like it’s not a remote interview at all!

By defying the robotic nature that tech can sometimes induce, and embracing a human-first approach, you’ll likely make a stronger impression than you could do in person because you’ll be credited for thriving in a restricted environment.

People are truly craving human connection now more than ever, so this will work to your advantage.

Here’s some tips on how to do just that:

  • Start your meeting by breaking the ice and build rapport by finding some common ground to talk about.

You can look at the background for clues - is there a jersey or an award hanging in the room? Can you hear a dog barking or a child playing?

Do some research to help you out - check out the LinkedIn profiles of the people you are going to have the interview with.

Did you go to the same school or university, or perhaps you had friends who went there? Maybe they did a role that you’ve always been fascinated with and you’re dying to ask how they found it.

It’s also a great idea to conduct a quick Google search of their names too. Perhaps you’ll come across some more gems like a brilliant article they’ve written which gives you a bit more insight and info to leverage.

You can also simply ask how they’ve been through the last months both at work and personally. Times have been and are tough so draw on that to build connection.

  • Take and give the lead

It’s always encouraging to see a candidate show leadership in an interview - just know when to hand it back - it’s a gentle dance.

Be sure to ask them questions and offer up information where it feels right to do so. Here’s how it might sound:

“Now in case you’re wondering how I moved from this role to the other…”

“Why I changed my education from …. to…is….and here’s how it served my career and my expertise and got me to where I am now.”

  • Get them talking!

Engage them, and they’ll be engaged in you. It’s all about reciprocity.

Ask them about their vision for the role or the company, what their personal journey to their role is, how long they’ve worked at the company - you get the drift.

  • Always be prepared for crucial questions

A big one that is in theory very simple but can send you spinning under pressure is the classic, “Tell me about yourself.”

It’s one employers love to kick an interview off with and it’s your chance to get things moving in the right direction off the bat.

Remember you’re not a robot, and we know from how bias works, that people will hire those they like and can see themselves working with - so paint that picture and make it work for you!

Talk about work, and skills and your passion but also talk about some of your interest - or what you get up to when you’re not at work!

My favourite way of saying this is by adding a line: “And when I’m not working, you’ll likely find me at the gym, or at a cafe, or enjoying a nice glass of red with my cat”. Yes, it’s random; cats don’t drink wine after all, but I’ll get a giggle out of the other person, and because of that, and because it was unusual, they’ll remember me for it.

  • Show that you’ve done your research

You’ve put the time in to prepare and do the research so make sure you gently bring it into the conversation. Who doesn’t love an interested, prepared and knowledgeable team member?

Here’s how it might sound:

“From what I understand on your website, you do this…tell me more about...“

“I love what I read about…”

“I saw you were featured on...and I enjoyed….”

  • Ask questions at the end

When it comes time to wrap up and you get asked another old favourite “Do you have any questions?” - your answer should always be “Yes!”

Never pass up an opportunity to engage and show interest.

If all your questions were answered during the interview, have a few back up questions. That would be:

“Tell me more about your culture, what do you love most about what the company does?”

“How do you find working with the team.”

  • Use the rule of success when it comes to sales

After all, if you think an interview isn’t about sales you’re wrong. It’s sales alright, and you’re selling yourself.

So use the golden rule, book a meeting from a meeting. Ask if you’d like them to book you in for a meeting next week. It’s bold sure, but you’ve got nothing to lose and likely your response will be a firm time on when they’ll get back to you.

Remember this is a dance, do it gently and to the tune of the meeting - so you know how to position yourself.

With these tips at the ready, go forth and prepare to knock your next online interview out of the park! I’ll be rooting for you.

Shivani Gopal is the Founder and CEO of The Remarkable Woman; a women’s mentoring and leadership platform. The Remarkable Woman is reopening its doors to their exclusive Signature Membership offer on October 15. Join the waitlist to become a member here.

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