Remote employment will not go away. Accessibility, quickness, and ease are invaluable advantages, but you must put in some effort to master this still-evolving procedure. Here are some strategies to differentiate oneself during virtual interviews, based on the authors’ research.
Most likely, if you’re currently looking for work, you’re conducting remote interviews as well.
There are several significant benefits to this. Due to the lack of traffic jams, you may avoid being late, use notes subtly, and if you live in a rural region, you now have access to the same options as city residents, saving you money.
There are drawbacks as well. Virtual interviews may go tragically wrong when combined with technological issues, such as forgetting you’re unmuted or having a cat filter glued on your face. You are unable to visit actual offices, meet possible coworkers, or really understand the culture of a firm. Not to mention, your rivals have probably grown as well as your prospects now that more individuals have access to more (remote) employment.
We wanted to discover, through our most recent study on remote recruiting, how job prospects might actually stand out during the virtual interview process given these benefits and drawbacks.
We reviewed 513 video recordings of remote interviews done between March and November 2020, with 55% from North and South America and 45% from Europe and Australia. We examined participant involvement (did the candidate establish a connection with the employer? ), interview process data (how long was the interview? ), interview aesthetics (what backdrop did the candidate and the interviewer use? ), and recruiter and participant comments.
The majority (almost 80%) of the 72% of job seekers we witnessed who did not receive offers seemed disinterested, failed to engage their recruiter in a meaningful way, or appeared to be reading from a script. Simply put, they had weak interviewing abilities, which prevented them from making an impact. Candidates who, on the other hand, had a strong online presence, exuded confidence, were able to speak effectively, and were able to naturally connect with interviewers, were considerably more successful. In reality, the majority (almost 90%) of the 28% of participants who did obtain employment offers stood out because they grasped the advice provided below.
Here are four strategies you may take, based on our data, to convert your subsequent online interview into a job offer.
1) Prepare your area.
You may do your interview while dressed in professional attire on top and loungewear on bottom. However, you must still manage how your appearance seems to be on a 9 by 16 screen. There will essentially be less chances to bring your originality and feelings into the discourse. To make a powerful and enduring impression, you must make advantage of your surroundings and your physical area.
Have a clear, uncluttered background: We’re not suggesting that you start moving furniture about in your space. Just choose a place that is uncomplicated and distraction-free (like a blank wall or one that has a few pictures hanging on it). Too much stuff in your backdrop will divert recruiters’ focus from you. Even better than setting yourself up in front of a disorganised bookcase is the option of using a straightforward virtual backdrop. In contrast to prior study, we discovered that applicants with a tidy background were less likely to exhibit unconscious prejudices. In contrast to beaches, mountains, or outer space, 97% of the recruiters we spoke with preferred virtual backdrops of office environments.
Examine your lighting: You want potential employers to see you in the best possible light, both metaphorically and practically. Light yourself from the front throughout your call. The recruiter will spend more time attempting to see you if your light source is behind you than than listening to what you have to say since you’ll become a shadowy figure. If you have a desk lamp, face it so that others can see you well. Instead of warm light, try to utilise chilly light. A contemporary, clean, and brighter appearance is emitted by cool light, which was preferred by 95% of the recruiters we spoke with.
Test your speed: Communication is hampered by bad internet. Ask family members or housemates to log out while you’re in your interview to make sure your internet is operating at its fastest possible speed. Connect with your local area network (LAN) cable if you don’t trust your WiFi. You can also check your connection by typing “Internet speed test” into the search bar on Google. The importance of this cannot be overstated; 88 percent of recruiters informed us that their biggest pet peeve during an interview is an internet latency since it disrupts the dialogue.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that you should test upload speed rather than download speed as you are “uploading” your movie.
2) Be ready for the unforeseen.
Virtual interviews, in contrast to conventional face-to-face interviews, can be performed from the convenience of your home. Despite the comfortable surroundings, you could still run into some unexpected circumstances.
Recognize the platform: Become an authority on the platform that will be used for your interview (WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc). Download the interface if you’ve never used it before, then practise using the features by simulating calls with a friend or family member. In 41% of the interviews we looked at, technological failures occurred. In one interview, the applicant spent the entire time looking upside down since they couldn’t figure out how the camera worked. Candidates provided interviewers with shortcuts for video calls in 22% of successful interviews.
Keep notes close at hand, but don’t use them too frequently: Recruiters frequently inquire about a candidate’s most noteworthy work during job interviews. Don’t let this make you nervous right now. Make a list of projects you wish to share in a printer or Word document with clear, bulleted points. Sort your work into two or three categories, such as achievements, research, and volunteer work.
We advise keeping notes to one page maximum. 42 percent of those who applied for jobs but were rejected gave off the impression that they were overwhelmed by their notes. They either continually glanced down at their workstations or skimmed through paperwork on their laptops. The idea is to only sometimes resort to your notes. Use them simply to review concepts you’ve already covered in practise.
Remain composed. It’s normal to ask your recruiter for a minute to collect yourself if you begin to feel anxious or overburdened at any time throughout the conversation. You may ask, “May I have a moment to consider this and respond?” Employers will respect your ability to remain composed under pressure as opposed to stumbling. This was a significant determining factor in 72% of the observed interviews.
Pro tip: Use strong headers to mark each point you wish to make in your notes and write them on three or four flashcards. They won’t draw your attention away from other things, and you won’t have to browse through a 300-word page.
When you meet someone face-to-face, it’s simpler to pick up on crucial indications from their facial expressions, gestures, body language, or tone. These, however, are frequently misplaced or more challenging to retrieve remotely.
Watch your speed: Don’t speak so slowly that your recruiter nods off or too quickly that they struggle to follow you. According to our study, the optimal speech rate is 115 words per minute (wpm) (the average for audiobooks and TED Talks are 150 and 173 respectively).
The total number of words you speak divided by the amount of minutes it takes you to utter each word gives you your speaking rate. Record yourself speaking for a few minutes to get the most out of your speaking practise. After that, utilise a speech-to-text converter to translate your audio clip into text, such as IBM’s speech-to-text tool. Use the word count feature in Microsoft Word or an online word counting tool to figure out how many words are in your transcription. Subtract the number of words from the number of minutes in your original recording. If, for instance, your word count is 500 words and speaking those words aloud takes you three minutes, you would divide 500 by three to arrive at a wpm of 166. It will be simpler to practise speaking faster or slower based on the number you received if you are aware of the tempo at which you talk.
We discovered that applicants who were anxious spoke more quickly (upwards of 140 wpm), making recruiters agitated and interrupting candidates 38 percent of the time to encourage them to calm down. You may improve your connection with your interviewer by speaking at a constant rate and pausing before crucial parts. This can also make you seem more confident, even if you’re actually feeling apprehensive.
Use hand movements: In our survey, 89% of successful applicants made wide hand gestures to convey important and thrilling themes, while moving their hands closer to their hearts to convey reflective personal statements. What you say and how you come across may both be affected by your body language. Additionally, our study revealed that you may establish a connection with your interviewer just by maintaining an open stance and remembering not to cross your arms. People are more inclined to believe the facts you share when they have a connection with you.
In your webcam, focus on yourself rather than your reflection. Our findings is in line with other studies that determined that initiating eye contact with your recruiter is the first step to establishing trust since “eyes play a fundamental role in human social encounters.” We discovered that 79% of failed applicants performed poorly in this area. We advise positioning yourself such that you are not too far from the camera (we suggest no more than two feet). As you’ve heard before, look at the camera while you talk. Make sure your head and top of your shoulders are the dominant parts of the screen.
In order to avoid being tempted to glance at oneself while speaking, turn off video mirroring.
4) Initiate conversations rather than provide a monologue.
The monotony of Zoom calls is worse than that of face-to-face meetings. Maintaining a vibrant discussion will be your biggest problem throughout the interview itself.
Take an interest: In our analysis, 89% of the hired applicants had natural, open conversations with their recruiters. How? By posing inquiries, they demonstrated a sincere interest in their interviewer. According to our study, some of the most interesting inquiries were: “How does the team now communicate? What resources do you employ to work together? How can remote work be monitored? Does the workplace host a virtual happy hour on Fridays where I might meet new coworkers? Questions like “Where is the firm based?” and “What awards have you lately received” were some of the less interesting ones that were asked.
Discover your shared interests by doing some research before to the interview. Most businesses will let you know in advance who you will be meeting with. This indicates that you can Google them and should probably do so. Investigate the types of articles they publish or share on LinkedIn, the organisations they belong to, the conferences they spoke at, and the volunteer activities they perform. When the discourse stalls, inquire with them over these matters. Eighty-one percent of the unsuccessful applicants we saw struggled to fill silence, failed to pick up on social cues, and answered questions in a monologue-like fashion without even looking at the interviewer, which eventually bored their interviewers.
Pose inquiries. In an interview, you always have the chance to inquire about the workplace and the culture, but when you do a remote interview, you’ll have even more questions (what the office and facilities are like, how big and diverse the team is, how the company culture feels, etc.). Ask about whatever you wish to know. You won’t appear foolish, so don’t worry. The hiring manager will value your interest.
However, don’t limit your inquiries to the workplace and your perks. We advise you to inquire about the type of technology you’ll have access to when working remotely, if you’d be joining a hybrid team, or how the company defines success. 85 percent of hired applicants used these kind of inquiries to show off their beliefs and priorities while divulging key aspects of their personalities. You may inquire, “Do you have a flexible work policy, for instance?” “I’ve been volunteering as an English instructor for underprivileged groups twice a week and it would be nice to be able to continue doing that,” you should say after your inquiry.
Pro Tip: Your interviewer is certainly bored if they show signs of it, such flipping through their notes or fidgeting. Before you lose their interest, complete your response. And never forget to add individuality to your responses’ bookends!
Remote recruiting is a permanent trend, for better or worse. While this has several advantages that cannot be matched, you must put in some effort to master this still-evolving procedure. Keep in mind that while pants are optional, poor delivery is not.