The shift to remote work kicked off by the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the employment landscape. Geography is now meaningless. Employers have access to global talent pools while employees can pursue opportunities far beyond the boundaries of their local communities. For both, the shift has meant work can be accomplished withhigher efficiency and less expense.
As employment opportunities have evolved, so have the ways in which employees must connect with those opportunities. To acquire a remote position, applicants typically must go through remote interviews. This new normal has introduced some new challenges, but the foundational steps for winning an interview remain the same.
“Whether an employee will be physically in the office or working remotely, hiring managers are looking for the same skills,” says Michael Gibbs, CEO of Go Cloud Careers. “At a minimum, they want to see that you have the technical competencies that the job requires. Beyond that, they will be looking to see if the applicant is trustworthy, a good communicator, a team player, emotionally intelligent, willing to go above and beyond, and energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about the work.”
Go Cloud Careers trains students in the skills that they need to achieve high-performance cloud computing careers. It has developed a distinctive approach that goes beyond providing technical certifications and proficiency to give its students a thorough knowledge of cloud computing as well as the soft skills, leadership skills, and business acumen they can use to build an elite tech career.
The biggest challenge that applicants face when participating in remote interviews is connecting with all of the important cues in a format that is visually limiting.
“Being in the room with the hiring manager is always the best option,” Gibbs explains. “If it needs to be remote, it is critical that it be video rather than simply an audio call. Seeing the interviewer and allowing him or her to see you will allow you to access all of the important non-verbal cues and to make the best impression.”
Many experts point to reading and interpreting body language as one of the keys to delivering a great interview. While video interviews may only provide you with a view of the hiring manager’s upper body, they can be enough to guide you.
“If as you’re speaking the person is leaning towards you and nodding, keep talking,” Gibbs explains. “That is a strong sign that they like what they are hearing. If, however, they have crossed their arms, they are unhappy with what you have to say. Understanding their body language is essential for steering the interview in a direction that is beneficial to you.”
Taking in the interviewer’s setting can also be a helpful tool for making a positive impression. What items are on the hiring manager’s desk? What picture do they have on the wall behind them? What books and items are on their shelves? Noticing and leveraging these details can help you to connect in a deeper and more memorable way.
“Seeing pictures on the wall or on the desk can be a sign that they are a visual person,” Gibbs says. “In that case, communicate with them in visual terms, saying things like, ‘I see what you mean.’ If you see musical instruments, it could be a sign they are an auditory person. In that case, use auditory language, like, ‘I hear what you are saying.’”
Applicants must realize that interviewers will also be evaluating them through visual cues. To make a strong positive impression, they must be fully prepared. Dress professionally for a remote interview just as you would for an in-person interview. Be punctual, positive, and fully prepared to explain why you are the best candidate for the job.
Experts recommend that interviewees spend time preparing their setting. Minimizing distractions is the key. A simple backdrop will allow the interviewer to focus on you and avoid the risk of triggering any biases. Setting up in a private space where family members and pets won’t interrupt is also helpful.
It is also important to be comfortable with the technology that will be involved. Spend plenty of time ensuring that your camera, microphone, and lighting are working well. Having a backup plan in case technology fails and communicating it to the interviewer in some way can also show that you are the type of person who is well-prepared and a problem solver.
Finally, applicants should stay focused on clearly communicating how they will assist the organization in reaching its goals. Whether the position is remote or in person, the need is the same: organizations want applicants who add value.
“Be prepared to talk about your best strengths and how you can help that organization succeed,” Gibbs encourages. “The key to being successful in the interview is remembering employers have work that needs to be done, which is why they’re interviewing you. If you can show the employer that you have the skills that will help them get to their goals and that you are committed to pursuing those goals, you will win the interview.”