2020 has changed a lot of things, forcing companies to test their abilities and adapt like never before.
From shifting the office scene with the warm spaces of our homes, the past months have changed the way we look at our jobs. It revolutionised the way we, as recruiters, look at a recruiting process, and the way you, as a job candidate, relate to interviews and work opportunities.
You might have been used to carefully picking your fancy clothes and showing up to in-person interviews and the intense, 5 minutes before the interview waiting in the reception area of the office might be something you won’t forget soon. Yet, today’s job application and recruitment process look slightly different than what we were used to.
After having over 100 remote interviews, we decided to write an article that will get you ready for acing your remote interview with us or the company you wish to apply for.
Research, then apply.
Job searching is a treasure hunt most of the time. You have to move step by step in what can seem to be a long journey. Obviously, the first step in every treasure hunt is to sign up for it. The story is quite similar when you apply for jobs. Let’s say you find a job post that sparks your interest, be it on Facebook, Linkedin or a dedicated job search platform. Make sure that before you apply, you do your research and that you do it well.
Pay attention to the clients of the company you are applying to work for. Are they startups and medium-sized businesses, or enterprise-level companies? Is the company a services company or a product company?
As interests vary from one person to another, research topics may vary as well. Make sure that you check in with every aspect that is important to you, your experience, values and work ethic.
The CV is the window to the soul.
Actually, not quite, but it should be the window to your previous experience so far. If you work as a developer or designer, you might be familiar with the KISS (keep it stupid simple) principle. You can apply it to your CV as well. Make sure that your CV covert technologies you’ve worked with, the kind of projects you worked on — I know that sometimes there are NDAs standing in the way of your fully complete portfolio/CV, but mentioning the industry should be enough.
Any personal projects that you worked on or contests that you participated in could also be included in your resume. I’m sure you’re proud of them; it’s your hard work and dedication, so why not flaunt them?
When it comes to the design of your CV, you don’t have to apply the “go big or go home” strategy. Make sure the design is readable and the timeline has a logical flow (start with your latest jobs first).
If you don’t feel like you have the necessary magic skills to work with Photoshop or Word, you can always add relevant information to your personal Linkedin and then download it as PDF. Also, cool platforms like Canva , Kick Resume and Resume are just a few of the multiple tools that can help you ace the design of your resume with little to no design skill.
Return to the first step — research.
Once you have submitted your CV, a very good idea is to start more in-depth research on the company you are very close to having your interview with. Start with scraping the company’s social media profiles where you can find valuable information about their culture, most important achievements and clients, then move on to the company website. Your first meeting with the recruiter is the perfect moment to address all your questions about the company, so make sure you have a set of questions in hand.
Don’t look at the interview as a police interrogation type of situation. The discussion is there for the recruiter to know you better and understand your experience, but also for you to ask questions and get a better idea of what’s happening inside the company. Every recruiter has an interview guide (structured or not so much), so why don’t you build one for yourself? Ask questions about the team, the projects, the schedule, the next steps in the recruitment process, and any other relevant questions that you can think of. Don’t hesitate to ask for further details and make sure to identify potential deal-breakers.
Here’s a shortlist of questions to get you going:
- Why is this position open?
- What’s the company’s organizational culture like?
- How do you stand by your values?
- Do you have any internal initiatives?
- Why do you like working here?
- How do you show care to your employees?
- What do you do when it comes to employees whose performance is low?
- What are the next steps in the recruitment process?
- What’s the work schedule like?
Prepare the platform that you will be interviewed on.
Make sure to take some time before the interview to ensure that the platform is installed, is working correctly, and there are no connectivity problems. You can also ask a friend to have a meeting on the said platform to make sure that your camera and microphone are working correctly. If there are connectivity issues, have your phone near you in case the recruiter calls and you continue the interview talking on the phone.
Additionally, find a place in your home that is quiet, has good lighting and a clean background.
Sometimes there are things that do not work out the way we expect them to. Do not panic, we work in a challenging environment and we often encounter new situations that we do not know yet how to tackle. I can assure you that we, as recruiters, can understand if your internet connection is faulty, if your cat or dog begs for your attention or if your child is in a desperate need of a hug. We’ve probably been through similar situations ourselves.
What to wear, what to wear?
The stay-at-home context is a tricky one, don’t be fooled by it. You don’t have to put on a three-piece tuxedo, but make sure that you are presentable. A plain T-shirt or a nice shirt is always a nice touch, even if you’re wearing comfy bottoms. Changing from your usual stay-at-home clothes to something more formal might also put you in a different mindset, ready to tackle any challenges you encounter during your interview.
You’re here! The interview is on and the recruiter is asking you questions. Our greatest tip? Be authentic; most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, just different perspectives. Refrain from using self-deprecating remarks. Self-burns are not something you should strive for, and it may make the interview a bit more awkward. Try to frame your bad experiences from previous jobs as learning opportunities and show the recruiter what you’ve got out of them.
One last tip: be human and remember that your recruiter is human too. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous during an interview. The anxiety before the event might lead you to create detailed scenarios inside your head. You’re probably going to have a whole Q&A session with yourself, to make sure that your answers are prepared and polished to a shine. Often, from my experience, candidates are like a vinyl record playing on a pick-up. Once the interview starts, the pin drops and they keep rolling. The first minutes of the interview are the ones that can be used to blow some steam off, to improvise beyond the script that you created in your head and be authentic. Ask the recruiter how they’ve been during this time, how they adapted and if they miss working from the office. Don’t forget that the interview is a conversation. Try to ask “and you?” after you’ve been asked, “How have you been?”.
All in all, a remote interview may be just a little bit better than a classic, offline interview. You can skip over the anxiety that you will be late, or that you can’t find the right meeting room or that your shirt got a little bit wrinkled. Sure, you might be missing some visual cues that are always there in a face-to-face type of situation, but the feeling of safety and assurance from interviewing in your own home might compensate a little for that.
Remember why you want the position in the first place and go for it! If you end up finding out you’re not the right person for the job, don’t worry, the treasure at the end of the hunt will surely be somewhere else.