Like it or not, long distance interviews have a lot going against them. Employers tend not to like long-distance candidates. But there is a way overcome this disadvantage by acing the long-distance interview.
The same rules apply to long-distance interviews as to in-person interviews. However, it can be more challenging to capture and retain the interviewers attention during a long-distance interview because things gets lost in the transom with video interviews, explains Scott Sette, partner in the Healthcare Services & Solutions Practice Group at DHR International, one of the largest retained executive search firms in the world. Because you are not in the same room, video interviews can lack the energy of in-person interviews. Therefore, the interviewee needs to be conscious of keeping the interviewers attention delivering well-crafted stories and accomplishments in concise and impactful ways.
Here are some tips on just how to ace a long-distance job interview:
Do your homework. With all the Internet tools at our disposal, you should, at a minimum, know some basic information about what the company does, who their major competitors are, and any current news about them. You can get a lot of this information from the companys own website. Further, you should do some investigation about the interviewer. Again, the companys website should have some information (especially if that person is an executive). If not, then search their name on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites. You might be surprised to find out that you have some common ground with the interviewer and that always helps build rapport, suggests Sette.
Create a cheat sheet. One of the advantages of a phone interview is that you can have a cheat sheet with you. Write down facts about the company, job, or interviewer that you want to remember. Youll also want to have answers prepared to standard questions such as Are you willing to travel? Are you willing to relocate? and When can you start?, offers Tom Gilman, managing partner/CEO of Gilman Partners, a retained executive recruiting agency in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Find a quiet spot. The day before the interview youll want to find a quiet, secluded spot for your interview. Find a comfortable chair or sofa so you wont be distracted. If youre taking part in a video conference, make sure the space behind you is uncluttered and not distracting to the interviewer, Gilman says.
Do a tech check. Whether you’re on a phone or using a computer, be sure your technology is fully charged before you go into the interview. What you expect to be a 30-minute discussion might last more than an hour, and you don’t want to be distracted as you fumble for a power cord. Test your equipment (camera, microphone) ahead of time to make sure it works, says Gillman.
Dress properly for the video interview. Think about how your clothing will appear on camera. While it may seem unnecessary, a dress rehearsal to test your outfit on camera may be helpful. Dont wear patterns or white as they dont show up well on the screen. Avoid wearing the same color as your backdrop. Even if the bottom half of your outfit isnt visible on screen, dont let it tempt you into wearing your favorite pair of sweats. Even if your interview is via phone, dressing professionally makes you feel the part, explains Gilman.
Be early. Yes, show up early. Show up to your video10-15 minutes early and send a chat that you are there, you are doing paperwork but available. Keep time, don’t ramble once in interview, don’t abuse time because you feel “at home” at home. You are in a work environment the moment you are on that call, explains psychotherapist Michele M. Paiva, who coaches and provides therapy for long distance interviews.
Listen harder. Since you dont have visual cues to help you during a phone interview, youll need to listen more closely. Pause before answering to make sure the interviewer is done with the question you dont want to talk over her, advises Gilman.
Master eye contact. This may be difficult since you are on video, but it is possible–and necessary. When the interviewer is speaking, look at his or her image on the computer screen. When you are responding, look directly into the camera. Try not to stare at the image of yourself on the screen. If that’s hard for you, cover your image with a small piece of paper, says Gilman.
Connect. The online presence and ease in which you communicate in video says much more about how you communicate in person; you can’t shake hands, you can’t stand tall, but you can give a professional and cordial welcome and sit tall, speak clearly, keep eye contact and keep a general pleasant tone. Be mindful of what your expressions are as you speak AND as you listen. What you lose in some body language you make up with sitting tall without stiffness and expression, advises Paiva.
Get your elevator pitch ready. Be prepared to answer the Tell Me About Yourself Question in a way that will capture the interviewers attention. When asked this question, the interviewer wants to know about who you are professionally. Construct a concise summary of your professional life, highlighted by several quantitative accomplishments to show that you are a results-oriented achiever. Your answer should be no longer than a minute or so. Then, stop talking! If delivered correctly, your opening statement will invite additional questions, says Sette.
Have your own questions at hand. You should always write down a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer. Sometimes, candidates are unsure of what questions they should ask and what they should avoid. Here is the general rule: You can ask anything you want, but avoid asking salary or benefits questions, especially on a first interview. The questions you ask can be as big-picture or as detailed as you want them to be. Some topics could include asking about the company itself, position-specific questions, or inquiring about the interviewers background and career path, notes Sette.
End with bang. This is one of the most important parts of the interview because many people dont do it very well. Therefore, it is another way to differentiate yourself from the other applicants, especially in a long-distance video interview. As the interview is coming to an end, the last thing the interviewer should hear from you is that you want this job. Imparting your sincere interest and passion for the job will leave a positive and lasting impression with the interviewer. Also, inquire about next steps in the process, the timing of those steps, and follow up after the interview with a handwritten thank you note to the interview. These steps will differentiate you and will make you memorable, Sette points out.