A phone call or video conference interview is often the exciting first step to finding a job in a new city or with a new company. On top of normal interview jitters, you might be wondering how to make sure you nail the first impression over the phone or computer video screen. Should you prepare differently than for an in-person interview? Yes! Here are a few tips for success in a long distance interview.
1. Make the effort to prepare.
Don’t skimp on interview preparation just because you won’t physically be in front of an interviewer! Keep notes and other preparatory materials handy during the interview, and be sure you’ve put effort into researching the company, have behavioral question responses ready, and prepare your own questions to ask.
2. Ask key questions about the interview platform.
First, ask exactly which technology will be used for the call. This can mean either a phone or video call and you don’t want to be fumbling with Skype at the last minute if you misinterpret this important detail. Clarify if there is a specific video conference platform that will be used and update your apps and/or software accordingly! Tip: You may need to also set up accounts for some of the various platforms ahead of time.
Also, confirm how long the interview is expected to take. Long distance interviews are sometimes meant to be a brief candidate introduction, not a thorough vetting session. If this is the case, be prepared to make the most of this brief first impression!
3. Find a quiet spot to make or receive the call.
Invest time in setting up a spot in your home (or another quiet location) where your computer, phone, resume, and any notes are easily accessible. You might also want a glass of water handy to keep your throat and voice ready for all the chatting!
It might be tempting to set up at the fun coffee shop around the corner, but try to avoid places where you can’t control the environment. Give family or colleagues the heads up that you need to remain undisturbed, and get settled at least ten minutes prior to the start time to clear your mind. Jessy Fofana, our favorite PR guru and founder and President of La Rue PR reminded us to give a long distance interview as much consideration as you would an in person meeting. “The biggest piece of advice I can give is to give it your full attention. Don’t be scrolling through Instagram or multitasking. It’s important to be cognizant of the subtitles and cues in a verbal conversation and that requires listening.”
4. Dress up (and don’t forget to smile).
Acting the part in a long distance interview can be tough because you’re not able to convey the same body language and visual cues as you can in person. Swap out sweats for business dress to help put you in the right frame of mind to project confidence and professionalism.
Remember to put the same positivity and enthusiasm into a phone or Skype interview as you would in person! Studies have shown that people can actually hear you smile, which can help build rapport in a long distance interview situation.
5. Don’t skip the small talk.
This interview format can jumble expectations a bit and shift you out of how you would normally engage with an interviewer. But don’t feel compelled to jump right in to the formal question and answer format—take a few seconds to start with professional pleasantries.
This can be difficult when you don’t have the commonality of a shared office space so, again, be prepared! Even a brief comment about industry news or something relevant to the local scene can help set the right tone for a more relaxed call.
6. Test technology early.
There’s no panic like the heart failure that comes from Skype crashing minutes before an important call! Be sure you’ve taken some time to charge all electronics and make a few test calls to ensure everything is working properly. To really prepare, ask a friend to jump on Skype with you (on the receiving end) to give feedback on how you sound and look.
Are you speaking clearly? Is there an echo from the room you’re in? Stray laundry in the background? Consider everything the interviewer will see and hear in your space. Lastly, don’t do things that make your computer grumpy! For example, if you’re in a video interview, try to limit quick movements and fidgeting to prevent cameras from freezing up.
7. Follow up promptly.
Ensure you make a great first impression by following up promptly as you would with any other interview experience. A quick email to thank your interviewer for the opportunity will help you stand out as a professional candidate. If an administrative officer helped you make the interview arrangements, an email of appreciation to her or him is a nice touch!
Everygirl co-founder Danielle Moss shared what type of follow-up strategy wows her: “Hearing from a potential hire within a few hours of a phone interview lets me know they’re really interested in joining our team. Thanking your interview for their time and letting them know how excited you are about the position, and offering to provide any information should they need it is always a good idea.”
8. Ask to Meet In Person
If you feel like you’ve nailed the long-distance interview, you might consider asking for an opportunity to meet in person. “If you have a visual product or story to tell that won’t come across via tech, an in-person meeting will always relay that character better than a phone call,” says Jessy. “For example, we have a client, Ashley Longshore, who is an amazing artist whose work is stunning and recognizable all on its own, but so much of what informs her art is her funny, bold, over the top personality. She fills up a room with her character and someone like that should always lobby for face time!”