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Preparing for a remote tech interview: 12 tips to help you get the job

June 4th, 2021
To help you succeed in your next remote tech interview we divided this article into 3 sections: the setup and the equipment, the awkward moments, and a bonus tip to help you use remote interviews to your advantage.

Do you get the feeling there’s so much more to prepare for a remote tech interview than it does for an in-person one?

Well, you won’t need to worry about finding the office of the company you’re applying for (at least that!) but to compensate, there’s a world of other things you have to think about. 

Read carefully our 12 tips so you can rock your next remote tech interview!

Prepare the setup and the equipment

There are so many little details to consider before the big day: the light, the wi-fi, your camera and microphone, etc.

So, we decided to summarize them for you in 7 points, to make sure you have the perfect stage to show you're perfect for the job.

1 - Tidy up your room

Would you show up to a job interview in shorts and flip flops?

Maybe for a beach bar job interview. For any other type of interview, you would try to look professional. 

The same goes for your bedroom (or any other place you choose for the remote interview!).

Your background and the clothes you're wearing, while answering the questions of the interviewer, will give the recruiters small clues about who you are. 

Does having a messy room implies your code will also be messy? Well, not necessarily, but while the other person doesn’t have any information about you, they will be attentive to these signs, and unconsciously take conclusions.

So, even if you’re a perfectionist with your work… and more chill with your personal life, give yourself the best chances and make sure that whatever recruiters will see through the camera, besides yourself, will be tidy and clean. 

2 - Remove any distractions

That includes turning off the sound of electronic devices but also the people (your family or your flatmates) you share the house with. Ideally, inform them about the interview and ask them to avoid entering the room.

If you’re expecting an urgent call for the period when the interview is happening, let your interviewer know in advance. If you read our blog post 7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Next Tech Job Interview, then you know how frustrating it is for recruiters when a phone starts ringing and they have to wait while the candidate answers the call.

As regarding pets, if you know your cat is going to constantly pass in front of the screen, then you know it will be a source of distraction. So, if possible, try to make it stay, for a few hours, in another division.

That goes also for dogs, guinea pigs, etc! 🐾

3 - Mind the light and the wi-fi

Light is essential for a successful video call, if natural even better! So when trying to find the perfect place to do your remote tech interview, consider a spot right in front of a window or with a natural source of light coming from a 45-degree angle.

If light is essential, the wi-fi is even more.

Can you find a place in your house with natural lighting AND a good wi-fi connection? Perfect, mission accomplished!

4 - Don’t use your smartphone

If you really have to, remember that it’s not comfortable to hold it for 1 - 2 hours, therefore, you should find a way to keep it at an appropriate height and with enough stability so that you can act naturally (and not constantly afraid to move because your phone may fall and break its screen).

5 - Have a charger nearby

As it would also be annoying if you had to interrupt an interview to pick up the phone, the same goes for finding a charger because your laptop or phone is running out of battery. You know eventually your device will need to be charged, therefore, prepare for it: have a charger next to you.

6 - Download the video call app

You might also need to create an account so don’t wait for the time of the interview to do it! Moreover, having your own alternative app to use in case the first one fails shows proactivity and how much you care about going through the interview process.

7 - Test your camera and microphone

Now it’s testing time: Is your camera placed at the right angle? Is your microphone working properly? Is your wi-fi sign strong enough for a video call?

Test it with a friend and find out before it’s action time!

Prepare for the awkward moments

Job interviews are no simple conversations: they are the first step to get you to your dream job!

Unfortunately, the more you want the job, the more you’ll feel nervous and awkward.

About that, we have good and bad news: the bad news is, technology has a very funny (not funny) way to make things even more awkward. But the good news is, because you’re reading about them now, you will learn how to deal with it and you won’t find it so awkward anymore!💪

8 - Who calls who?

Ladies and gentlemen, the first awkward moment happens even before the start of the interview: the time has arrived, should you start the call?

It does feel kind of rude to start a meeting in which you are not the host, right? 😬

Zoom - one of the most famous video call apps used by companies - was able to solve this issue: if you open the link to the interview and the recruiter is not ready yet, you will be sent to wait in a virtual living room, just like it would happen in a real-life interview!

If your interview is not going to be hosted on Zoom, then just ask the recruiter about who should call who.

What you shouldn’t do is to access the link and indefinitely wait for the recruiter. Maybe the recruiter sent you the wrong link and is waiting for you in another virtual room. Maybe you clicked on the wrong link. So don’t be afraid to friendly announce yourself if the recruiter is taking too long to show up.

9 - Problems with the connection

Unfortunately, even the best connection sometimes fails due to unexpected reasons. If it gets to a point in which there is an extreme delay between what you or the interviewer says, you can suggest turning off the video -  that should minimize the amount of required bandwidth to continue with the interview.

If it’s still not possible to hold a conversation, how about calling the recruiter and using your phone to speak? You can still use the video conference app to share screens if needed.

10 - The background noise

Your remote tech interview is going well, and then the constructors in the building on the other side of the street decided to start working. How lucky. You hear it but you pretend it’s nothing - it’s so far the recruiter probably can’t hear it. Bad news buddy, most likely they can!

What can you do? Pretend it’s nothing will work until the recruiter asks you to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking - and that’s awkward!

Take the initiative! Apologize for the noise and mute yourself when you’re not speaking. But, don’t mute yourself too much and unless you really have to. Because on remote tech interviews you will have to...

11 - Make up for the body language

The biggest disadvantage of remote interviews is that it limits everyone’s body language. To counter that, make sure you nod, smile and make eye contact. If not, the recruiter will keep asking if you’re still there: not moving your face and reacting to what the interviewer says will lead them to believe your internet connection just stopped working.

12 - Make eye contact

We already mention making eye contact as part of the much-needed body language while doing an interview. But this tip is so important we thought it deserved special treatment: not making eye contact while listening to the interviewer and replying to their questions will make you look uninterested, as if you’re doing something else more important than the interview. To make sure that doesn’t happen, place your camera right on the top of your computer screen and test it before the interview!

Bonus: Use remote interviews for your advantage

First of all, and for any part of the recruitment process, you’ll be able to have your notes right next to you.

...what a precious help it will be when you don’t remember the name of the person who is interviewing you. 🤯

Then, at some point in your interview, you’ll be asked to code. At a regular in-person interview, that test would be done most likely on a whiteboard or a piece of paper, but in a remote tech interview, you’ll be working in a shared document or an IDE using your own laptop - an environment you’re already familiar with. Plus, unlike in a piece of paper, you can write then delete, then write again, no need to cross out your failed attempts to start over. 

Finally, you can also use the shared screen functionality to your advantage. 

Why answer a question when you can show it, right? 💡

Remember to prepare any material you would like to share. Such as past projects or your website.

Preparing for a remote tech interview: final thoughts

After reading through our tips to help you prepare for your remote tech interview it’s now time to practice!

There are some platforms (some are free, others you have to pay) where you can rehearsal before D Day comes. You will be provided with remote tech interview questions and a real person to practice with. Check for example Pramp

What can be better than a platform to practice? Hum… how about a real remote tech interview? Who knows, while practising with our recruitment experts you can even find… your dream job? 

Schedule yours in “Apply now”.

Good luck! 🤞

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