If you’re new to remote working or have decided to take the leap and work from home permanently, learning how to prepare for an interview for a remote job is an important step to winning your dream career.
Even if you’ve been working as a freelancer for a while, the tips in this article may well help distinguish you from the rest, especially if you are in a highly-competitive field or freelance platform.
By the way, if you are looking to change careers or upskill your current career, head over to The Best Online Courses for Remote Jobs and Online Business [coming soon].
With changes in the economic landscape and how businesses have been forced to operate in 2020, job seekers need to adjust to how companies are currently processing job applications. This is great news for those who have been working remotely for a while and is a great opportunity for others who now want to be 100% remote.
Today’s hiring practices are done almost 100% virtually, which means that even the interviews are being done online. Whether you call it an online interview, remote interview, or virtual interview, the exchange will not be face-to-face but, rather, online using a video calling platform.
How to win an interview largely depends on how well you prepare for it. For a virtual interview, there are additional factors to consider such as the platform, your equipment, internet speed, lighting, and even what you wear. (Yes, make sure you’re wearing pants and shoes — webcams can fall or you might need to get up for some reason and you don’t want to be caught with your pants down, see the video later on!) Many things can go wrong, but with advanced preparation, you can avoid such mishaps.
So, let’s break down the action steps according to what you need to do before, during, and after your online interview.
A successful interview starts way before the actual event happens. Here’s how to win an interview before it even starts.
Writing down your goals and creating an outline of your career steps for success can help you focus and stay on track. This includes identifying your strengths and capabilities as well as identifying long-term goals. Penning these items will help instil accountability, and there is a good chance these items will come up during the interview.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #1- Be sure to write down upskill goals as well especially if you are a freelancer. Interviewers like to know that you’re always learning and improving.
You will likely be asked to prove why you are a great fit for the role. Knowing the job criteria and the company culture will help you easily position yourself in a positive light. Also, being knowledgeable about the company allows for comfortable small talk and makes it easy to build a rapport with the interviewer.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #2: Finding out about the company is also a good way to make sure that you’ll be happy there from a company culture perspective. You might have the skills but not “connect” with the people and their beliefs.
If you’re a freelancer, learning as much as possible about a potential client is also important because it will help you figure out if the client will be a good fit for you and if your particular service can be useful for them. For example, if you happen to be a parent and you’re applying for a writing position on a parenting blog, you’ll be able to write articles from experience.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #3: If you’re using a platform like Upwork, check out the client’s reviews from other freelancers to see if there are any issues. Also, use Google to find their social media accounts or websites.
Understanding the company’s environment will also dictate how you should dress for the interview. Make sure your outfit reflects the company’s style. Just because it is a virtual interview, doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you like.
A little effort can go a long way and can help you feel more professional as well. So, for example, if the company adheres to business work attire, you should appear in appropriate business clothing and shoes.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #4: Even if you’re a freelancer, dress appropriately for the interview and for the job. (This is where researching your client comes in handy. If you’re applying to be a writer on parenting, maybe formal business attire won’t quite be a good fit. That being said, if you’re a parent with tiny kids, make sure you don’t have food stains on your clothes!)
Along with your outfit, plan where you are going to take the interview so you can set up in advance. Find a quiet space. Make sure there is adequate lighting and the background is free of clutter. To ensure you capture the interviewer’s full attention, a clean backdrop with minimal décor is ideal.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #5: Check out the video below, to see what we mean about preparing what you’ll wear as well as the venue!
Once you know which platform that will be used for the interview, download it, and take the time to practice using the software. Check your headphone sound, learn how to log in to the platform, and learn the basic functions of the app you are using. This can help avoid awkward blunders while the interview is going on. Knowing how to navigate the platform can also boost your confidence during the interview.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #6: If you can, find out if they have a “plan B” to use if the first platform doesn’t work. Sometimes there might be technical problems and you’ll need to swap platforms. Also, be sure to have a backup set of earphones charged and ready.
Lightly skim your research and practice interview notes. You can also practice saying answers out loud so you will sound more natural and spontaneous during the interview itself.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #7: You could even record yourself and play it back to hear what you sound like.
Asking relevant questions shows your interest in the job, so make sure you have a few good ones prepared. Your questions should centre around the company culture, learning opportunities, and collaborative projects, to show that you are interested in growing with the company. Avoid asking salary-related questions and other sensitive inquiries that may put you in a negative light.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #8: If you’re a freelancer, make sure you prepare the questions you’d like to ask the client too. Sometimes client’s don’t always write a full job description or requirements, and you might need to ask them for more information.
The last thing you want is for the interview to be disrupted by your Facebook or email notifications. So, take some time to turn all of them off.
How to prepare for an interview tip #9: Don’t forget to turn off messaging platforms like Slack or even Upwork. It could be potentially embarrassing if another client’s or employer’s message pops up in the middle of an interview.
If you are using a laptop for the interview, make sure it is fully charged and that you have the cable to keep it plugged in throughout the interview. This is to avoid abrupt disconnections midway due to your computer running out of battery power.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #10: Make sure your cell is charged too just in case the interview needs to move onto your phone for some reason.
Be sure to have a backup internet connection in case something goes wrong with the first one. This is where having a fully charged phone is also useful, you can always swap over to mobile data if needed.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #11: It might be useful to get a backup service provider in any case if you are planning to work from home permanently.
You’re halfway there! Now you just need to focus your energy on conveying the right messages to your interviewer. Here are some things to be mindful of.
Show appreciation and respect to your interviewer by logging in ready and on time. Once you are logged in, try to relax, and avoid doing unnecessary things while you wait for your interviewer.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #12: If the company or client is in a different timezone, make sure you have the correct time and that there’s no daylight saving.
HR personnel can tell a lot by the gestures and facial expressions you make, so be mindful of your movements. You want to convey interest and confidence throughout the interview, so take note of the following:
What to avoid:
What to do:
How to prepare for an interview – tip #13: Position the video calling platform screen directly below your camera so that when you are looking at your interviewer’s face, you are looking at your camera. This will prevent you from looking slightly squinted and strange during your interview — like this guy.
It’s just a conversation, after all! You researched, practised, and prepared for this day, so all you need to do now is have fun. Showing the interviewer that you’re enjoying the discussion creates a great impression of you. It also produces a professional yet friendly atmosphere, which can add points to your application.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #14: This is especially important as a freelancer, it helps you build trust with your client. Plus, if they enjoyed chatting to you, chances are they’ll enjoy working with you.
Now that you have aced the interview, what do you do next?
You did everything you could to win this interview, so now you deserve to relax a little bit. Breathe and take some time to de-stress. Nobody said interviews are easy, so go easy on yourself and chill out.
Send a quick thank you email to the interviewer to show appreciation for their effort and time. A thank you email is not always necessary, but courtesy goes a long way.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #15: This is especially important if you’re a freelancer. Send a message to the client and thank them for their time. Always offer to help them with anything.
Try not to bug your recruiter as soon as the interview is over. Give them time to process your application properly. Generally, it takes recruiters two weeks to review applications. If the time frame is up and you still have not received word, you can send a gentle follow-up. You may either call or send them an email to check on the interview result.
How to prepare for an interview – tip #16: As a freelancer, check in with your client after a couple of days to find out if you can help with anything and if they’ve made a decision to hire you. If they’ve hired someone else, don’t be a jerk and ignore them — thank them for the opportunity and let them know that you’re there if they need assistance or change their minds. Always be courteous and professional.
Whatever the outcome of the interview, take some time to process what transpired. Identify areas you did well in and areas you think you can improve on. Remember that whether you get the job or not, every job application should serve as a learning opportunity. Look at them as stepping-stones or valuable experiences you can learn from.
While it is perfectly natural to feel anxious prior to an online interview, how well you prepared for it will greatly impact the result. Like everything in life, going to a battle unprepared is a surefire way to get defeated.
We hope that the steps and tips above will show you how to prepare for your next interview. If you have found this article to be useful and you’ve successfully navigated an interview because of it (even if you didn’t get the job), let us know. We’d love to hear from you.