Shrink the distance to exercise remote control

Q: I am moving from a ‘bricks and mortar’ working life to a remote one – well, that’s the plan, anyway. I have my first remote job interview next week with a US-based company. I’ve done dozens of job interviews over the years but not only is this the first time I will go for a remote job, it also represents my debut as a video interviewee. The combination is spooking me. Any tips? (AG, email).

A: Ironically I attended a webinar on remote job interviews conducted by Acework ( last week, and this very scenario emerged in the discussion. With a doff of the cap to Acework, and throwing in my own tuppence worth, here are some pieces of guidance that might help you, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

  1. Remember that the person interviewing you is accustomed to this scenario and will almost certainly try to make you feel relaxed. They’re a recruiter working for a remote working company so they spend their days in this very scenario.
  2. Build rapport early. Rapport is not just for the interview itself, it’s for the entire recruitment process. At this stage, you have exchanged emails with the recruiter and may exchange more between now and the interview. In those emails, be warm, personable and human. We develop expectations about people from these kinds of exchanges. Use the recruiter’s name, talk to them about something relevant to where they are living, and perhaps give them a little insight into something happening in your life or in Ireland. Because you won’t get to shake their hand on the day, you’ve to work harder at this point to start the process of building rapport.
  3. Between now and next week, ask if there is anything extra they need, given that this is a remote interview. They will know from your CV that this is your first venture into remote working and should not have any problems with you preparing the ground as well as you can. It’s what a professional does.
  4. Get the technology right. Foostering with headphones and settings is not the look you seek here. So do some trial runs beforehand on Skype, Zoom or whatever medium they are using – enlist a friend or family member to be your guinea pig.
  5. During the interview, remember that you have to work that bit harder in the absence of a physical connection. Don’t just stare blankly at the screen. That’s a real person looking back at you. Pick up on their body language. Gesticulate as you would if you’re sitting across the table from them. Nod when you agree. In many ways, your challenge is to create the feeling of actually being across the table.
  6. At the start of the interview, break the ice by, say, talking about the weather where you are. Invite them to give you a meteorological report from their corner of the world too. If not the weather, something else. Chit chat, get settled. Shrink the distance so that it results in you plus the panel – or panellists – having a real conversation just as you would in a coffee shop. The challenge of any interview is to take away that lofty interview feeling and to build rapport, warmth and professional understanding.
Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.

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