Getting Ready for an Online Interview: 9 Preparation Tips

In today’s labor market, It has become a norm for candidates to be interviewed online. Job seekers do not need to spend time on commutes. They can join an interview from anywhere anytime or even apply for a position far from home and plan to move after a job offer is given. In turn, employees and HR-managers can carry out interviews wherever they are, hire internationally and across time zones.

Remote work format depends on many factors, such as job specifications, individual traits, and HR-manager requirements. However, key steps to success can be outlined to prepare for an online meeting with your future employer.

EasyStaff Chief Marketing Officer Julia Bataltseva has a 10-year experience in HR management. She is sharing her recommendations below.

Step 1. Make sure your gadgets work OK

Before an interview starts, you need to make sure your laptop functions properly. Check your microphone, camera, earphones, and internet connection. Download the required software to join an online call. It can be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Telegram. Consider running a quick test call to make sure the app works and you know how to navigate it.

If you encounter problems with your device, simply let your interviewer know. An understanding HR manager or an employer will understand and reschedule a call.

Step 2. Stay in a convenient place

Although remote work setting allows for flexibility, joining an interview from a bar or a gym changing room may not be the best options. A quiet coffee shop, a work desk in your room or a coworking hall are perfect locations. It is important that a place is well-lit and quiet.

Make sure that the background is not too eye-catchy. At the same time, a sterile room may seem weird. If you are sitting in front of a bookshelf or a framed picture, you don’t need to remove them from the background. However, flamboyant objects should be removed. Keeping things that are in line with a working place is fine, too. A cup of coffee, a pen stand or a small plant are all OK. On the contrary, a glass of wine or a plate with half-finished food on it must not be seen around you. Lastly, virtual backgrounds seem unreal and artificial, so using them is not recommended.

Avoid placing a light source behind you. Otherwise, your face will be poorly seen in the shadows. Take some time before a meeting to plan your background and outfit.

Step 3. Prepare your story beforehand.

Normally employers ask candidates if they know anything about the company or if they checked the website and all. Clearly, you may have read a ton of information about the business or have had multiple interviews with the business already. However, it’s best if you briefly narrate what you know about them. Mention in little detail their mission, vision, values, major projects. This will let you express your interest and prove you a reliable candidate.

It is equally important to prepare a story about yourself. You don’t need to write it down for further reading straight from the paper. Instead, you want to be ready to describe your experience, achievements and skills.

Step 4. Do mock interviews with your family and friends.

If you have time, try running a quick test call with your friend or a family member. Ask them to pretend they are an interviewer, and run an offline or online interview with them.

To look at yourself from a different perspective, try recording your responses. You will have a chance to see what you do best and what you need to work on before the actual interview. When preparing for an interview, some people picture themselves receiving an offer right after a call. This autotraining technique calms your nerves and sets you up for success.

Naturally, not all of us have time and energy to run mock interviews. But such calls often help adjust to the process and boost confidence.

Step 5. Plan your outfit ahead of time.

It is universally accepted that wearing pajamas or a stretched out T-shirt in an interview is strictly prohibited. Your outfit needs to be decided on before the meeting. Also, clean hair and a neat look are crucial in giving the right first impression.

Clothes should match a company’s standards and the position you are aiming at. In many large companies and banks a dress-code is the norm. For IT and creative jobs, outfit requirements are more liberal. Clearly, wearing an entire suit, getting rid of your beard and changing nail colors is not necessary. However, keeping everything neat, tidy and clean is recommended.

Step 6. Plan out your attitude and demeanor.

When speaking to an HR manager or a potential employer, you want to show your confidence. Keeping an eye contact is important even in video calls. Speaking clearly and lively tells the interviewer you are interested and present. Gesturing should be contained and used primarily to highlight your arguments. Overall, the major tip here is to relax and be yourself. If you pretend to be something you are not, it will transpire sooner or later after you join the team.

Step 7. Think through your responses, even to uncomfortable questions.

Prepare short and thought-through responses to questions you might get asked. The priority is a short story about yourself and a list of reasons why you want to work in this company in this role. Consider adding some personal experience to justify your reasons.

Likewise, uncomfortable or awkward questions may be asked, and you need to be prepared. Think of questions like, “What is your super ability?”, “How would you have spent a million dollars?”, “How would you present yourself in three words?”, etc. As for uncomfortable questions, you may look out for something along the lines of: “Your 5 worst qualities”, “The most important decision in your life”, “Your biggest misfortune”, and “Where you see yourself in 5 years”. However, painful or strictly personal details should not be shared with anyone. Yet weaknesses or dubious situations from past workplaces should be honestly told about - and you can add some positive stories to them!

Step 8. Stay kind and respectful throughout the call

Prepare yourself for a conversation, and stay flexible. If you are calling someone from a different place, you may ask them about their location and share a fun fact about where you are. To avoid being typical, you may want to skip stereotypes known about your place or get into politics.

If you want to praise the company or your interviewer, you need to stay in line and not fall for blind flattery. Sometimes interviewees do that because of how nervous they get. It is often taken as an outright tactlessness which is not tolerated. You may express your interest in their article, website or social media providing arguments. If you have somehow worked with the company before, you may share how much yo

Step 9. Prepare questions to ask your employer

Interviews are meetings where both employees and employers assess each other. Prepare a list of questions to ask your prospective employer to show your interest and learn more about the inside of the company. Below is the list of questions to ask to learn as much as possible about the position, the team, the company overall and their expectations of you.

How are teams organized/structured? Who is responsible for task management and workload? Is working overtime a common practice in the company?
Working overtime is not an option for some candidates, especially if they are committed to additional projects or have families. Working overtime needs to be discussed prior to accepting an offer.

What tech stack is used in projects? What tasks will I be responsible for?
Candidates need to understand how much they will need to learn to carry out their tasks properly. If your hardware is not compatible with the software used in the company, you may have to either give up on the position or look for a solution.

How is onboarding facilitated for new hires? Will I be given time and opportunities to learn if my experience is not enough for a task? Is there mentoring in the company?
Mentoring initiatives and paid education opportunities are common today but may not be present in every company. If it is crucial to you, you want to ask about this beforehand.

How is the work process organized in teams?
There is a wide array of work tools, such as sprints, syncs, daily standups, retrospect sessions, etc. Some teams pay a lot of attention to work management processes, and others operate solely on chats on Discord and weekly calls.

Are there any goals for the probation period? How do I know I am finishing my probation period successfully?
A regular probation period is 3 months, although it is made shorter very often. It is important to understand whether it can be done, what is required for it and how assessment works.

What work systems are allowed (offline, remote, hybrid)? Is working remotely from abroad possible? Is transferring to a different branch/office overseas possible?
Many are intrigued by the opportunity to move for work or even get relocated. If your position entails future movement, speak about it to the HR manager right at the interview.

Are any work trips planned? If yes, how often do they happen and how are they compensated for?
You may initiate a conversation about out-of-office events and your willingness (or unwillingness) to travel for work.

How much is the salary? How often is salary/competence/pay raise reviewed? Are there any perks or bonus payments?
It is recommended to stay inquisitive when it comes to discussing salaries and money matters. Some positions suggest a fixed salary, while others provide piece-rates or a fixed fee and a percentage fee. Bonuses and other cash rewards should be discussed separately as they are an additional motivation.

What benefits and incentives are offered to employees?
An office-based work system may provide a gym membership or a meal plan to employees. In turn, remote employees often get language courses or career development courses for free.

Can I meet the team prior to accepting an offer?
Many professionals find it important to meet the team prior to committing to the company. It is natural to want to meet potential teammates in advance.

Does the company offer any form of medical insurance? How are sick leaves paid?
If medical insurance of any volume is offered, then it is a helpful advantage. Even if there is no insurance, sick leaves may happen at one point or another, and learning the rules for them is important.

Are there any team building events?
Getting to know the team in an informal setting should happen both online and offline. 1:1 calls or coffee sessions, games, online and offline meetups are a necessary part of any healthy organizations.

Why is the position on the market now?
Employers usually ask candidates why they are looking for a job and what made them leave their last company. Likewise, candidates may ask similar questions, such as how long the position has been around, what the previous employee was working on and what you are going to meet with.

Is there a chance of achieving a leading management position in future?
As with the past of the company and the position, the future should be discussed, too. The more you learn about the future in a company, the more realistic your expectations are.

You don’t need to ask in verbatim all the questions listed. Your choice should be shaped by your unique conditions. But it is our belief that upon reading this guide and considering the topics, you will be better prepared for your interviews. When speaking to HR managers, remember that you are a confident professional who has every right to ask as many questions as required to be sure the job is THE job.

We’re EasyStaff, a global freelance management platform. Our core features are task management for remote teams, tax invoicing and cross-border payments. If you want to grow your business internationally, stay compliant and save on tax, join EasyStaff now and book your free demo today.


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