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4 Ways Candidates Can Prepare for a Remote Interview

online interview

As a candidate, going through the hiring process is naturally a little nerve-wracking. But interviewing when the entire hiring process is moved online can be downright intimidating. 

Job seekers around the globe are no longer going to onsite interviews. Every interview is a remote interview, and candidates are receiving onsite invitations via video platform links instead of a physical address. 

Remote interviews are a new hiring format for most people. As a candidate, it’s ok to be concerned with how this change may affect your chances of landing your dream job. 

But don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from bringing your best self to your interviews. Even though it may feel like the odds are stacked against you, there are steps you can take to put your best foot forward in every remote interview. And HackerRank is here to help. 

Here are 4 ways to prepare for your next remote interview, from HackerRank’s Co-Founder & CEO, Vivek Ravisankar

Ask what the remote interview process will look like

If your recruiter doesn’t communicate what their online interview process will look like, don’t be afraid to ask. “Some companies do this proactively, but a majority don't,” Vivek says. “Ask upfront about the different interview rounds and what you need to prepare for each of them.”

Here are a few basic questions you can ask each company prior to your first remote interview:

  1. How many interview rounds can I expect?
  2. How will your company introduce your culture to me in lieu of me visiting the campus?
  3. Can I expect to receive an offer at the end of this new process if there’s a mutual fit?
  4. How should I prepare for each round of the interview?
  5. Who should I contact in case I experience technical difficulties prior to my online interview?
  6. What is the expected dress code? 
  7. What tools or platforms will I be using during my interview?

Not every company you have a remote interview with will be prepared to answer every question you have. But at the very least, they should be able to provide you with an estimate of the interview length, and a list of the platforms or tools you should familiarize yourself with before your remote interview.

Take extra time to set up your physical interview space

When interviewing remotely, it’s important to take some extra time to think about the set-up of your interview environment. Here are a few interview environment factors you should check before your remote interview:

  • Is there clutter in the background that could distract the interviewer? 
  • Did you close any unnecessary tabs that you could accidentally click during the interview?
  • How stable is your internet connection? Can you hardwire your connection if needed?
  • Are your phone and laptop notifications on mute?
  • Are all your monitors properly set up? Is your camera on the same monitor you’ll be looking at during the interview (to mimic face to face communication)? 
  • Is your camera enabled? If you’re using a browser-based video interview tool, does that browser have camera access?
  • Will you be in a noise-free environment? Do other people in your home know the time and duration of your interview?
  • Are you in a spot you can comfortably stay in for the duration of the r interview?

First impressions still matter. Don’t rush to set up your interview space minutes before your interview, because this can take a toll on your nerves and performance.

“Spending 5-10 mins setting up due to technical issues not only gets the interview off to a bad start, it also lowers your confidence level,” Vivek says. Laying the groundwork to prepare will help put you at ease.

Practice, practice, practice

Just like you would for an onsite interview, spend time preparing yourself to answer common questions and problems. If you’re a developer, you’ll most likely have a role-specific round which assesses your coding skills, and a system design round—so be prepared.  

Here are a couple free resources that will help you sharpen your coding skills:

And don’t forget about soft skills. Spend time reading the company’s mission statement or values, and practice answering any value-related questions. Brush up your soft skills and practice answering common interview questions out loud. This Ted Talk is a great resource for people who want to hone their communication skills.

Bring your confidence

After you ask the right questions, set up a comfortable interview environment, familiarize yourself with the right tools, and spend time prepping, the last thing you need to do is bring your confidence. Interviewing can be stressful, but remember that you made it to the interview round for a reason.

“Remember: they want you as much as you want the job,” Vivek says. The interview is a two-way street: you should feel comfortable evaluating the employer in the same way they’ll evaluate you. Ask clarifying questions, speak and present your work with confidence, and ask for feedback at the end of the interview.

If you don’t receive a job offer, or if you decide it’s not a fit, don’t walk away defeated. Instead, take some time to reflect on the entire experience, identify what areas you can improve on, and start preparing for your next remote interview.

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