Remote Interview Prep

Remote Interviews - Photo by Andrew Neel on

Here are 10 tips that you can use for interviewing remotely.

Ready to get started? Let’s do this!

1. Dress appropriately

Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean it is acceptable to show up in a T-shirt or sweatshirt. Consider what is appropriate for the industry you are interviewing for, and dress accordingly. If you don’t know what that is, then a nice top is appropriate. For gentlemen, that could mean a collared shirt, and if you really want to impress someone, then wearing a suit jacket could help. For ladies, that could be a dress or nice work shirt – but do avoid tank tops and revealing shirts. Please be sure to tame your hair and facial hair, too. 

2. Have a nice background

An interview is not the time to share everything about your personality, which may include your bedroom. At a minimum, find a blank wall, appropriately-decorated section, or even a curtained window. If you absolutely have nowhere to go that is decent, then find some kind of sheet or backdrop to cover up the scenery behind you. Some online platforms allow you to add a background, so please look into that function. If you choose to do so, select a background that is also appropriate and doesn’t scream your personality. You may like Star Wars, but selecting that unique background will only distract from your interview.

3. Use a headset and find a quiet place

A headset helps cut out some of the noise around you, such as you shuffling papers on your desk or the noise of people in other rooms. If you can have a headset with a built-in microphone, that will also allow for better quality. If you are with others in the same location, please ask them to kindly be quiet for the duration of your interview. If you have any pets, do not allow your cat to come wandering and ensure someone else can help take care of a barking dog. If you cannot be at home, I highly recommend going to a library that may allow you to borrow a community room. I do not recommend a coffeeshop or restaurant, unless you can fix the background view and noise. The most important thing is to find a location where you can sit uninterrupted, without any distractions to you as you answer important questions.

4. Turn off phone & laptop notifications

Speaking of distractions – TURN OFF your phone and laptop notifications. The person interviewing you does not want to hear the ping of your social media or email notifications. Also, most of us are programmed to look at our phones every few seconds, so just put your phone away. This goes for Apple watches on your wrist; you’d be surprised how often you actually look at every notification coming in. Turn off the email on your desktop/laptop so that you don’t get distracting notifications during your interview since your eyes will go there right away. Just turn off anything else but your virtual interview platform, take a deep breath, and focus away!

5. Have a good internet connection

I realize that this is something that can sometimes be out of your control. If you know that you have a less-than-stellar internet connection, then it will affect your remote interview with mismatched audio and visual. Think of ways to help speed it up, such as turning off any devices in your home that are always using internet, getting closer to the router, or even connecting to the router the old-fashioned way. This might be a good time to not stream anything that uses up a lot of bandwidth.

6. Keep your focus on the interview

Unless you’re taking notes, be involved in the conversation. Listen when spoken to, and try to maintain some eye contact – even though you will most likely be nervous. On the other hand, not having an in-person interview at some company’s big office building and interviewing from home or other comfortable location might give you a sense of relief… but it’s important to remember that this is an important conversation, and you probably shouldn’t be too casual about it. Being too relaxed may come off as not caring enough about the job, so be sure that your attitude during the remote interview comes off right.

7. Speak clearly and succinctly

Because this interview is being held virtually, it’s even more important to focus on your speed and pronunciation. Speak clearly, pause appropriately to be sure nothing froze and they heard you, and try not to move too much so that it looks like your arms are flailing about on camera.

8. Test your camera and sound

Test in advance what you may look and sound like. Every platform allows you to test your voice and camera, so do that in advance of your interview. (Just in case you have any problems, I would test the day before.) While you’re there, know how to unmute yourself, and be sure the lighting is fine, too. One random tip that I use: I place my laptop on a bunch of puzzle boxes to have the camera at eye-level. (You know me and my puzzles…)

9. “Arrive” on time

Too many times I see people arriving late on virtual calls, and the biggest problems are that they couldn’t find the proper link or it took them some time to load the platform onto their laptop. Whatever you are going to use (Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.), be sure that you know how to log in and start a conversation. I recommend being in your desired location 10 minutes before the interview with everything you need (water, pen, paper, notes, resume, portfolio), and then signing in about 5 minutes before the call. Even if your host isn’t there yet, you can be sure that you are logged in properly and have your camera and video set. 

10. Watch out for time zones

If you’re having a call with someone in a different time zone, you can confirm your exact interview time by going to a site such as This should help clear up any confusion. 

Other interview prep

I wrote more tips about how to prepare for a bilingual interview, including doing your research, preparing questions, and bilingual-related advice in this blog post. Be sure to check it out to supplement the tips in this blog post. 

In conclusion

I know you might be nervous, especially if you’ve never done this before, but you got this! Just remember these key bits of advice, and you will be fine. I am also offering practice interviews, so please click here for details.

頑張ってください ♫ You got this!

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