Pic: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
If you’re currently preparing for a remote job interview, you may be feeling concerned that it could be more difficult for you to assess whether the opportunity is the right one for you.
After all, when interviewing remotely, you won’t have the opportunity to meet the people you’ll be working with face-to-face, visit the organisation’s offices and generally get a feel for the place.
But it is possible to judge whether an opportunity is right for you when interviewing remotely, as I will explain in this blog. Useful techniques include: reviewing the organisation’s online presence prior to the interview, asking the interviewer the right questions and reading their body language.
Is this job a good fit for me?
Regardless of whether you’re interviewing remotely or face-to-face, there’s always a lot to think about when judging whether an opportunity really is the right one for you, such as:
Is the role aligned to your skillset and future career goals and aspirations?
Do the salary and benefits on offer make this a financially viable choice for you?
Where will the role be based, and will there be opportunities for you to work flexibly should you need to?
Are there learning and development opportunities available which will allow you to further develop your career?
Are you genuinely interested in the organisation’s products and services, and does their purpose compel you?
Is the organisation’s culture appealing to you? Will you feel included, valued and engaged?
Do you think you’ll have a good, supportive relationship with your new team and boss?
Of course, all of these things are incredibly important. But, when it comes down to it, you’ll often get a gut feeling. Your intuition will help you decide whether the opportunity is the right one for you. And it’s much easier for that instinct to kick in when you’re interviewing face-to-face.
Interviewing remotely? Six ways to determine whether the opportunity is right for you
So, how can you decide if an opportunity really is the right one for you when interviewing remotely? Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. Before your remote job interview, do your research
Analyse the language used in the organisation’s job adverts. What can it tell you about what it might be like to work there? Is the language they use inclusive, accessible and relaxed? Do they write in the first or second person? Do they use diverse imagery and language? Are the role responsibilities clear, focused and succinct? Reading between the lines of job descriptions can really help you build a clearer picture of the opportunity than what you might realise.
It’s also essential that you review the organisation’s website, finding out more about their vision and purpose to see how well they align with your values – just as you would do before a face-to-face interview. Visit their YouTube channel too; many organisations will create videos that will give prospective employees an idea of what it might be like to work there.
Other techniques you can use to help you build a picture of the organisation as an employer is to read their Glassdoor reviews, as well as search Google News for any recent news coverage. Aside from scrolling through their social media channels, it’s also a great idea to research current employees on LinkedIn – their activity may give you clues into their company culture.
If your recruiter or the hiring manager sends you any company material – whether that’s blogs, reports, or any key documents – ahead of your remote interview, be sure to read them. This will help to give you an insight into what the organisation’s priorities and key focuses are. For example, perhaps they’ve recently published a new commitment to diversity and inclusion? Or published a new report on the state of the industry? These pieces of information can also often be found on their website, so make sure you check there for any significant company updates whilst you’re exploring their vision and purpose.
2. Assess the organisation’s culture during your remote interview
The employer might offer you a virtual office tour, for instance, or provide you with short videos that employees have recorded about their role, expertise or experience of working at the organisation. You may even have the opportunity during your interview to have virtual introductory meetings with team members. If these aren’t immediately available or apparent to you during the interview process, ask your recruiter if they are. All of this will help you to get a glimpse into the organisation’s culture, and to better understand what it would be like to work in that office, with that team, on those projects – and assess whether all of that would suit you.
Also keep a lookout during your remote job interview for any other clues as to the company culture. As communication and behaviour expert Mark Bowden explains: “How we live and the objects we keep around us are a big unconscious indicator to others of what you value and therefore the values you hold.” Is there anything about the interviewer’s background or environment on the video call that indicates what it would be like to work there? Or anything that gives you a feel for what it would be like to have that person as your manager? If they’re in the office, what is the design and branding like? Or perhaps they’re at home where you can see and hear their children – demonstrating their flexible and relaxed approach.
3. Ask the interviewer the right questions
Remember that all interviews, regardless of whether they are conducted face-to-face, or remotely, are a two-way process. They don’t just give the interviewer the chance to find out more about your suitability for the role, but they also give you the chance to assess the role’s suitability for you. Therefore, the questions you ask the interviewer and the answers they give, especially during a remote interview, can be extremely valuable in helping you to decide whether this is the right opportunity for you or not.
There are certain questions about the role, team, interviewer, company and learning and development opportunities that will give you a better idea of what it would be like to work there. Chris Dottie, Hays Spain Managing Director, has outlined some great examples of questions to ask your interviewer in this blog, some of which include:
“What does a typical day in this role look like?”
“What constitutes success?”
“From your perspective, what’s it like to work here?”
It’s also worth thinking about whether you’d like to ask the interviewer questions surrounding COVID-19, such as “What have been your key learns from the COVID-19 crisis so far, both from a business and a leadership point of view?”, and “What support could I expect to receive when working remotely or from home or as part of a hybrid team?” These questions can help you to understand how the organisation is operating during the crisis; what their reaction has been, and if you would’ve been proud to work for them throughout any changes and shifts due to the pandemic.
The answers that the interviewer gives to your questions will help you understand your likely level of cultural fit at this organisation. If you’re told, for example, that they are a ‘results-driven’ organisation, does that mean you could be punished if you miss a deadline or target, or even make a mistake?
4. If you are being interviewed by the hiring manager, use the remote interview to understand whether they would be the right boss for you
You need to have confidence in your new boss – your relationship with them will be as important a factor as the job itself, if not more so. It’s fortunate, then, that even a remote job interview still presents plenty of opportunity to suss them out.
During the interview, analyse your potential manager’s communication skills. As your interview progresses, assess their clarity of thought, how they communicate their expectations for the role and for the successful candidate, and whether they seem to be listening to you. This will give you an idea of what it would be like to work with them. Do you think this communication style would suit you and help you to form a strong relationship? Be mindful, too, of the language used when your questions are answered, and throughout the interview. If they use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ when speaking, that could suggest a non-collaborative approach.
Also assess whether the interview feels more like a conversation than an interrogation. If it feels natural and almost effortless, and the two of you seem to share many of the same motivations and values when it comes to your career and the workplace, then these are signs that you would get on well.
President of Hays Canada, Travis O’Rourke, has also written on this subject, adding that you should consider what this person could teach you if they were your new boss. Ask about their career so far – have they had a lot of experience that you think you will be able to learn from? Are they passionate about their job and the company? If so, it’s likely it’s a very positive and encouraging environment to work in.
5. Read the interviewer’s body language
While this is not as easy to do remotely as it would be in a face-to-face interview, it is still possible. After all, you can see whether or not the interviewer is smiling while you’re speaking, as well as what their posture is like, and whether their arms are crossed or open. The interviewer’s gestures and vocal pitch can also tell you a lot about how invested they are in you as a candidate.
In fact, communication expert Mark Bowden shared some really valuable advice with me on reading your interviewer’s body language: “Watch for big CHANGES in body language when you are speaking to the interviewer, rather than individual gestures. If you see anything that stands out as very different in the interviewer’s posture, face, movement, or behaviour, then ask them what their thoughts are on what you have been saying. This helps you check in on the significance from their perspective of what you are saying. It may give you a good opportunity to better understand how well your ideas, views, or even personality fit with theirs as well as that of the organisation.”
I recommend having a look at Mark’s YouTube channel. His videos will allow you to learn more about not only how to interpret your interviewer’s body language, but also how to improve the effectiveness of your own use of your body in a video interview. For example, this video on how to present yourself effectively via video from home, covering tips such as ensuring the space is well-lit and placing a post-it note of a smiley face above the camera, which will encourage you to smile during your video job interview.
6. Reflect on the experience you’ve had throughout the interview process
Assess how your interview process, from start to finish, has been handled. Does the company appear to be well-organised? Are you, as a candidate, at the centre of the process? Has communication and feedback been prompt and detailed? All of these things, paired with your knowledge and experience of the company to date, are signals as to the company culture, and whether it’s the right opportunity for you.
Just because your interview is taking place remotely, that doesn’t mean you can’t find all the information you need to decide whether or not this is the right opportunity for you. By following the six steps above, I hope you’ve realised that.
If you are ready to take the next step in your career journey take a look at our job listings and other career advice.