Remote Job Interviews

How are people adapting to the job interview process during quarantine? 

Is it more difficult, less (or more) awkward, easier than IRL? Are there connection issues and does that get in the way of the interview? What's the best interview Zoom background? Any funny / embarrassing Zoom bombs during the interview?

Have you interviewed for a job and been hired? Were you turned down? 

Jul 16, 20 12:36 pm

Great topic.

I've had a couple of phone interviews before all this.  I followed good advice and did some research on each of the folks on the call (I'd been informed of the names beforehand), and actually printed out their photos and some basic bulletpoints on them set out on my desk during the call.  It helped a bit to have some kind of others' "presence" there during the interview.  I had my own CV out, of course, which can be more helpful than you might think-- as a quick abstract of personal history to refer to.

None of this probably transfers to the Zoom experience, where everyone is on camera.  (Or as Jenna Maroney says it, "cah-mah-rah.")

Looking forward to others' insights.

Jul 16, 20 1:46 pm  · 
3  · 

And it occurs to me that 'dressing up' will be an issue on camera --how fancy to get, how far down the bod to go, etcetera.

And background!  Use a virtual image?  What if one of the interviewers hates that building or place?  Stack books by brilliant authors in a "See, I'm smart" stage-set behind you?  So many things to think about.

Jul 16, 20 1:57 pm  · 
atelier nobody

Jacket, tie, no pants...

Jul 16, 20 3:01 pm  · 

thumbs up just for the Jenna reference.

Jul 16, 20 3:04 pm  · 
1  · 

"Please stand up so we can see if you're taking this interview seriously by wearing pants and/or skirt." 

"Uhhhm...  [crackling noise, visible static]  Gee, I seem to be having problems with my camera. Tell me about your benefits package."

Jul 16, 20 3:23 pm  · 

The first digital interview I had, a couple years ago—way before the pandemic we're in—my background was just the blank wall of my living room. I actually took down everything so it would just be a white screen essentially. Interview went really well all the way up to the point that they didn't offer me a job.

Jul 16, 20 5:14 pm  · 
atelier nobody

I haven't personally done one as interviewer or interviewee, but my company has been hiring, so it must be working out for people.

Jul 16, 20 3:00 pm  · 


Jul 16, 20 3:22 pm  · 

I had a phone interview years before all of this WFH stuff happened.  I lived in NY and the firm was in San Francisco.  The interview was solidly just ok.  Both principals seem to have no idea what to ask besides "tell us about yourself" so I rattled off my standard interview questions about what softwares they use, would I be working with a team, if so how many people, what's the day-to-day look like, etc.  They said I came very prepared, and I guess, compared to them, I was.  There was some back and forth where they were just asking each other if the other one had any questions for me. There were some weird glitches in the sound where the principal cut in and out, which caused me to misunderstand one of her answers, and I had to quickly change my response. I got a call back a few months later for an in-person interview, but I had already accepted another job.  About a year later, I found out the firm went out of business so I wasn't too heartbroken about not getting the job.

Jul 16, 20 3:24 pm  · 
1  · 

I've had about 7-8 zoom interviews and offers from 4.

It felt more casual and conversational on my end, usually when I go to in-person interviews I get jittery and nervous (waiting around, awkward interactions). I feel like this way all parties are at least comfortable in their individual spaces. In my experience, I feel zoom allows more space for people to talk freely and to introduce themselves though I'm not sure why that is.

Preparation was more or less the same - do the research, prepare questions. Because it was over zoom, I could do a half screen where I could have the video/portfolio screen share on one side and notes/questions on the other so I was sure never to leave anything important out (clutch when you're interviewing at several firms). Plus with screen share, you really can go through portfolio spreads at your own pace. 

Issues that came up were sometimes net connectivity (or if they don't use zoom...) but its relatively smooth! With in-person interviews you get to see the office environment and sometimes get a tour, not really the case over zoom...

Jul 16, 20 4:01 pm  · 
3  · 
liberty bell

I interviewed a potential firm member yesterday over zoom. It went well and was pretty comfortable; I think we’re all getting more used to this format. But I never even considered asking them to stand up so I could see if they were as nicely dressed below the waist as above! It’s not a fair question, but I think it’s a very funny thing to do LOL.

Jul 16, 20 9:48 pm  · 
2  · 

Had some good remote interviews, some so-so, and some bad ones I guess, but did not land any job or commission remotely this time. Key is always preparation. Working from home with 2 small kids has been the biggest challenge, not while having the interview, but in the prep. Sometimes I just wasn't in the right headspace because of it, didn't have or give myself enough time to prepare. And sometimes technology was not very helpful, bad wifi, screen sharing not working, etc. 

But things have relaxed now where I am, and suddenly everybody wants to meet in the flesh and so had some very good oldskool interviews with new collaborations now lined up, the beginning is awkward without the handshake and stuff but that's just the first 2 minutes. 

In general, I really hate remote interviewing (under these current circumstances), it is too cold and clinical for me, can’t really improvise or respond to body language and can’t really show off all the printed matter and publications or my amazing leather bag in a proper way onscreen.

Jul 17, 20 5:56 am  · 

I prefer interviewing in person, in order to engage with the others more directly, have a strong handshake and eye contact, followed by an interesting conversation to initiate a good professional relationship. 

Generally, interviews are a great experience: the research/preparation ahead, the dressing up, the travel to the office location, the adrenaline rush as you walk in, meeting some accomplished senior people and showcasing your work to them, even answering the tough questions.

In regards to the remote interview, this experience is almost lost. I've had a few remote interviews already and they felt distant, awkard and dry. The worst things however are connection/software issues. In one instance, my presentation started flickering as I was going through some interesting work. As a result, I had to restart the software and the flow was lost. Hopefully, the interviewers were understanding. 

My 3 top tips:

-Tether from your phone during the interview call. Don't rely on wifi.

-Blur your background, unless you are in a very nice room.

-Clear your desktop of icons. That 'll look tidy when sharing your screen.

Jul 17, 20 7:37 am  · 

You make a good point about traveling to the office location. You can only do so much looking around on Google! I do like to see what the neighborhood is like. Is the neighborhood walkable? As a woman, will I feel unsafe walking alone at night from the office to my car? (Is there ample lighting? Is the office in an area with decent foot traffic? Do employees park in a parking garage or a surface lot?) On a lighter note, I also look to see if the office is near a good local coffee place and at least one good local breakfast/lunch spot to take potential clients and meet with consultants and friends.

Jul 20, 20 10:17 am  · 

pretend youre' Chris Cuomo on CNN

Jul 17, 20 12:31 pm  · 

Interviewing process itself has not been any different from pre-COVID times, when relocating for the job. When I moved from SF to NY I had two gotomeetings, got the job, then moved. 

Jul 18, 20 8:51 am  · 
1  · 

Picking up on robhaw's comment above: I've heard more than one person say that handshakes as a way of greeting are basically over.  Personally, I'm fine with this. I'm a big hugger when I see people I like if I haven't seen them in awhile, but the whole handshake protocol has always been awkward *and* unsanitary.

Jul 18, 20 1:45 pm  · 

I've heard the same opinions, Donna. We'll see if it dies out as a custom; I have my doubts, but who knows? Also, I'm not sure that hugging is an easy sell as a more sanitary greeting.

Jul 19, 20 10:45 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

I still do the handshake (even currently) to the GC every time I leave site.

Donna the hugger? well... that's a good super hero name.  I'm french-canadian (tabarnak) so you get a hug and a peck on each cheek.  I still don't know which side gets the first peck.

Jul 20, 20 8:29 am  · 
1  ·  1

whatever you do, make sure you are dressed above as well as below the desk line...

Jul 19, 20 7:50 am  · 

My Tips:

Crank the AC before the interview and then shut it and every fan off. I had an interview where I could barely hear one of the other folks on the line.

Have/put your laptop up on a stack of books or a box at least 4" above the desk so your hands don't pull focus from the conversation as you talk.  This also reduces the desk noise and makes the angle a little more flattering than the typical upward view of the ceiling and what ever is up your nose.

Use a wireless mouse and keyboard.

Have a warm color desk lamp so you don't look pale under the typical laptop LED light that is associated with the built in cameras.

I think a live shot of a room or a window is good but edit the content so that it reflects positively on you.

I hope this helps, Best of luck.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Jul 20, 20 5:52 pm  · 
2  · 

Honestly, most of my interviews post-pandemic were all remote so I don't sense a difference. I guess one thing to note was that one of the firms was very particular about how they set up their camera and framed their view. The office is in a small town, so remote interviews were and still are the norm.

Jul 20, 20 10:43 pm  · 

I had a skype interview a few years was different but I practiced what I wanted to say and recorded myself so I could see if I was fidgeting or moving my hands too much.

I dressed as if I were going for a face to face interview.  Always do your research on previous projects etc.  Make sure the background looks good (remove anything that might look bad in the background, keep to minimal as you don´t want the interviewer to be noticing what´s going on behind you.

My portfolio was a powerpoint that was sent earlier so had already been seen and questions were ready for me to answer them.

I still prefer a face to face as you get a different vibe, body language but this worked as the interviewer was visiting a different area and couldn´t be present.

Jul 22, 20 11:14 am  · 
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