Seven Tips on How to Succeed in Remote Interviews
By Selina Zeng and Veeraj Mehta
The Stepping Stone, September 2021
You are waiting in the office to be let into the interviewing room. You mentally prepare your handshake, plaster on a smile and remind yourself to be aware of your body language.
This is how interviews used to be as we prepared for the “big day.” Now we log onto Zoom and hope that our internet connection is stable. Interviewing through a screen is problematic, however it is still very possible to leave a great impression and build a connection with your interviewer.
Maybe you have just received an interview request, or are looking to transition to a new job and wonder how to make the best overall impression in upcoming meetings. Either way, adapting to a remote interviewing environment can be a stressful transition. Therefore, here are seven tips on how to succeed.
1. Mental Preparation
Mental preparation is key to reducing stress, calming your nerves, and boosting your confidence prior to the interview. Set up a clean area for interviewing that you are accustomed to and remove distractions. Drink some water and regulate your breathing to clear your mind so you can head into the interview with the right mindset.
2. Build a Connection Virtually
Remember to smile and start off with a question that allows for a genuine and positive response. An example could be, “What has been the best part of your day so far?” Carry this positive cadence throughout the interview, and it will start to feel more like a conversation. Remember, the more your interview feels like a natural conversation, the easier it will be to form a genuine connection with the interviewer.
3. Market Yourself
Employers want to know how you learn virtually, perform independently and push yourself to become better. These are not always easy on top of the already numerous challenges of remote work. Leverage what you have learnt during your previous internships and roles. Make sure to highlight your strengths and experiences, whether that be learning a new modelling program that demonstrates both your technical skills and your ability to learn, or a project that has made onboarding more efficient. Employers search for well-rounded candidates, so do not be afraid to present all of the strengths you have built up throughout your career.
4. Communication Skills
Working in a virtual environment requires stronger communication skills to replicate what was once an in-person workplace setting. Bringing a positive attitude, being proactive, and effectively listening to others are valuable skills to bring to an online environment. Employers will be evaluating how you communicate and interact with them during the interview to gauge how you will perform remotely.
Even if the employer is planning to bring many workers in-house over time, remote work is likely to be an important long-term component of the work environment. Your ability to show how effectively you interact remotely, and work independently, will demonstrate vital qualities.
5. Embrace your Uniqueness
The job search also involves a variety of factors and is subjective as to how you present yourself in comparison to other applicants. Thus, remember to be yourself and don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique. Tell employers about what you love to do outside of work so that they may get to know you on a more personal level, which will be very helpful given the barriers of not being able to meet in person.
After all, when employers decide whether they want to hire you or not, they not only want an individual who displays an ability to perform the job, but also someone with whom they can enjoy working virtually.
6. Prepare Questions
You will have time during the interview to ask questions, which is your chance to show genuine interest in the company and the specific role. Ask pertinent questions such as how the company navigates remotely, what resources are available to help you succeed from home, and what the expectations of the job would be. It will be a good sign if a back-and-forth conversation forms based on your questions, which demonstrates thoughtful consideration of you for the position.
7. Follow Through
After the interview, be sure to send a thank you to each interviewer. You can email or message through LinkedIn, or even send a snail mail letter, depending on the culture of the company and how quickly you need it to arrive. This will be your opportunity to emphasize your interest in the position and that you look forward to hearing back. Regardless of whether you get the position or not, following through shows your professionalism while also maintaining a connection with your interviewer for future opportunities.
Adapt for the Future
There is a common misconception that as the pandemic comes to a close, and work starts to return back to in-person, then remote interviewing will no longer be needed. However, many employers will continue to hold remote interviews in order to hire top talent without having to restrict the talent pool by location, or even just to save time and expense in the process. Even if the final round is in person, it’s likely you will encounter interim “remote” interviews during the process. Thus, these skills will forever serve a purpose in your career path as you move forward.
Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries, the newsletter editors, or the respective authors’ employers.
Selina Zeng, a fourth year student at the University of Waterloo has experience in P&C underwriting and has previously interned at Foresters Financial in its pricing team. She has also been involved with TEDxUW as a content manager and with the UW Actuarial Science Club. She can be reached at email@example.com. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/selina-zeng/.
Veeraj Mehta, third year student at the University of Waterloo, has previously interned at firms such as Manulife, Swiss Re and Ernst & Young. He has experience in life pricing, modelling and IFRS 17 and is pursuing his actuarial designation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/veerajmehta/.