6 Tips for Acing Virtual Interviews in the Age of Remote Work

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As a freelancer, finding new work is an ongoing process. Even if you have the best portfolio, excellent reviews, and great experience, you’ll often find that clients want to interview you before they engage your services. 

While Covid may have largely come to an end, virtual interviews are ongoing. As a freelancer, this gives you a huge advantage. A prospective client can interview you at any time, from anywhere in the world, and this type of interaction is no longer the exception to the norm.

But remote interviews can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to them. That’s why we’ve provided six tips to help you ace every one:

  1. Treat your virtual interview like a real interview
  2. Research your interviewer and their company or brand beforehand
  3. Prioritize eye contact and body language
  4. Be prepared for questions and challenges
  5. Focus on concise responses that highlight your strengths
  6. Be authentic and engaged

In addition to these tips, we’ve also covered basic etiquette, the top online communication tools for virtual interviews, and what to do once your meeting concludes. 

Read on to gain all the knowledge and tools you need to ace your next virtual interview and secure the remote job you truly want.

The Importance of Knowing How to Ace Virtual Interviews

Remote work has never been more popular or as easy to find. Whether you’re seeking new freelance clients, expanding your options for gig work, or looking for new career opportunities, interviewing remotely may form part of the process. 

Virtual interviews offer a range of benefits, including ease of access, timesaving, no need for transportation, and allowing you to reference your notes if you need to. These interviews also remove geographical boundaries, allowing you to work with or for businesses located anywhere in the world. 

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential disadvantages too. 

A quick web search will yield hundreds of stories about virtual interviews gone wrong, from technical issues to stuck filters and accidental breaches of privacy. They also don’t give you an opportunity to meet the people you’ll be working with and to observe what their workplace culture is like.

Moreover, the growing demand for freelancers and remote work means that you may be facing a notable number of competitors for each opportunity you’re interested in.

Knowing how to offer a great first impression through a virtual interview is the key to improving your chances of securing freelance work opportunities. 

Researchers from Harvard Business Review have explored this topic in-depth, watching 513 video recordings of global remote interviews across South and North America, Australia and Europe, which took place between March and November 2020. 

HBR found that out of the 72% of candidates who were not offered the jobs they applied for, around 80% seemed distracted, didn’t engage their recruiters in meaningful ways, or gave answers that appeared scripted. 

Conversely, the candidates who showed confidence, engaged their recruiters, communicated with clarity, and established a genuine connection were significantly more successful. 

HBR researchers noted that of the 28% of participants who were offered positions, over 90% stood out due to the factors listed above. 

6 Key Tips for Your Next Virtual Interview

  1. Treat Your Virtual Interview Like a Real Interview

Some of the many perks of freelancing and remote work include being able to work in a more casual environment, not needing to adhere to a dress code, and performing tasks in the comfort of your home. 

However, it’s important to remember that you should treat your virtual interview just like a real interview. Basic interview etiquette still applies, even when interviewing or working remotely.

This means that you should still dress smartly for a virtual interview (business casual or business attire is best), maintain eye contact, and conduct your meeting in a quiet, clean, neat, and uninterrupted space. 

When you are on a video call with interviewers, hold eye contact by looking into your camera rather than looking at your computer screen. Giving interviewers your full attention is crucial too. Put your phone on silent and leave, checking emails and other tasks until the meeting is over. 

Simple strategies like these can go a long way in leaving a good impression and establishing yourself as respectable and professional.

  1. Research Your Interviewer and Their Company or Brand Beforehand

Research is an important part of any in-person interview, and the same applies to virtual interviews. 

If you want to stand out, research your interviewer, their company, and their brand before your interview. 

This research will give you a clearer understanding of many aspects of the organization, including how you will fit into the picture with whatever work you’re doing or the role you’ll fill. 

It may also assist you in answering your interviewer’s questions with meaningful and knowledgeable responses. 

You’re welcome to take notes of any relevant information that you find and to refer to these notes during your interviews. However, try to keep this to a minimum to avoid seeming distracted.

  1. Prioritize Eye Contact and Body Language

Even the most experienced freelancer may experience anxiety or nerves before an interview. This is perfectly normal. But it’s important to prioritize eye contact and display calm, confident body language for the best results. 

Many people choose to practice virtual interviews with friends or family before they take place, taking care to identify and convey the right facial expressions and body language. 

Your interviewers will focus on your body language to assess your personality and demeanor. Using nervous or fearful body language during interviews could suggest that you lack confidence in your abilities.

Remember to speak in a calm, clear, and level tone during virtual interviews and refrain from using overly casual language and slang terms—or profanity!

  1. Be Prepared for Questions and Challenges

Just like in an in-person interview, your virtual interviewer will expect you to speak in depth about why you’re eager to work with them and the value you can provide. Prepare for questions like these to ensure that you minimize the risk of encountering challenges during your interviews. 

Most experts recommend practicing your responses to commonly asked interview questions, as this will make you feel much more comfortable during the interview itself. 

We also recommend compiling a list of questions that you would like to ask your interviewers. This will demonstrate your interest in the organization and the project you’ll be working on. 

Some of the most commonly asked interview questions to prepare for include:

  • Tell me more about yourself and how you’re qualified to take on this project/work?
  • What are your primary motivations?
  • Why are you interested in the advertised freelance work?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • Could you speak about a challenge you’ve previously encountered and how you handled it?
  • How do you go about handling conflict?
  • How do you perform under pressure?
  • What can you bring to our business/organization?
  1. Focus on Concise Responses that Highlight Your Strengths

One of the purposes of a virtual interview is to give you an opportunity to highlight your strengths and abilities. 

The best way to do this is to provide your interviewer with concise, intelligent responses to their questions. Additionally, explaining exactly how you’ve used your skills and abilities to solve challenges and secure positive results in the past will highlight your potential.

You can use the STAR method or a similar tool to prepare for situational interview questions. 

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.  

This framework helps to structure your answers in a way that positions you as the ideal fit for the job. It also enables you to prepare concise and informative responses using real-world examples of your actions and experiences.

Prepare an answer using the STAR framework by starting with a description of a relevant situation to the one your interviewer is asking about.

Next, speak about your task; the role required of you in the aforementioned situation and the challenges you encountered. Describe your actions taken to address the situation or overcome the challenge, and explain the results you achieved through your actions.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a gig as a bookkeeper in an events company, outline how you’ve addressed past situations that required handling a variety of different accounts and payments to vendors, part-time and full-time employees, and other stakeholders.   

  1. Be Authentic and Engaged

Most interviewers are eager to hear concise, honest, and knowledgeable answers. 

Your responses to their questions should highlight your strengths, expertise, and abilities without coming across as overly arrogant or self-promotional. 

It’s a good idea to highlight your qualifications too. Whether you hold a degree or diploma in your industry or have attended hospitality or bar school, remind your interviewer of your expertise and how it benefits them.

As a freelancer, there is a fine line between being authentic in your self-promotion and being overly boastful, but the best way to achieve this is to allow your personality to shine through. 

Doing so gives your interviewer insight into who you are and how your services can benefit them, while concise and intelligent responses show that you’re well-prepared not only for the interview but for the job as well. 

 

Use soft skills like clear communication, adaptability, and interpersonal skills to provide insights that paint you as optimistic, dedicated, informed, and confident. 

Remember to ask your interviewer a few questions about themselves, as this is an effective way to create a connection. Keep small talk lighthearted, appropriate, and free from overly personal questions and statements. 

Basic Virtual Interview Etiquette

Prepare upfront:

The first and most important virtual interview etiquette is to enter interviews prepared. 

You should always thoroughly research the company, its products and services, its achievements and mission, and the greater industry up front. Doing so will make it easier to discuss them comfortably during an interview. 

This will also help you to determine where the skills you’re offering will be put to use. 

If you’re a freelance web developer, evaluate their website. If you’re offering social media services, do a  quick audit of their online presence. Or, if you’re a content writer, ensure you know exactly what they do and who their audience is.

Do some research on your interviewer, too, as this will make it easier to connect with them in a meaningful way. It also shows that you’re genuinely interested in what they do and that you’d like to be part of it.

Do tech checks:

If you’re using a laptop for your virtual interview, take time before the interview begins to charge it fully and perform software updates as needed. Make sure that your internet connection is stable, and turn off any devices that might distract you or impact your WiFi connection during your call. 

We also recommend testing your audio equipment before your interview starts to lower the risk of technical issues. 

Create the right environment:

Even if you don’t have a home office, you can create a professional environment where the interview can take place. Use a simple, professional virtual background or a clean and non-distracting physical background during interviews. 

Position yourself in a quiet, brightly lit room, and remember to let your family members or roommates know that you’re interviewing ahead of time. 

Manage your time:

Time management is a crucial skill for freelancers, and you need to demonstrate this as much as possible.

Be ready to start at least 10 minutes before your scheduled time. If you’re unavoidably running late, contact your interviewer as soon as you can to let them know. Or, if you need to postpone your interview, advise them of this well before the time and propose alternative options.

Create a professional impression:

Avoid being overly casual during remote work interviews. Dress in a neat, professional way, and conduct all of your interviews in a clean, quiet, and uncluttered room with minimal distractions. 

You’re welcome to make small talk with your interviewee. But keep it to a minimum and focus the majority of your time on offering concise answers and evidence of your professional experience.

By providing examples to your interviewer of how you can use past experience and current knowledge and skills to benefit their organization, they’ll see you as a good fit. 

Ask questions:

Ask for clarity if you need it. 

If you haven’t understood a question during an interview, let your interviewer know and ask for clarification to ensure that you provide them with the right information. 

It’s also best practice to ask your interviewer questions to ensure that you completely understand the work required.

Express gratitude for the opportunity:

Once your interview is over, thank your interviewer for their time and their consideration, and ask questions about the next steps in the process. 

Interviewers always appreciate receiving a follow-up thank you email as it reinforces that you’re grateful for the interaction and potential opportunity.

The Best Online Communication Tools for Virtual Interviews

The best online communication tools for virtual interviews are the platforms that you can rely on to deliver a user-friendly and consistent experience. 

Your tool should ideally allow you to hear and see your interviewer during video calls and share your screen with other participants as needed. 

Platforms like Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are all great options for virtual interviews, as all of these options are secure, widely used, and simple to navigate.

Collaborative whiteboard and document tools like Mural, Miro, and Google Docs are becoming popular choices during virtual interviews too. These tools allow you to create, share and edit documents and boards in real-time, making them good choices for brainstorming sessions and presentations.

Regardless of which communication tool you choose, remember to test it before your interview starts to ensure that it works as expected. Additionally, it’s helpful to have a pre-selected backup communication platform in case technical issues do arise.

Steps to Take After an Interview

The steps you take following your virtual interview can play an integral role in your success. 

Our first recommendation is to always send a personalized thank you note to your interviewer, which can include any information that you presented to them during your interview itself. 

It’s best to send out your thank you emails as soon as possible following your interview to keep yourself fresh in your prospective employers’ minds. 

Once you have thanked your interviewer, give them at least 14 business days or longer to make a decision. 

Often, they need to interview other freelancers or consider what you have to offer their business. They may also need time to draw up contracts and briefs or to determine whether you’re the right fit to collaborate with their team.

Give them sufficient time to make a decision and let you know. If you make contact and they have not made their decision yet, accept this graciously and allow them to contact you with any updates they may have to share.

Become A Virtual Interview Pro

Virtual interviews are similar to in-person interview processes in many ways. 

When you’re interviewing for a freelance job on a virtual platform, you can improve your chances of success by following universal interview etiquette, including dressing to impress and doing your research beforehand. 

Using the right amount of eye contact and body language to establish yourself as a confident and respectable professional is also key. 

Over and above this advice, remember to relax, be genuinely yourself, and allow yourself to engage with your interviewer in a comfortable and meaningful way. 

No person has ever been successful in every interview. But being prepared ahead of time gives you the best possible chance of securing the next big step in your freelance career.

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Written by Karen Bradford

Contributor at Millo.co

Karen Bradford is an editor with a deep-rooted love for language and the power of the written word. With a focus on productivity, events, and self-care, Karen brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing, and her passion for these topics shines through in each and every piece she creates. In her free time, Karen enjoys engaging her mind and testing her problem-solving skills with puzzle games and challenging herself in the immersive, thrilling environment of an Escape Room.

Karen's Articles

Reviewed & edited by Alex Skinner, at Millo.

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