Before landing at ChartHop, I spent almost half a year interviewing for product manager roles remotely at a variety of tech companies during the pandemic. Through trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of advice for interviewing remotely at tech companies (though I imagine these apply to any remote interview).
Multitask to Your Advantage
- Prepare relevant notes beforehand (general background on the company / interviewer, questions you want to ask, outlines of frameworks you use) and have them on displayed on your monitor. Oftentimes the act of preparing notes is enough, but on the off-chance you blank out during the call, you can fall back on your notes.
- Use your standard working tools. Use Miro, Google Docs, a piece of paper, whatever you normally use to approach problems. Even just taking a minute to outline points you want to cover in your answer can pay huge dividends in the comprehensiveness and organization of your response. If you are used to keeping everything in your head, consider try a few to see if it can augment your performance.
- Take notes during the call. No one has ever appeared lesser for taking notes; it only increases others’ perception of you. Good things to write down are questions you want to ask later, interesting information the interviewer shares, and answers to questions you ask.
- Present how you’re used to presenting. At work, I’ve seen people present with slide decks, but also with Figma boards, well-organized Google Docs, pre-reads, or screen-share their meeting notes during the meeting. Strongly consider using your normal style in the interview. You’ll perform best with the style you’re most familiar, and the company gets a better sense of your true working self.
- If you share your screen, you can still print out notes or outlines and have them on your desk for reference.
- Schedule a meeting with a friend (or even just yourself) on the platform to ensure all permissions are set and you know where the buttons are. Macs will ask for sharing permissions that require an app relaunch if you’re running an app for the first time.
- Move the video window as close to your camera as possible, usually the top of your screen.
- There’s no need for the video to take up the whole screen. Shrinking the video window down to the size of a phone screen (or smaller!) makes it easier to make eye contact with the camera while still seeing your audience, and has the added benefit of reducing the cognitive stress that comes with seeing a large-than-life-sized head in front of you.
- Schedule your calls intentionally. Personal preferences vary between having some downtime before an interview vs. jumping right in from another meeting. Interviews will be intermixed throughout your workday so give yourself the preparation your prefer ahead of each call.
- For panels, arrive early and greet each person as they join, similar to how you would shake each person’s hand as they walked into a room. It gives you more personal time with each person, and allows you to ease your nerves before going into the bulk of the interview.
- Use headphones. Echos on calls (hearing yourself talking through the other person’s mic) are unpredictable, and you don’t want to risk annoying the interviewer.
- Use a mic that’s not built into your laptop. Typing and clicking sounds will come through if you do, and generally speaking, the closer a mic is to your mouth (e.g. built into headphone wires or bluetooth headphones) the better it sounds.
- Limit listening sounds — “ohh” “yeah” “uh huh” — while the other person is talking. While these work in real life, they create a bigger interruption over calls that can cause an interviewer to lose their train of thought. Try visual cues, such as nodding, instead.
- Phone interview? Try standing and pacing around the room. Or consider turning your chair around so you’re not at your normal desk environment.
- Do you hand gesture? Run through some of your biggest gestures with your camera on to ensure they’re all in frame.
- You can turn off video preview, if you find yourself staring at your own face and getting distracted.
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