Six Tips for Remote Interviews

Written by
Brian DeGrazia

Nov 18, 2019

Nov 18, 2019 • by Brian DeGrazia

Earlier this year, we shared some suggestions for remote interviews from the ADFL Executive Committee. We wanted to revisit the issue, though, especially given that academic interview season is upon us. Here are a few tips (and congratulations on your interview!):

1. Do your homework. As you would for an in-person interview, find out what you can about the institution, department, and individuals who will be interviewing you. What are they likely to care about most, and what makes you a good fit specifically for this position at this institution?

2. Dress as you would for an in-person interview. While you won’t be in the same room as the people you’ll be meeting (and you might even be conducting the interview from your own home), you should treat the interview like any other. Put the best version of yourself forward. Even if the interview is held over the phone with no video, dressing for it can help you get in the zone!

3. Test your tech. Technology for remote meetings has come far, but glitches still occur. Although to some degree this is out of your control, do everything you can to avoid technical difficulties. Make sure your Internet can support a video connection. Set up a test call with a friend or colleague a few days before your interview to make sure you can properly see and be seen and hear and be heard. You might prefer not to use headphones, but be sure to keep a set nearby in case you can’t hear well or your interviewers are getting feedback on their end. Remember that Wi-Fi connections can vary from room to room, so be sure to test in the exact space that you’ll use for your interview.

4. Choose an appropriate and private space. Ideally, you should sit at a desk or table (not on your bed!). Be mindful of what’s behind you and visible to the camera. Inform anyone with whom you share your space—office mates, family members, pets—that the interview is happening and that you’ll need a closed door, privacy, and silence. You might ask your adviser or a department administrator if there is a faculty office available that you can use at the time of your interview; this can also be a good way to secure a stable, wired Internet connection. Wherever you are, turn your cell phone off and leave it out of reach for the duration of the interview.

5. Notes: dos and don’ts. Notes can provide helpful reminders of specific points you want to bring up during your interview. Keep in mind, though, that while the committee can’t see the notes sitting on your desk, they can see your eyes glancing down at them. Try memorizing your key points, rehearse them out loud, and keep the looking down to a minimum. If you want to take notes during the interview, use a paper notepad or a device different from the one you’re using to connect to the interview.

6. Expect the unexpected. You’re going to do everything you can to minimize distractions and hiccups and to set yourself up for success in this interview. Unfortunately, things can still happen: there might be tech problems beyond your control or committee members who join the interview late, leave it early, or don’t show up at all. Try to keep cool and do your best. If you’ve followed the above tips, you’ll have done everything you can to prepare yourself for a successful interview.