It’s been six months since you’ve seen an office. Your coworkers have been reduced to talking heads on Zoom calls. (Do people still HAVE bodies?) Putting on pants with a button seems like an impossible task and your hair hasn’t seen a pair of scissors since January. And now...you have a job interview. A remote video interview. Making an impact can seem impossible in a world where you feel disconnected from everybody and have a cat sitting on your keyboard, but fear not—it’s doable. Take my hand...
Modicum of Decorum
Fancy words, simple premise. Just because you’re interviewing remotely doesn’t mean you have to showcase your cluttered shame. Find a neutral place in your home with few visual distractions, and test everything before the call—your microphone, speaker, and webcam. I know you don’t think you have to, but you do. I recently was on a Zoom call where I was sitting in front of a framed Melvins poster, and unbeknownst to me, it looked like I had a tiny clown hat on for the entire call. Learn from my mistake. Every gaffe is one they will remember you for. Another idea is to conduct a practice run with a friend. Set up a Zoom call and do a quick run through of common interview questions to set yourself up for success. Also consider jotting down notes or a simple script of topics that you want to cover. If you present yourself to the world like you care, then others will too.
Also—stop looking at yourself in the call! Everybody can tell, believe me. We know it’s tempting so we recommend turning off the self-view setting (why does this even exist?), if you can.
Dress for Success— and Not Just from the Waist Up
I see you, business on top, pajamas on the bottom. Would you show up to an in-person wearing this travesty? The late and great Karl Lagerfield once said: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.” Heed his words, and dress like you would for any other interview. Just because we can’t see your pants, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear them. If you rock the slob ‘fit, you’re not going to slay.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Because you aren’t interviewing in person and won’t get a chance to meet your future coworkers IRL, you’ve got to up your Zoom game. When we’re on a video call, it’s more difficult to read and react to subtle body language cues, so we tend to overcompensate. Things get weird. Stay calm, speak slowly, and carry on. If you’re screen sharing, make sure that your deck is organized, clean up your cluttered desktop, and close those 50 open tabs. Pro tip: if screen sharing, make a PDF of your portfolio/CV and send it to everybody as a leave behind when you’re done. Boom. Nailed it. Remember - JOB HUNTING IS LIKE DATING. Don’t oversell, and play it cool, cucumbers.
I recently received applications from a few candidates who put together amazing, beautiful decks with their resume, a cover letter, some highlights from their portfolio, and a really nice, short “About” section. I love these! Their attention to craft and the thoughtfulness struck me, and I appreciated the time they took to go the extra mile with no promise of return on investment. That’s the type of homie I want on my team! After reviewing 250 resumes, a well-written bio is fun to read, refreshing, and memorable. They go beyond a portfolio link and connect the dots to who you are, what you bring to the table, and what you might be like to work with. You’ve got one shot, like Eminem said. Do not miss your chance to blow!
I know you’ve heard it but hear me again—follow up! Politely and in a timely manner, of course. The market is flooded with candidates, and even though many hiring managers are using an ATS software to track them, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. A personal note or LinkedIn message is a great way to make sure you stay connected, and shows that you want the job. The Queen of England still writes thank you notes—you can, too.
You got the job! IT has mailed you a laptop that you can’t figure out, and you’ve met 25 people on video calls in one day. Your head is spinning and now you’re sitting at your home “desk” in constrictive business casual attire, overwhelmed and slightly confused. Welcome to the magic of onboarding in the year 2020. Starting a job remotely is really tough. When you work in a vacuum, it can be easy to go down the wormhole of self doubt. Reach out to your new coworkers and schedule one-on-one video chats. Ask your supervisor to set up weekly meetings to touch base while you onboard. The beginning is where a lot can go wrong—overcommunication is the best way to gauge how you’re doing, figure out the pecking order, and make your coworkers aware of what you’re working on.
What We Are Looking For
In a virtual world, hiring managers are looking for a few key things in addition to skillset - organization, communication, initiative, and above all else, accountability. Honestly, these things always mattered, but they’re especially important when working remotely. Not everybody can work remotely. But everybody can learn how.
You have to exercise self discipline, and be organized to a T. If not, you may find yourself unshowered, half dressed, eating dip in front of the fridge, and missing deadlines or meetings. Don’t be that guy. Show up like you’re taking on the world, even if showing up means walking 10 feet to the next room. If your work uses Slack or similar, use it! Talk to people, tell them what you are doing, and don’t assume people know. Document your work and don’t go dark. Keep the dreaded green light on, Gmail crew. Be diligent with your communication and time. Do that, resist the pajamas and you just might nail remote work in this strange new world we’re living in.
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