Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.
Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?
Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.
Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.
Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.
Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.
When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.
When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.
Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.
To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.
To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.
You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.
Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.
For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.
To do: Be flexible about meeting times.
To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.
As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.
Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.
To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.
To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.
Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.
What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.
To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.
To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.
Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.
When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.
To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.
To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.
6. Good Computer Hygiene
Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.
Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?
To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.
To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.
7. Proper Meeting Etiquette
Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.
Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.
To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.
To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.
8. Respecting Feedback
In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.
Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.
To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.
To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.
9. Project Management
Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.
To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.
To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.
10. Staying up to Speed
Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.
To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.
To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.
11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues
“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.
To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.
To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.
Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.
Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.
To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.
To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.
Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.
More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills
Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?
Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:
- Taking a job for the money
- Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
- Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
- Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
- Taking a position without a full understanding of the role
There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted
One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?
Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.
1. Be a Mentor
When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.
“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”
This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.
This can get you stuck.
Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:
“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”
With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?
From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?
Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.
Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!
Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:
- Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
- As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
- You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.
Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.
2. Work on Your Mindset
Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:
“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”
In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.
Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.
Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.
3. Improve Your Soft Skills
When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills.
According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.
You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.
Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!
Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.
Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.
The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.
4. Develop Your Strategy
Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?
Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.
Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?
Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What thrills you about your current job role or career?
- What does a great day look like?
- What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
- How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?
These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.
After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.
Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.