The Remote Interviewing Checklist

Save this for the next time you interview for a new role

First posted in my newsletter: Tris Talks Remote - once a week email roundup of handpicked roles that are actually hiring worldwide

Shawn (and a few others) asked:

What is the interview process like for remote roles?

This is definitely a much bigger question than can be answered here, and depends on what roles you’re applying for. In my experience,

  1. Phone Screen: Usually, you start off with an initial casual chat for a sanity check - this is the “phone screen” stage where they:

    • See that you’re a real person
    • Make sure that you can communicate well

    Some recruiters will ask for your salary expectations right away. My suggestion is to defer this until a later interview, if you can. Tell them you’d like to get to know more about the role and team before going into that conversation. If they press you, you can always ask them for a range, and tell them whether or not your expectations are within the range.

    This is because you’ll want to have a chance to talk to more members of the team before your salary expectation is deemed too low/high. This is just a strategy I try to employ, there’s no wrong/right way about this. You may want to talk $$$ right away to save time/energy.

  2. Technical Interviews: most roles require some form of exercise these days, these can come in the form of technical exercises like preparing a presentation, completing a coding challenge, pair programming etc.

  3. Teammate/Cultural Interviews: If you’re lucky, you’ll be assigned interviews with teammates that you’ll likely work with in the role.

    • You should absolutely ask for these interviews if they are not assigned for you.
    • This is so you get a feel for how the team dynamic might be, and set realistic expectations for what you’re getting into.

    Never know what to ask? Here’s a great resource for coming up with good questions.

  4. Final Interview: replacing traditional “onsite” interviews, what with Covid and it being a remote role and all - this should be one of the final steps.

    Often you’ll be speaking to a c-level executive or the hiring manager (your future team lead). This will not defer from what you’re used to with traditional interviews.

  5. Salary negotiation: with larger companies, you can expect the recruiter to reach out for a final (actually final, this time) call about when you can start, what your salary expectations are, etc. This can also happen in the first call.

Make scheduling easy

Use free tools like Calendly, Google Calendar Invites, or TimeBuddy to make sure you and your interviewer are on the same page. Time zones are hard, but they don’t have to be. Use timezone annotations (examples: GMT+8 for us Malaysians, or PST for the Pacific Time Zone/GMT-7) to avoid confusion, then send them a calendar invite if they haven’t done so for you.

Bonus: Checklist for Online Interviewing

Save this for the next time you get into an interview. It’s saved my anxious butt a few times. Can you tell if I’m a serial planner?

The night before

  • Get as much sleep as you can. If your thoughts are racing, try a sleep meditation, or tapping meditation. I know, sounds hippy-dippy, but it works for me when guided meditations don’t.
  • Install and log in to the web conference program.
  • Tidy up your background, or set up a temporary screen.
  • Research the company.

    • Have they been in the news?
    • Have they launched a product recently?
    • Check their website, LinkedIn, Instagram profiles.
  • Research your interviewer

    • Do they have a web presence?
    • How long have they been in the company?
    • What is their role and what do they do?
  • Write down questions you have for the interviewer.
  • Review your submitted resume and plan your narrative.
  • Double check the interview time and date.

15 minutes before

  • Log in to the web conferencing app and check your audio, video, mic, and lighting. Make sure they can see your beautiful face.
  • Check for glare/reflections, if you wear glasses or have reflective surfaces in your background.
  • Check your internet connection.
  • Check your video background. Pick somewhere quiet and private, if you can. Sometimes a supply closet works if it’s quiet enough.
  • Check for any background noises (record a clip of yourself and play it back).
  • Open up your notebook and keep it with you. You can take notes during the session.

Do’s (read 5 minutes before)

  • Remember that you can ask clarifying questions before you answer. You don’t have to answer right away, make sure you understand what the interviewer is looking for. Or, ask if you can circle back to the question later
  • Use examples from your past experience whenever you can
  • Your interviewer is just as human as you are. They can get distracted, forgetful, busy - their behaviour is not necesarrily because of you or your performance
  • You are capable, you worked hard, and you deserve to be here