[This article originally appeared on the Virtual Vocations blog here.]
Telecommuting opens up a world of possibilities for millennials. From a higher sense of purpose and greater work-life balance to long-lasting bonds with their employers, more and more millennials are opting to work remotely.
If you’re a 20- to 30-something with an upcoming virtual interview, follow our six-step checklist to stay ahead of the curve and show your prospective employer that you’re a serious candidate.
1. Flex Your Research Muscles
Dismantle the notion that “millennials are unprepared” by becoming a research rock star. Unlike many generations of job seekers, millennials have the most powerful job interview prep tool of all at their disposal: the Internet.
Ahead of your interview, spend at least 45 minutes doing your homework on any potential employer’s online presence. You want the employer to see you as a natural addition to the team, as if you’re a puzzle piece dropping into place, so research the company like your job depends on it – because it does.
Check the company blog, scan social media for insights into the business’ company culture, and scour Google News for recent events and updates. Next, familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, business goals, and products. You can even look up current company employees on LinkedIn to see if you have any professional work history in common.
With a little advanced preparation, you’ll show your prospective employer you’re a perfect fit for their team. Plus, you’ll be armed with an arsenal of impressive company facts and insights you can drop when you’re inevitably asked, “Why do you want to work for this company?”
2. Check Your Backdrop
During a virtual interview you’re inviting the interviewer into your environment, rather than the other way around, so set the stage for success!
If your interview will take place over the phone, it’s a good idea to keep your space clean and calm. Even though a hiring manager can’t see you during a phone interview, your comfortable demeanor will translate through your voice. And while you’re at it, avoid the nervous tendency to pace back and forth by picking a cozy spot to sit down.
For a video conference interview, set up your computer station in advance and check the background for loud artwork, your unmade bed, and other distractors. Prepping a peaceful, distraction-free environment is essential for your interviewer to be able to focus on the most important thing: you.
Bonus Tip: Stack books underneath your laptop until it’s positioned at eye-level. You don’t want the employer looking up your nose! Test the angle in advance with a Skype call to a friend.
3. Prepare Electronics
Technology is great, isn’t it? Except when it fails. Avoid technical glitches by fully charging your electronic devices ahead of time. In addition, you should verify your Internet settings to make sure you’re connected on the correct network. And if you’re using a video conferencing program like Skype, make sure your login information works properly. The last thing you need is for your phone to drop the call or your Internet connection to get disrupted while your virtual job interview is in progress.
4. Complete a Noise Check
Take a moment to think about potential auditory interruptions that could break the flow of your virtual interview. If there’s noisy traffic outside, close the window. If you have pets that will want to play with you during your interview, take them into another room and set them up with their favorite toys. If your kids or housemates are home, close your home office door and tape a note to the outside that reads, “Interview in Progress.”
We also suggest silencing your cell phone, turning off music or television sets in close proximity to your work space, and disabling any scheduled alarms or alerts on your computer and mobile devices. Lastly, though we don’t recommend interviewing in a public place like a restaurant or coffee shop, if you must, make your way to the quietest corner of the space you can find and utilize headphones.
5. Look the Part
Let’s disprove the stereotype that millennials (and telecommuters) are slackers, shall we?
Once you’ve properly established the environment for your virtual interview, it’s time to dress for the part. Just as with an in-office interview, make sure you’ve showered, fixed your hair, brushed your teeth, and selected an appropriate outfit; a little TLC to your appearance will go a long way.
How about a high five for hygiene!
Now it’s time to give it your best. Rather than wasting your energy on every little detail that could go wrong during your virtual interview, focus on what you can control: your mindset.
Approach your virtual job interview from a relaxed and confident inner place; a positive attitude will take you far. And remember, no matter if you’re interviewing virtually or attending a traditional onsite interview, there’s one job interview tip that’s universal: smile.