It’s safe to say that the world has been through quite a rollercoaster over this past year. One of the most seismic shifts we’ve seen has been an acceleration in remote working that has been forced by the national lockdowns due to the global pandemic. In next to no time, industries of all types have shifted to working remotely rather than side by side in an office, and we don’t think that’s a trend that is going to slow down. With all the technological advancements we’ve seen, as well as the shift in mindset around what can be accomplished when teams are not together, this is something that’s here to stay.
This shift then impacts how internships are going to happen around the world. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number and in the quality of remote internships that are being offered by companies – giving interns an unprecedented opportunity to apply for internships all around the world, regardless of where they are situated. It really is a fantastic opportunity to collect work experience from companies that you might never have had a chance to even interview with.
But in order to take full advantage of these opportunities, you need to put your best foot forward in the remote interview, which is a whole different game to interviewing in person.
In this article, we will run through some of the most important things to consider when you are preparing for a remote internship interview.
Let’s dig in.
Tip 1. Test Your Technology
This should go without saying but you’d be amazed at how many prospective interns run into technological difficulties on the day of the interview that could have been avoided with some basic preparation. The onus is on you to ensure that everything works as smoothly as possible on your end. Find out which software is going to be used for the call and do a test run with a friend or family member if possible to make sure that you know how it works and that your computer can run it successfully. Be sure to check both the video and audio components so that you can be seen and heard clearly. Of course, you’ll never be able to guarantee 100% success, there are always things that can go wrong, but a little bit of preparation in this regard can help to avoid 90% of any potential technical glitches.
Tip 2. Craft the Right Environment
Your first impression is incredibly important and so it’s worth doing some work to create the best possible environment for yourself to take on the interview.
- Seat yourself somewhere where you have a neutral background that doesn’t distract the people on the other side. You want them to be focusing on you and you alone.
- Make sure there is enough lighting and that it isn’t too harsh on your face. You want things to be as clear and natural as possible. If you can use natural lighting that is ideal – but often that can create a glare that doesn’t work. Get creative with your lighting set up to put your best foot forward as it makes a big difference in how you are perceived.
- Do whatever you can to remove any ancillary noise from the environment so that it’s as quiet as possible. If you’re sharing the space with other people, communicate with them ahead of time to let them know that you need to be free of distraction and in a peaceful environment so that you can be heard during the interview.
Tip 3. Dress Well
Even though you’re going to be at home and in a much more comfortable environment than the boardroom, doesn’t mean that your dress code should slack in any way. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to take corners because you think that they won’t be able to notice what you’re wearing. Instead, treat it as you would any interview and dress as formally as is required. This is not just crucial for making the right impression and showing that you care about the interview, but it also has a psychological impact – helping you to get into the right mindset to give your best in the interview itself.
Tip 4. Body Language
Another aspect of the interview that can be easy to slack on when doing it virtually is your body language. When you’re in person, we know to focus on posture, eye contact and engagement – but this is harder to do through a screen. But that’s what makes it even more important to focus on. If you’re able to pay close attention to your non-verbal communication and exaggerate it slightly, you’ll put yourself in a league above the rest. Another good tip to get this right is to look directly into the webcam when you are doing the interview, rather than at the images of those who are interviewing you on the screen. This can feel slightly strange of course, but it looks really professional and welcoming on the other side because it approximates real direct eye contact. Practice this a bit with a friend beforehand and you’ll have a secret weapon that can prove really powerful in these remote interview situations.
Tip 5. Prepare for Common Remote Internship Interview Questions
Remote internships are very different to typical in-person internships and so the questions you’ll be asked might have a slightly different angle to what you may be used to. As such, it’s worth spending some time thinking through some remote-specific questions and planning out some basic answers so you can be fully prepared to wow everyone on the other side of the call.
Here are some questions to think about:
- How do you schedule your day? You should be able to provide a detailed account of how you intend to spend your time when on the internship based on when you work best and what your living/working situation is. You won’t always have full freedom here, but by being upfront with what makes you most productive, you’ll come across as someone who is self-aware and knows what they are about.
- How do you use different communication tools in different situations? One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the range of different communication types and channels that are used to get things done efficiently. Think through how you might use email, instant messaging, video conferencing, phone calls, and the like depending on the situation to show how you can understand context and tact.
- Why do you want to work remotely? Often the answer to this can give an interviewer all they need to know about your motivations, work-ethic, and ability to self-start. Think through this one carefully and be sure to align your answer with the specific industry and role that you’re interviewing for.
- How do you prioritize tasks? When you’re interning remotely, you’re fully responsible for the work that you deliver, and you have to manage your own workload with very little supervision. As such, you’ll need to convince the company that you can prioritize tasks efficiently and make the most out of your time, for the good of the organization.
- How do you prepare for meetings? How would you run a virtual meeting? The difference between a good and a bad virtual meeting is vast, and it takes some skill to create the right environment for a team to meet over a video conference. As such, a company will want to know that you are able to participate and run meetings at a high level, applying all the best practices to get the most out of that valuable time.
- How do you plan to balance your work and personal life? If you’re interviewing with a company that actually cares, they’ll want to be sure that you are able to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life so that you can sustain yourself over the course of the internship without burning out. This can be surprisingly hard to get right, especially when you are trying to prove yourself, so it’s something you should be thinking carefully about in advance of the interview itself.
- If you encountered an obstacle or problem while the rest of the team was offline, how would you go about solving it? There will be times when you’re working on something and you don’t have support so it’s crucial that you can articulate a thoughtful and structured approach to solving those problems. You’re trying to illustrate how you can be resourceful and independent – so they can trust you rather than having to micromanage everything that you do.
- What’s your biggest concern about this remote internship? This is an opportunity to raise any potential problems or concerns you foresee with this particular opportunity. Be as honest as you can here because you want to make sure that this is the right fit for you as well. By discussing these upfront, you can often make the necessary adjustments to avoid any unnecessary pain, stress, or problems that could arise during the internship.
Those are just a few questions that you should be thinking about as they are slightly different to a typical interview and relate specifically to interning in a remote setting. That being said, it’s still important to prepare for the more typical interview questions as well as they will still play a very important part in the process. The more preparation you can do here, the better you’re going to be able to perform on the day.
Tip 6. Check the Time Zone
If you’re interviewing with a company that is in a different time zone to you, be sure that you double check the time zone is correct so that you show up at the right time. It can be very easy to get this wrong if you aren’t paying attention and the last thing you want to do is miss the whole interview entirely because you didn’t know there was daylight saving. If there is any confusion, confirm the time with whoever you’re interviewing with to make sure you’ve got it right.
Tip 7. Have a Printed Version of your Resume on Hand
Even though you are interviewing virtually, it is likely that your interviewers may refer to your resume at times – so it makes a lot of sense to have a printed version that you can look at if they are asking about specific details. This is much better than trying to pull up the electronic version while you are the call, which can be very distracting and stops the momentum of the conversation. A printed version shows you are prepared, and you can use it to run them through whatever additional information or clarification they are looking for.
Tip 8. Get set up early
On the day of the interview, be sure to set up your space early and log into the call a couple minutes beforehand so that if you do run into any last-minute struggles, you have some time to fix them. Don’t leave things to the last minute and then find yourself scrambling to get everything set up. The earlier you are ready, the better. In addition, it will also give you a moment to sit down and relax the nerves so that you are calm and confident during the interview. Whatever energy you project is going to set the tone of the interview – so do whatever you can to be composed and self-assured.
There you have it! Those are our best tips and techniques to smash that remote internship interview out of the park. If you get these components right, you put yourself in the best possible position to make a great impression on those interviewing you – and that’s all you can really control at the end of the day. After that, it’s up to them…
If you are on the hunt for global internship opportunities, be sure to check out what we offer over at Intrax. Our new virtual internships program helps to match international interns with US-based technology companies, looking after every step of the value chain. We offer the software and support that you need to navigate what can be a complex process, simplifying things and ensuring that both the companies offering the internship and the intern themselves have a really great experience.
Our focus is on mid-sized technology companies who are looking for programmers, software engineers, web developers, app developers, and more. If that sounds like you, be sure to get in touch today. We’d love to meet you and see how we can help!