Q&A: What is virtual interviewing and onboarding like?

Q&A: What is virtual interviewing and onboarding like?

By: Laurel Farrer

Q: I’ve just started my remote job search. Every day, I search for new posts on remote job boards and apply to as many jobs as I can. I am hoping to hear back about my applications asap and get started in the hiring process. I’m assuming that the interview will be a video call, but I just realized that I don’t know what to expect beyond that. Are there any surprises that I should know about? Is a virtual job hiring process different than in a co-located company?


A: Congratulations! We’re excited that you’re on your way toward the virtual job of your dreams!

While many of us have heard tips and attended training about how to successfully navigate on-site job interviews, their virtual counterparts can feel like uncharted territory. Luckily, remote job hiring has now been around long enough that most remote recruiters have a defined hiring process.


Step One: Skills Test  

Most employers will kick off the hiring process with a skills evaluation of some kind. This can come as a form, a quiz, or even a few questions integrated into the application. These responses are usually judged blindly and used to filter out as many candidates as possible, so don’t skip over these with the mentality of “I’ll save my best for later.”


Step Two: Screening Interview

You’re absolutely right. Almost all companies will start the interview phase with a phone call or video call. Not only is this a more efficient way to learn more about your qualifications, but it helps the interviewer evaluate your ability to communicate and engage from a distance. Make sure that you adequately prepare for your meeting by setting the virtual stage for success and brainstorming impressive answers to the questions that are unique to remote job interviews.


Step Three: Final Interview

The experience of the final interview won’t be much different than the screening interview, other than you might expect to hear more tactile and logistical questions in the first, and strategic questions in the second. The real key in this stage is to be consistent. Be just as charming, engaging, and prepared for this interview as you were for the first. It’s shocking how often candidates fail at this stage because they get stage fright after moving on to a more “difficult” interview phase. Just relax and be yourself.


Step Four: Trial Project

It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Not every remote-friendly employer does this, but it has definitely become a trend for the final stage in the remote job hiring process, although each brand seems to handle it a little differently. Some companies offer compensation for your contributed time and ideas, and some don’t. You might be required to create new accounts for software or collaboration tools, or to collaborate with a team, or record your creative process, or meet a tight deadline. Regardless of the format and criteria, most employers try to mimic actual working environments and conditions as closely as possible to give you and them a realistic idea of what it will be like to work together.


Step Five: Onboarding

Like the trial project, this step definitely is not one-size-fits-all. Each remote-friendly company has a different method of integrating you into their team. You might be paired with a mentor to answer your questions, you might be invited to work on-site or at a retreat for a few days, or you might be shipped a box of equipment and goodies on your first day. Many distributed companies put a lot of thought and creativity into this step to ensure that your first experience with your team is a positive one, so you never know what to expect. Embrace the unknown and enjoy your surprise!


Best of luck as you continue your job search. When you land your first role, we want to celebrate with you! Be sure to share your happy news with us on Twitter using the hashtag #myremotejob.