At Laskie, one of our core principles is to provide software engineers transparency into every aspect of getting a job. We help you hone in on your job and career preferences, highlight your skills and experience, narrow down your options, prepare for interviews, negotiate your salary, and more.
Doing all this with thousands of engineers means we have a unique perspective on what can go right—and what can go wrong—on both sides of the interview process.
We wanted to share with you the top five (simple!) things we advise you to do to have great remote interviews:
Time check: To properly prepare for each interview requires blocking out about 1-2 hours of prep time the day before the interview, and 1 hour of setup and interview time the day-of. No wonder getting a job can feel like a full-time job!
When you're interviewing remotely (maybe it's been a while for you), it’s essential to set up properly. Make sure you’ve checked off (or at least considered) all of these steps:
Find a quiet, well-lit area for your interview. Ideally this is indoors. Your car doesn’t count!
Arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview. You don't want to be rushing. If you have work, stop at least 15 minutes before your interview to prepare. If you have other interviews, don't schedule them back-to-back without at least a 15-minute buffer. This will let you relax and prepare for the new call, set up and test Zoom, your mic/headset, camera, etc.
Close all your other tabs and turn off all notifications on your computer and phone. (Yes, even Slack!) No one wants to hear that 'pinging' sound the whole time they're talking to you.
Use wired headphones. You know as well as we do that Bluetooth always fails at the worst times.
Have a backup plan for power and wifi loss. Murphy's Law.
Have a plan for pets, kids, etc. But don’t panic if and when they barge in.
Don't drink a ton of water or coffee in the hour before the call. Because.
Don’t sit with a window or light source right behind you. You know that backlit, haunted look some people have on calls? That's not great for interviews.
Plan to look directly into the camera ‘at’ the interviewer. Don't spend the whole call looking off to the side. Even if you have two monitors.
Things of course happen, but preparing properly allows you to spend the whole call focusing on what matters—connecting with the other person, learning about the company and role and how you're a great fit—and not rebooting your computer.
The day before the interview (so you’re not cramming), spend at least an hour brainstorming the following:
Why you’re leaving your current role or looking for a job. Don’t say it’s because you hate your boss, even if it's true. Instead, talk about how you want to grow in your career, learn new things, etc. If you're currently not working, don't apologize for it or feel bad about it. Instead, talk about how excited you are for your next role.
What you’re looking for in your next role and for your career path. Think specifically about how you want to grow and learn in your career, whether you eventually want to get into management (if you're not already), etc.
How your work experience and interests match up to each responsibility listed in the job description. Be prepared to talk specifically like, "You say you're looking for X, and I did X at my last job." Give a specific (short) story that illustrates the point. Use numbers whenever possible (e.g., "The upgrade I led increased loading speed by 60%, which led to another $2 million in sales that year, and we had no downtime.")
The reasons for any short job tenures, etc. Employers often fixate on job tenure as a proxy for dependability, and may incorrectly assume you don’t want a full-time, long-term job. They may also think a history of contracting jobs, freelancing, working for yourself, etc. are a concern. Reassure them that you want a full-time job (assuming you do) and how you want to learn and grow with the company for years to come.
Also on the day before the interview, do further research on the role, company, founders, and your potential manager(s). Be prepared to highlight your research and ask insightful questions on the call.
Examples of things you might want to talk or ask about:
Research any mutual connections you have with the hiring manager. People you've worked with, previous companies, education, interests, etc. (e.g., “I see you worked at Sun Microsystems too! What was that experience like?”)
Research the history of the company. Read their blog posts, search for any recent articles about them, interviews with the founders, etc. (e.g., “I was really impressed by the interview the founder gave in January where she spoke about how DAOs are going to change the future of democracy.”). This level of preparation makes an amazing first impression and helps you stand out. You wouldn't believe how few candidates do any homework before coming in to an interview.
Ask about projects you’ll be working on in the first 3 months. You can also ask about team/organizational structures, etc.
Ask about the existing tech stack and product roadmap. How does it align with your skills and interests?
Ask about career trajectory. Feel free to ask about opportunities for growth and professional development, etc. This shows that you care and want to grow with the team.
Ask about company culture and founding principles. Make sure this company is a good fit for you, beyond just the money and the technical details.
Ask about the hiring manager's own perspective. What drew them to the company? What is their current role and what are they currently most excited/worried about? This shows that you care about them as a person, and will be a great teammate.
As we've written about before, have a salary number in mind before your first interview. You might have to give the first number, and it's possible you'll want to walk away if their salary range is not in the ballpark.
That said, it’s best not to talk a ton about money or ask a lot of questions about specific details like equity, PTO, health insurance, laptop policy, etc. until you’re in later stages of the interview process. Keep it focused on the people, job, and company until you're sure they're interested in you, and then you can start to discuss the details later.
Again, you'd be amazed how few candidates do this, and how many 'extra points' you can get.
One short, simple “thank you” email always works. Send this a few hours after the interview, not immediately afterwards. It will feel a little more 'natural' that way.
You can even write a thank you e-mail template beforehand, edit it after each new call, and then schedule it to go out a few hours later.
A great email template can look something like this:
Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I really appreciated your thoughts about ___________.
[Add something specific about the call, how you feel connected to the role, company, mission, etc.]
[Attached is my portfolio link, etc.]. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Thanks, and hope to talk to you soon!
This follow-up email is an opportunity for you to show your excitement about the role and company. Use it to re-emphasize your alignments. Remember, there is a good chance the hiring manager will forward your email on to the next person you're interviewing with, so, in a way, this is your 'introduction' to them.
If you discussed something specific in the call, such as a publicly available work sample, your GitHub, etc., you can also share that in your email.
Lastly, after you send the email, add the other person as a connection on LinkedIn. This shows how thoughtful you are!
We know interviews can be stressful—a lot of engineers consider them the most difficult part of the process, along with negotiating salary. That's why we spend so much of our time helping our candidates prepare for interviews.
Want our help? Have a big interview coming up and want to get some tips, maybe even interview with a few other companies along the way? We're always 100% free for talent, so you have nothing to lose. (And you just may find that your dream job wasn't at that MAANG company, but was at that midsize company that cares about work-life balance, offers you an incredible all-remote package, and gives you an opportunity to work directly with the CTO!)
Check out our testimonials if you want to see what real software engineers are saying, 100% unedited!
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