Telecommuting, remote jobs, work-from-home positions … whatever you call them, you may have applied for an offsite position at some point during your job search. While the perks of a remote job may be obvious—no commute, flexible schedule, fewer co-worker distractions—you should also consider how the interview process may be different from one for an onsite position.
Here, we go over important distinctions to keep in mind during a remote interview, as well as common remote interview questions to prepare for.
Preparing for a remote interview
Job seekers may think that, even though they are interviewing for a remote position, the interview will take place in-person at the organization’s office. This is not always the case, even as more organizations list hybrid and remote job opportunities; in fact, the process may include phone calls, video interviews, and online assessment tests.
While you may think it’s easier to be interviewed over the phone, there are still some challenges to prepare for. For instance, the absence of body language and facial expressions during a phone interview makes it tougher to let the hiring manager know you’re actively engaged in the conversation. You may also run the risk of “checking out” because there is not another person sitting in front of you.
During a video interview, distracting backgrounds, a lack of office space, and dysfunctional tech can make the process uncomfortable for both you and the hiring manager. To make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, choose a quiet, distraction-free environment. It’s also helpful to take notes so you remain engaged throughout the interview.
Common remote work interview questions
During the interview, you’ll likely face many of the same questions you’d hear when applying to any new role. However, a remote job will also warrant questions about your capacity to work away from an office—here are a few examples of what may come up:
- Have you worked remotely before? Hiring managers ask this question to ensure you can self-motivate and stay on task when you’re away from an office space. If you haven’t worked remotely before, you can share specific examples of how you have managed your time and working relationship in previous positions, or your familiarity with remote work technology. If you previously worked in customer service, for example, highlight any experience you have communicating via phone or email in responding to customer queries.
- Are you comfortable working independently? Remote jobs may mean you’ll face less oversight from supervisors and will need to manage your own workload. If your work experience includes environments where you took on independent tasks—such as photo editing, administrative work, or writing—be sure to let the interviewer know what tools and strategies you used to organize your day and communicate with co-workers.
- Do you have a home office? A hiring manager may want to make sure you have a designated place to work at home that is free from distractions. If you get this question, let the interviewer know where you plan to attend virtual meetings, even if it’s just a desk in your bedroom.
- What are your communication preferences? A common goal for a remote team is regular, open communication with co-workers. If you’re interviewing for a management position, you might mention that you plan to schedule regular check-ins with direct reports or share calendar access with your team. While workplace communication is important at any job, knowing and sharing your communication style is essential when managing a remote team.
What to ask the hiring manager
And of course, as with any job interview, there will be a point where you can ask the hiring manager questions you have about the remote work set-up. Here are a few important ones to keep in mind:
- Why is remote work offered at this organization?
- How many employees work remotely?
- What hours would I be expected to work, and in what timezone?
- Will equipment be provided or do I need to supply my own?
- How is salary and compensation determined?
Be sure to take notes and keep track of the questions that are most relevant to you and your situation. For instance, you may decide to ask more questions about the hiring organization’s culture, as opposed to salary and benefits, if you’re based in the same city as the organization.
If you are offered a remote position and decide to accept it, you’ll have to make more of an effort to grow comfortable at your new organization. Reach out to your manager and co-workers early in the onboarding process to schedule an introductory chat—just because you won’t be standing around a water cooler doesn’t mean you can’t get to know each other virtually.
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