Prepare for the types of questions asked in a remote job interview. Learn how to successfully answer common questions. Be ready to explain why you want a remote job and share your relevant experiences to back it up. Transparency is key in a remote job interview.
- What is your biggest fear about working remotely? How do you deal with distractions? What do you do when your manager asks you to work on a project and they are not around to clarify questions? Yup, you kinda guessed it, these are not your average interview questions. However, they do reflect important issues when gauging who might be a good fit for a remote position. I've been through and conducted lots of remote interviews, and I'd just like to take some time to share some of my insights. Oftentimes, the first question you'll be asked will have something to do with why you wanna work remotely.
And yeah, it sounds simple, but don't make the mistake I made on one of my first interviews, which was opening up with a joke that I wanted to work in my PJ's all day and avoid a crowded commute. While this was technically true, it was not the answer they wanted to hear. Employers are trying to assess why a flexible work environment is important to you, and what you would be potentially doing while you're not working. So, you can say that you plan to spend some extra time with loved ones, or some other meaningful activity, and that you really admire a company that offers flexible work options, and you've a keen interest in working and growing with it.
Questions about how you stay motivated and avoid distractions are bound to come up too. I've been asked about my living situation before, and when I mentioned I live with roommates, I got the following scenario in question. Imagine you're working at home, and your roommates come home and are loud in the kitchen, doing dishes, chatting, and cooking a meal. How do you stay productive in that case? Well, I suggested that I would politely let them know that I was working, then work in my room with a closed door, put on headphones to avoid the distraction. If you're ever asked how to stay motivated while working remotely, what they're really asking is, without the confines of an office or a micromanaging boss breathing down your neck, how will you stay focused and get your work done? Feel free to use my answer above, or examples from previous jobs in which you managed to keep your focus and your motivation despite quarreling cube-mates or incessant meetings.
This at least gets the point across that you can stay on task despite distractions. And to be transparent, I like to work from my couch, my kitchen table, my backyard, coffee shops, and coworking spaces. In fact, I actually wrote this script sitting in the Los Angeles airport. All that being said, I still have my quiet place in my house where I can shut out all noise and distractions and get work done. When hiring managers ask about what your home office is like what they're really asking about is if you've taken the proper measures to create a productive space in your home.
So before your interview, make sure you have a dedicated space along with the necessary tools to get your work done. Plus, if you're videoconferencing during your job interview, you can just give folks a tour of your home office, which can be kind of fun. A critical element in any remote work environment is how well a team communicates. There will undoubtedly be a question about this, and it will be probably something general like, how well do you communicate when working remotely? Watch out for these general questions as there are some pitfalls.
You could easily get sucked into just talking about the technology like emails, or IM's, or video conferencing, or FaceTime, or just the good old fashioned telephone. So yes, showcasing your familiarity with communication tools is good, but you want to focus more on how you use them. If there's an issue you're having, at what point do you stop trying to solve it yourself before you reach out? For me, I always like to see if I can solve something with some basic research, and if I get stuck, it's time to reach out to someone who already has the know how.
That will ensure you're not spinning your wheels and are also not interrupting people with questions at the first sign of an issue. Also, it is helpful to showcase examples of what type of tool is appropriate for a certain type of communication. If you have something you need immediate feedback on, you'll want to send an instant message, or even call someone. If you don't hear from them in an hour or so, it's fine to send an email and place urgent in the subject line. But, if you're looking for feedback on a project you're working on, then sending an email for someone to look at later will work just fine.
Before I reach out to someone, I always like to ask myself what the most appropriate form of communication should be. And I find that just a little bit of thought goes a long way. Relating that in the interview should go a long way too. These are just some of the typical things you might be asked about during a job interview, and think about your experiences and how they might relate to some of these questions. My hope is that knowing what you'll be asked ahead of time will give you the time to prepare strong answers that can win over any potential remote employer.
- Preparing for your remote job hunt
- Setting up a productive workspace
- Finding remote jobs
- Avoiding scams
- Crafting a remote resume
- Interviewing for a remote job
- Negotiating salary
- Staying motivated