5 Questions to Expect When Applying for a Remote Position
Considering a remote job? Congrats! Was it the promise of increased flexibility that led you to this decision? Perhaps you’ve got a busy family and crave the balance of a more fine-tuned work/life balance? Or maybe you’re a digital nomad, horrified at the thought of settling down into a job that ties you to one place for a long time? Maybe you’re just the non-traditional type who’d rather work alone than in a busy office.
Whatever your reasoning, you’ve made an exciting decision to pursue a type of work that’s rewarding, satisfying and hugely beneficial for millions of workers across the globe. The one catch? You don’t have the slightest clue what to prepare for! With remote work still being a relatively new aspect of the mainstream business model, never having interviewed for a remote position before may seem intimidating and mysterious. Fear not, qualified candidate, below are 3 questions to prepare for during an interview for a remote job.
But first, some ground rules. Keep in mind, the job interview for a remote position is not so different from a traditional interview. At this stage, skills and competency are just as important as with any job. Prepare as you would for any other interview, revisiting your past experiences, strengths and weaknesses, special skills, critical thinking capabilities, etc. Remember, the right candidate is the right candidate – being skilled or experienced in working remotely is just the icing on top for the employer.
Once you’re prepared for the interview as a whole, it’s time to nail down the specifics about working remotely. Here are the four questions you’ll most likely be asked in an interview for a remote position:
- 1. Why do you want to work remotely?
This one may ease you into the conversation about remote work, but don’t get too comfortable. The interviewer isn’t just interested in your justification for seeking a remote job. Saying you’d like more time to travel or more time with the family is a perfectly good answer for your friends and family, but having a solid understanding of the pros and cons of this type of work is vital to answering this question well.
Provide a detailed answer that focuses on how you’ll contribute to the company, and why doing so remotely will benefit everyone. Perhaps you focus better without company, perhaps you have a network of contacts in your surrounding area that you can leverage in the job, one that wouldn’t be possible if you were to be working in any other area. Whatever you answer, be sure it’s clear that the benefit of remote work won’t solely be yours – you need to ensure the company knows that hiring you, and hiring you remotely, will be a big win for them.
- 2. What tools do you use? How do you schedule your days and time and when you do your best work
This question may be an easy answer on the surface level, but responding with a quick answer like: “I love Slack and Google Docs! I use them every day along with my Google Calendar to keep me organized throughout the day.” … that probably isn’t what they’re hoping to hear. While listing the connectivity tools this way is fine, you’ll need to dive deeper and give more detail to give the full picture.
A better answer might be: “I rely a lot on Slack, Google Docs, and my Google Calendar. With Slack, I’m in constant contact with my manager. Being in different time zones, phone calls aren’t always easy, so Slack enables us to have real time communication about projects, edits, priorities, and everyday conversation. This helps us feel connected and it’s helped build our relationships. With Google Docs, I typically put as much context as possible at the top of any project, complete my tasks, and finish by tagging the key stakeholders. From here, we have collaborative conversations about edits, changes, and approvals. It really keeps everything moving and keeps everyone on the same page. My Google Calendar has my whole life in it – both personal and professional. This way, I have a much easier time managing my day. I typically reserve blocks of time to work on specific tasks so that I keep focused on the right things at the right times. I do my best work early in the morning. I like to do a big sprint of work early, take a break to eat breakfast and catch up on emails, then get back into things by 9 am my time.”
This answer would vary widely from person to person but gives a clear idea that the candidate is focused, organized, and knows how to use the tools at their disposal.
- 3. How would you manage a project? What would the process look like, and how would you react if things didn’t go to plan?
This is a question crucial to the success of your remote working capabilities. Although you might not be in a position of managing others, it’s important that you have a good foundation for project management to apply to a variety of circumstances. Answer the question thoughtfully, and walk through processes you’ve executed in the past, being as detailed as possible. Interviewers aren’t necessarily looking for one answer in particular here – just proof that you’re capable of organizing, monitoring and managing a successful project.
- 4. What’s your biggest concern about working remotely?
Here’s where managers are looking for you to be vulnerable and honest. Don’t start with an answer that suggests you have no concerns – this would be – or should be – untrue. Every job comes with caveats, and remote work is no different. Perhaps you’ll miss the company of coworkers? Or maybe you rely on manager feedback and are concerned about a lack of face-to-face contact? Perhaps you’re just concerned about not having a physical office to step into and worry you’ll overwork yourself without clear boundaries.
Whatever the answer, be tactful about it, and offer a clear solution along with the concern. For example, do you plan to frequent coffee shops or networking groups to gain social interaction? Could video chatting with a manager solve that problem? Maybe setting up a specific section of your home that’s off limits aside from work hours will help you separate the two? Whatever the concern, offering an honest assessment and viable solution will win over the hiring manager.
- 5. If you had to make an important decision when the rest of the team was offline, could you do it?
Situations like these are a reality in the world of remote work. While suggesting you might just stall and wait for other parties to become available is one answer you could offer, it sidesteps the question and makes you sound unqualified for a solutions-oriented position.
To answer this one, be sure to detail how you’d gather information to solve the problem, giving as much reference to the actual job at hand as possible. From there, indicate what your course of action would be to actually make the decision, then be sure to talk through the communication processes you would offer. This may include looping in any relevant customers or clients, other members of the team, and managers.
Take the time to review these questions and write down your answers. Be if you are asked to answer them, you don’t sound rehearsed, but prepared. You never know what an interviewer might ask, but understanding how you’d answer these questions will make you better prepared for anything they may throw your way.
If you wish to know more about how to prepare for a remote work environment, enroll to The Remote Future Summit