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How to Prepare for a Remote Job Interview?

Daniel M. Wolken
Software Developer at DailyRemote
Originally published at ・8 min read

People love working remotely. It's the most significant change in work since the introduction of modern computers.

A US federal government report said that 47% of its employees were eligible for telecommuting and twice as likely to stick with them due to better work/life balance.

Companies are thus embracing the remote work movement to attract and retain their talent, who otherwise would have left if not for prolonged telecommute.

Remote job is lucrative, but landing one is hard. You're no longer in your local market. You're competing against the global talent. To get hired for one of these increasingly desired positions, like in all interviews, you have to impress your employer.

There are naturally a lot of similarities between interviewing for remote companies and an in-office one. There are some essential steps to prepare for a remote job interview, lets us walk you through.

Research about your prospective employer

Researching beforehand goes a long way. Not only can you ask well thought out follow up questions, but it gives you an extra edge over other candidates.

Talking about examples and use-cases directly in context with the company's products and services will allow you to build an immediate rapport with the interviewer.

Therefore, it's essential to have a decent understanding of the company's products and services alongside its mission and culture.

Keeping a tab on company events, press conferences, latest releases, and upcoming products will put you in the right shoes and probably ahead of all the other candidates.

Websites like Glassdoor can help you get started with your research. To examine the company's presence online, check their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well, although the best place to get all the information will always be the company's website. Be sure to check that as well.

Whether in healthcare, marketing, or sales job, verify the company's background, what remote means to them, and the person with whom you will be interviewing. Understanding the company's profile will convince the recruiter that you have done your homework.

Dress for the part you want

Although the interview is for a remote company, you'd still need to dress in business casuals, depending on the company.

If you've been working remotely for a long time, you might have a long beard or just wearing pajamas. Maybe your hair is growing long, and you look all messy. It's probably the right time to get yourself well-groomed. Interview with remote companies is still a real interview.

Don't hunch or appear informal and relaxed. Your posture should reflect your confidence and enthusiasm.

Even though the company has a casual environment, which most remote companies will, you have to look presentable and elegant in the interview. Get a haircut, iron your clothes, and avoid wearing anything overly shiny, or distracting.

Clean up your interviewing space and make it clutter-free

Sitting in a messy room, with clothes spread everywhere, toys lying around, or other personal items on the floor can make you appear unprofessional. Interviewing in a dirty place could make you look sloppy.

It is vital to keep your interview area clean and tidy, and your background neutral. Make sure the room is well-lit and be in a private space instead of a busy coffee shop area.

Apart from keeping your interview area clutter-free, setting up a home office is a better option that will also make you look professional. Also, take care of all the hardware and software requirements for your remote interview beforehand.

Keep in mind the following things before starting your remote job interview:

  • Turn on your camera to position your chair and frame your face perfectly.
  • Turn off your phone and screen notifications, close all unwanted applications.
  • Make sure your laptop is fully charged and have all your essentials in one place. Use a high-quality microphone and webcam to be at the top of your game.
  • If possible, practice the interview first with a friend, so that you have an idea of how loud you are and where to look while giving the interview.

Explain your motivations about going remote

Almost every company that's hiring for remote workers ask this infamous question: "Why do you want to work remotely?"

By default, you should prepare yourself for all the probable questions you might get, but this one, in particular, is essential. Don't go overboard with your desire to work remotely. Provide proof that you can telecommute easily and work from home very efficiently. Explain why you would be an excellent fit for the remote job.

Maybe you have been working in an office environment your whole life, or you want to spend quality time with your family, and you are a new parent, or you want to travel the world. You should be able to convince your recruiter that you are taking this seriously, and you have a valid reason to do it.

Whatever your intention is, your employer must believe your capability of working from home, that too effectively and productively.

Showcase reliability and be enthusiastic about the interview

Trust is the most crucial factor in remote work. Hiring remotely is a little challenging for the recruiter because they are not sure the person is reliable enough.

Hiring managers are a little skeptical when the candidate has no prior experience. As a prospective candidate, get a leg up on the competition by understanding the value of reliability in remote work.

Demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of asynchronous communication and with people working across different time zones. Showcase yourself being comfortable with the tools of the trade.

Stay upbeat and positive. Also, greet the interviewer enthusiastically and politely and make the interview an exciting conversation. Candidates who act indifferent or unsettled during an interview appear uninterested in the remote job.

Enthusiasm for the remote job gets the interviewee closer to getting hired. Keep in mind that show excitement, but not arrogance.

Prepare the common remote job interview questions

Your resume is selected, and you have landed a remote job interview, congratulations, you have already crossed the hardest hurdle in job search.

Now is the time to prepare for interview questions. Be prepared and plan answers to the most prevalent job interview questions beforehand; so that you’re less likely to be caught off-guard!

How will you schedule and manage your work?

Tip: Sticking to a schedule is essential when you're telecommuting. Mention a tool such as Trello etc. where you would update your task and a shared calendar that shows your availability. Try to bring a strategic plan/proposal to the table, with a clear outline of your work schedule and responsibilities.

Have you worked remotely before, what were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Tip: A documented track record of successful remote work is always appealing to companies hiring for a remote position, so if you have previous experience, describe it. But if you don’t have specific remote work experience, don’t panic! Showcase work experiences where you have finished projects while working from home without direct supervision.

Will you be able to work without in-person supervision and take ownership?

Tip: If you can’t stay productive without a manager following you around, remote work probably isn’t for you. You need to display self-motivation for completing your daily tasks without your manager's supervision. You should take complete ownership of your work and finish it without your manager nagging you to do it.

How are you planning to maintain the quality of your work and productivity, while having distractions at home?

Tip: It is essential to let your manager know that you are completing your daily tasks on time, not just sitting watching TV instead of working at home. Explain how you would give regular updates via Zoom and send weekly updates via email to your entire team. Moreover, tell them you would plan your daily and weekly commitments using tools like Trello or Jira in the presence of your manager.

Do you have home office and a reliable internet connection?

Tip: Make sure you have a productive and practical workspace along with the proper tech and set up to work effectively from home. Have a reliable internet set up along with your home office setup, including a laptop, desk, headphones, etc.

What would you do if you had an urgent question and your team was offline?

Tip: Sometimes, it might happen that you ran into a problem, and your team is not available. You need to assure the recruiter that you are calm and collected when it comes to handling unexpected problems. Tell them you would take an efficient and proactive approach and do your best to address any aspects of the problem that you can on your own.

How will you maintain a healthy balance of work and family time while working from home?

Tip: Working from home means that you'll be able to keep your work life and your personal life balanced. Maybe you have kids at home or a noisy roommate or are sitting in a noisy cafe and working. Interviewers are looking for a subtle answer to this question. The recruiter wants to know how well you manage the distractions while telecommuting. You need to take care that you don't give yourself too much flexibility; you can let an entire workday go by without getting anything done.

What do you think are the most important skills of a remote worker?

Tip: Here are the most important skills every remote worker must possess:

  • Ability to work independently and complete tasks and achieving deadlines.

  • Strong communication skills and being always visible and available in work hours. Being responsive by email, instant messaging, and phone.

  • Having self-motivation to work remotely without in-person supervision.

  • Showcasing the ability to discipline work habits and separate your work time from your family time.

  • Being reliable and flexible while telecommuting.

Ask questions to your Interviewer

Telecommuting has many challenges and concerns. Any candidate seriously interviewing for a remote job should have questions regarding the company and their work policy and about others aspects of working remotely.

Here are a few you should ask:

  • How do you manage regularly scheduled meetings?
  • What communication and collaboration tools does the team use?
  • Are there allowances for home office equipment?
  • What's the average number of leaves an employee can take?
  • What's security strategy for remote workers? Does the company require the use of a particular VPN service?
  • Does the company organise any event or meet ups for the whole team?
  • How does the company figure out local holidays for time off ?

Send a follow up email

After the remote interview, remember to send a follow-up mail to your interviewer. It's not a necessary thing to do, but will go a long way! Send them thanks for considering you for this position and also remind them of the most essential points about your discussion. This would further increase your chances of getting hired.

When it comes to a remote job interview, preparation is vital. Prepping for a remote job interview can often feel overwhelming, but it is worth it. Just prepare for likely scenarios in advance and work through any glitches that might come during the remote interview.

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