An increasing number of people are actively searching for remote work and adopting it in place of the 9-5. As the competition grows fierce, learn how to make the perfect first impression in your remote interview.

Ace that Gritting Remote Interview

  • 99% of the respondents to a Buffer survey said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
  • Another Zapier survey found that 26% of knowledge workers have quit a job because the company did not offer the option to work remotely or have a flexible work schedule.

Companies are now recognizing that flexible and remote work is a recurring demand from talented workers. As they concede to it, they also discover that remote work is good for the business. But competition is fierce and in order to get hired for that remote role you so want, you have to impress everyone at the interviewing table. 

To begin with, here is some quick logic for the interview:

  • Figure out a venue. You might not want to do this at a coffee shop, but at a quieter place where there would be no distractions like people walking past or the sound of grinding coffee beans. 
  • Be punctual: Ensure that you’re prompt and available to either make the call or answer it well before time. 
  • Prepare for all kinds of internet or hardware malfunction. What if the audio or video stops working? How will you handle it? Script a graceful response if needed. 
  • Make sure you have complete privacy when you’re being interviewed. It’s adorable to see a two-year-old walk in but it can be extremely distracting for both the interviewee and interviewer. 
  • Also, pay attention to the small bits: Where’s the camera placed? Is there eye contact? Make sure your camera angle doesn’t omit your face, or that there’s not too much or too little light on you. 
  • Turn off notifications: It’s funny how many people forget to do this. Put yourself on “do not disturb,” and ensure there are no pings or pop-ups on the screen.
  • Dress professionally. It may be a remote interview but you want to impress upon the interviewee that you take your job seriously. 
  • Finally, remember to relax, smile, and engage with the interviewee good-naturedly. 

Now that some of the D-Day etiquette is out of our way, here are some tips on how to prepare for the content of the interview:

1. Be able to articulate why remote works for you

Don’t let the interviewer asking, “why remote?” take you by surprise. It’s important to show that you have a strong rationale for choosing work that doesn’t need you to be in an office every day. It might also be worthwhile to think of a more positive answer as opposed to saying “I hate the office environment or showing up to work every day.” 

Try a more thoughtful response around productivity and efficiency. Is it that you find yourself achieving more if you work remotely? Does remote work help you find more time for yourself, which, in turn, makes you a happier, more efficient worker? Offer a positive spin that shows your enthusiasm towards remote work, not simply a dislike for office spaces.

2. Demonstrate that you’re proactive 

Interviewers want to know that you won’t slack. That just because you don’t physically work in a traditional office space, you won’t be a passive team member. Here’s where you talk about how proactive you are even when you work out of a home office. Offer instances of how while communicating with your previous teams on group chats, you ace at connecting with colleagues to offer assistance, give/receive feedback, and play a pivotal role in problem-solving. 

3. Show that you are self-driven

Proactive is one attribute, another is drive and passion towards not just remote work but the job you’re interviewing for. Research the position on offer and pepper your answers both with knowledge of what you may be required to do and instances of how you have achieved value previously—in a similar role or as a remote worker. As the work is remote, talk about how you take initiative to research and leverage technological tools to streamline processes and work synchronously with team members around the world. 

4. Show that you don’t need to be in-person to communicate 

This might be obvious but still needs to be reiterated. A reason why companies insist on in-office work is because they believe team members who sit together, communicate better. Use this opportunity to talk about how you have successfully communicated to excel at work: Explain how you use all communication tools from email, video conference, and online chat programs like Slack to ensure everyone in the team is updated. 

5. Tell them about the impact you’ve already had

Companies like hiring those who don’t hesitate in making their work visible and talking about the value it brought to their lives and the companies they worked for. Whether you collaborated with a colleague or achieved a project for your client by yourself, talk about how your presence can be impactful for the company. 

6. Be ready for surprising questions 

Your interview might or might not be technically focused but be prepared for difficult questions around remote work: From something as simple as “How do you prevent distraction if you work at home?” to “How do you stop your personal life from taking over when you’re at home?’, to even, “How will you manage if any of the tech tools break down?”, get ready for some challenging interrogation.

7. Don’t pretend to be available 24×7

There’s a reason you’re looking for a remote job and that is to be able to balance work and life, so don’t promise omnipresence. It’s good to set boundaries and have a discussion about the company’s working hours, times when everyone is required to log in, meeting times, and their policy on the use of video cameras for video chats, etc. 

8. Ask questions of the company

Either in an in-person interview or remote, it’s advisable to ask questions of the company. They should know that you’re a valued candidate who has other opportunities available to them. So ask both logistical questions about what tools the company uses, what is their policy on leaves, budget on home office equipment, to questions about your career graph, mentoring, to how the company will help you be successful in your remote role.

These are some tips on how to ensure the interviewer knows you’re well-versed with remote work and can comfortably handle a new role. But, what if you don’t have remote work experience? 

A lot of companies might want to hear instances of how you succeeded in your last remote job, but what if you have no such experience? At this point, anything you say about your time management abilities might seem naive. But it’s important to show you’re self-disciplined and motivated, so talk about your previous projects—in college or anywhere else you worked.

Speak about how you structured work, what kind of challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them. Remember to also speak about the process: perhaps you used some of the same tools that remote workers use and can make a case for why, regardless of similar experience, you will make a good remote worker. 

Finally, interviews—remote or otherwise—can be nerve-wracking. While nervousness might help you perform better, remember to also relax and enjoy the experience and possibility of new work and newer challenges. 


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