There are so many reasons to want to get a remote job; rolling out of bed to be just feet from your office, having home-cooked lunches every day, and spending the day with your dog or kids.
The problem is that these reasons aren’t what employers look for in remote job interviews.
Remote work comes with a specific set of challenges, and interviewers know the questions to ask to figure out if you’re going to thrive in a remote position.
If you want to land a remote job, we’ve put together this guide to show you what to say during your interview to wow your potential employer.
How are Remote Job Interviews Different from Regular Interviews?
Remote work requires a totally different skill set than working in the office. Although you’ll be doing the same job, you will need to adopt a different work style, so employers will be looking for those skills during the interview process.
During a remote interview, you’ll be asked a lot more questions about the remote side of the job. After all, if you’re not self-motivated and don’t work well alone, you’re probably not going to land a remote position.
Hiring managers are well aware of the drawbacks and challenges of remote work, and they know the kinds of questions to ask to make sure you’re right for the role. This is why it’s so important to prepare for a remote job interview and get some great answers lined up to wow your prospective employer.
5 Strategies for Successful Remote Job Interviews
Before you load up Zoom and patiently wait for the interview to start, let’s cover some important remote interviewing strategies to get you prepared.
Do Your Research
Just like a normal job interview, research the company beforehand to show you align with the company culture. Here are a few things you should know about the company before the interview:
- Who will be conducting the interview, and what is their role?
- What is the company ethos and culture?
- How many people do they employ?
- What is their brand identity?
- Who is their target audience?
During your interview, you need to demonstrate how well you’d fit into the company. The more you know about its brand identity, culture, and ethos, the easier this will be.
You also need to understand the role you’re applying for and the responsibilities you’ll have. You need to demonstrate that you’re competent in the expected roles and know how to fit into your new job easily.
Get Your Tech Ready
Whether you’re going to be interviewed over Zoom, Google, or an internal video link, practice getting the technology set up and make sure you have a stable internet connection.
A remote job will require a lot of online meetings, so you want to show you are capable of using this tech well. If you have a dodgy internet connection that keeps freezing, the interviewer is going to see that as a red flag.
Create a Professional Virtual Presence
Once you’ve got the hang of the interview tech, it’s time to create a professional virtual presence.
Set up a clean, professional-looking background. If you have a home office, a blank wall with minimal artwork or a styled bookshelf will work great.
If you don’t have a clear space, think about setting up a virtual background to give it a cleaner look.
You should also make sure your camera is good quality and the lighting is optimal. If you have a blurry camera and dim lighting, you’re going to give the wrong impression.
A simple ring light and some natural light from a nearby window are all you need to give a bright, professional look.
Finally, dress appropriately for your interview. Although it’s remote, you should still wear a suit or business attire to appear professional in front of interviewers. Save your PJs for when you’ve landed the position!
If you’ve never done a remote job interview before, it’s good to get some practice appearing on camera. At first, it can feel strange talking into a screen and sitting professionally, so start with a few Zoom chats with a friend or colleague to get comfortable with it.
When you’re in the interview, try to look into the camera to make eye contact and sit up straight without fidgeting. Speak clearly and confidently and show you’re comfortable using online tools.
We tend to want to look at the image of ourselves when we’re on Zoom and other video chats, but it’s distracting and makes you look like you’re not paying attention.
“If you’re unsure about how to pronounce an interviewer’s name or a product at the company, AI tools can be great for getting prepared. They’ll show you how to pronounce names, places, and industry jargon correctly so you’re not caught short during your interview.” – David Ciccarelli from voices.ai
Showcase Your Adaptability and Problem-Solving Skills
If there is ever a time to brag, it’s during a remote job interview. Interviewers want to hear all about your past successes and any stories that highlight your skills.
Talk about your past positions and any experience you’ve had working remotely. If you’ve never had a remote job before, try to think of examples of adapting to different work environments to show you’re capable of change and will adapt well to a remote position.
You’ll likely get asked about how you’ll solve problems while working remotely, so do some research into how you’ll communicate with your boss while working from home and how you can overcome challenges without a team beside you.
Must-Have Responses for Remote Job Interviews
Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people get asked at remote job interviews and how you can answer them effectively.
Why do you want to work from home?
Now, this might not be the time to be too forthcoming. If you need a remote job because you have four kids and two cats that need your time and attention, that’s not going to sit well with your potential employers.
Instead, talk about how you thrive working alone and prefer a quiet environment with fewer distractions. If you can, talk about previous roles where you’ve had success working remotely or solo and emphasize how this is an opportunity for you to thrive.
How do you stay motivated when working remotely?
Interviewers want to know that you’ll get your work done when you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder.
To answer this question, talk about your experience managing your time effectively and staying motivated when you were left to your own devices.
You can also talk about how you plan on prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines. The more you can show you’re self-motivated and thrive when working alone, the happier your interviewer will be.
“It’s good to tailor your answers to the specific role you’re applying for. For example, if it’s a marketing position, you could talk about how you use digital marketing tools to help with time management and project deadlines.” – Ryan Ratkowski from Cascade Interactive
How do you communicate with a remote team?
No matter what position you’re applying for, there will be aspects of the job that require team meetings and collaboration.
This is the time to talk about any digital tools you’re already familiar with and how you would stay in touch regularly with your team.
“There are so many tools out there to help you stay connected with your colleagues and foster teamwork. Your prospective employer will already use specific tools, but it’s good to demonstrate you are capable of using these tools and can adapt quickly to different tech.” – Kelly Indah from Increditools
How will you solve problems you face while working remotely?
A key skill any remote worker needs to have is good problem-solving. You won’t be able to talk to your manager as quickly as you would in the office, so you need to be able to find solutions for yourself so you don’t fall behind on projects.
If a question like this comes up, give some examples of times you solved problems autonomously and overcame challenges without the input of your superior.
You can also talk about how you go about solving problems and the process of making informed decisions based on the information you have.
If you’re totally stuck, ask the interviewer for an example of a common problem someone in the position might face and talk them through how you would handle it specifically. This shows a great level of autonomy and places you in the role in their mind.
What challenges will you face working remotely?
This is an opportunity to highlight ways an employer can assist you while you work remotely. If you’ve had previous remote jobs where you found it extremely difficult to get support from your boss, be honest, and talk about how you think you can overcome that challenge this time.
However, it’s probably best not to mention the challenge of avoiding that new series on Netflix you’ve been dying to binge.
What do you dislike about working in an office?
This is another common question to gauge whether you’re suited to working remotely. Talk about how you prefer quiet space to work and perhaps how you find work chatter distracting.
If you’ve worked in an office previously and have specific concerns you’re looking to get away from with remote work, you could talk about those.
However, there might come a time when you’re needed in the office for an important client meeting or another interview, so it’s also good to communicate how you can work within an office effectively but prefer your own WFH space.
Addressing Potential Concerns
Each interviewer will have some concerns in mind regarding remote work. In general, they’ll worry about productivity, communication, and collaboration. It’s also important for employers to support their remote workers’ mental health, so they need resilient workers suited to a more isolated role.
Ask your interviewer if they have any specific concerns about the remote role, and then emphasize how you can overcome these.
Overall, you need to show a commitment to maintaining productivity, regular team communication, and a resilient attitude.
Remote work isn’t easy, so these should be genuine qualities you possess in order to thrive working from home.
Follow-Up and Thank You
Once the interview is over, don’t forget to send a follow-up email expressing your gratitude for the opportunity.
In the email, reiterate your interest in the position and your willingness to discuss the next steps.
Most people don’t bother with a follow-up email, so this will help you stand out as a candidate and show the interviewer that you are keen on the position.
Here’s a quick template you can use if you’re struggling to word your follow-up email:
Hi [Interviewer Name],
Thank you so much for meeting with me yesterday; it was a pleasure to learn more about the position and team. I’m excited about the opportunity to join [Company Name] and help [quickly describe your role] remotely.
I’d love to know more about the next steps in the hiring process, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.
Don’t forget to include a professional email signature with your name, contact info, and a link to your LinkedIn page (which should be filled out and completed!).
The truth is remote work isn’t for everyone. It can be isolating and lonely, and you’ll need a lot of motivation to make yourself get your work done when there are so many distractions at home.
But a lot of people thrive in remote positions. The key is showing potential employers that you are suited to a remote job and would do your best work while working from home.
Do as much prep before your interview as possible, and you’ll smash your remote job interview in no time.