Remote jobs are on the rise and more and more people are actively looking for a work-from-home opportunity. While you may look forward to the many benefits of working online, there is one thing that isn’t that much fun. And that is doing the dreaded remote job interview.
Having done many of these interviews myself, both as a potential employee/freelancer and as a client hiring someone, I know a thing or two about the process. In this blog post, I want to share with you my knowledge on how to prepare for a remote job interview, what questions you may get asked, and give you some additional tips to excel and stand out from the candidates.
Remote Job Interview Preparation: This Needs to Be Done
Depending on the company and the requirements, a job interview for a remote position could be conducted locally, so in-office, or it could be done remotely via video call.
I won’t go into the details on how to prepare for a normal interview. You know that you need to get information about the company, prepare questions regarding your position, and be able to talk about your experiences and skills.
All of this is important for a remote job interview, too. But on top of that, there are a few other things that you should pay attention to when having a video call:
If you plan on having the video interview at home, decide where you want to sit. It’s always best to have a dedicated home office, so it looks professional. If you are not quite there, yet, at least make sure that it doesn’t look too casual.
Sitting on the floor of your kids’ room with toys in the back might not be the best idea. Make sure that the background is organized and clean.
If you are currently traveling, your best bet would be a coworking space. Many of them offer video call booths, which are small rooms that are sound-proof, well-lit, and have great internet.
If you don’t have that option, maybe your hotel room might work? A café is a rather dangerous place for a job interview as it can be quite noisy, and the internet is often not reliable.
Yes, it’s the details that count. If you have the window behind you, your face might be in the dark which gives you a bit of a creepy appearance. You most certainly don’t want that look for a remote job interview.
Make sure you are either facing a window (as daylight is always the best) or have a light source in front of you.
Test this before you start the call so you can adjust your setup if needed.
Bonus Tip: Check out this blog post to get some helpful home office gadgets you can use when working from home.
Eliminate all potential noises that could occur during the interview. Nothing more irritating and unprofessional than a barking dog or kids demanding their mom in the middle of salary negotiations. Ask your family or roommates to be quiet.
Also, make sure all windows are closed and your phone and doorbell are on mute.
Additionally, you could use software, such as Krisp, to improve your sound quality. This app mutes all background noises so that the person on the other end of the call won’t get distracted and can hear you clearly.
A remote job interview is just as important as an in-office interview, so treat it like that and dress accordingly! Your ripped jeans and old shirt won’t do it at that moment.
The professional look will also help you get into the “interview-mood”. You feel more professional, and you automatically act like it.
Test your technology well ahead of the interview. Do your camera and your microphone work?
Download the software that your potential employer suggests for the interview, e.g., Skype, GoToMeeting, or Zoom Meetings. Ask a friend or family member to download it, too, so you can make a test call.
Alternatively, you can simply use your computer and your smartphone to give yourself a test call.
What happens quite often is that the software doesn’t recognize your headset or your camera and you need to change the settings. Make sure this is all set and works fine when the interview starts.
Is your internet strong enough for video calls and is it reliable? If you experience internet shortcuts from time to time, work on a backup plan.
For example, you could use your phone as a hotspot to access mobile data from your computer. Make sure you know how to do so. However, this can be expensive and your mobile data could not be strong enough for video calls. Check that beforehand!
Alternatively, organize a mobile hotspot so you can get your WIFI from this device.
If you are currently not at home, check out these tips to improve your internet quality while traveling.
This is an easy one but people forget this so often. Make sure the battery of your laptop or phone is fully charged before the remote job interview or leave it plugged in.
In case you are using wireless headphones or a wireless headset, don’t forget to charge that, too.
8. Tabs & Programs
Make sure to close all other programs and tabs on your computer before starting the interview.
For one, there might be noisy notifications popping up, e.g., incoming emails. And two, programs running in the background might take up bandwidth and can thus slow down your connection which impacts the quality of your call.
9. Time Zone
If that applies to your situation, check what time zone the interview is supposed to be in! It would be extremely unprofessional to be late for the call because you thought it was one hour later.
To not get confused with the different time zones, use tools like Every Time Zone.
Be prepared and have something to take notes with during the interview. A pen and a piece of paper. That shows that you are organized, structured, and are truly interested in what is said during the interview.
Also, let your counterpart know that you are taking notes. In case they can’t see your desk, they might be wondering why you are looking down all the time.
Potential Remote Job Interview Questions
Of course, you need to be prepared for the usual questions that will come up during a job interview, like questions concerning your work experience or former employer.
But there might also be a few things you get asked that are specific to a remote position. Here are a few examples that you should prepare your individual answers for:
- Why do you want to work remotely?
- What kind of work schedule are you looking for?
- How do you schedule and prioritize your work?
- How do you prepare for remote meetings?
- What physical equipment do you need to work remotely?
- What calendar-, task- and project management software have you used before?
- What is one of the biggest challenges you have as a remote worker and how do you deal with it?
- How do you handle the lack of face-to-face contact with your coworkers when working from home?
- How do you keep yourself motivated and engaged when working remotely?
- What are potential distractions in your remote workplace and how do you avoid them?
- What would you do if you had internet connection problems during a meeting?
- What would you do if there’s a time-sensitive problem with a project and the rest of your team is offline?
Think these questions through and write down your answers to be prepared if they come up during the interview.
Important Remote Job Interview Tips
Even if you have prepared the above-mentioned questions, there are still a few topics that are likely to come up during your remote job interview. That is usually your previous remote work experience and your remote work skills.
If you are new to the whole remote work world, these questions can get difficult to answer. Here are a few ideas that could help you:
How to Prove Remote Work Experience in Job Interviews?
Ok, so let’s assume you don’t have any substantial remote work experience, yet.
- But maybe there are any tasks or part-time jobs you have done in the past that were remote?
- Or maybe you were on business trips but still had to do some of your regular in-office tasks while traveling?
- Or you have prepared any meetings or presentations from home?
Try to come up with anything that proves that you know what you are getting yourself into and can do the job.
If you can’t, consider taking up a remote part-time job or freelancing job that you can do on the weekend or in the evenings. You can look for these kinds of jobs on Fiverr, where you don’t have to do any remote job interviews (check out my extensive guide to learn how to make money on Fiverr).
You don’t have to love the job. This is just so you gain a bit more experience in working remotely and have something to show.
How to Prove Remote Work Skills in Job Interviews?
Here are skills that employers typically look for when it comes to remote positions:
- Good time management skills
- High level of discipline
- Excellent communication skills
- Very organized
- Being a problem-solver
Make sure that you mention how you have applied some of these skills in your previous jobs. Although you may have shown those skills in non-remote jobs, give it a little remote twist.
For instance: If you are a great communicator, explain that you feel comfortable using chat platforms, instant messaging, or video conferencing to stay in touch with your team members or customers.
In case collaborations are your strength, you should be able to use online file-sharing platforms, like Google Drive or OneDrive. Also, talk about how you used daily check-ins and regular compact meetings to keep a remote team up to date.
It also helps if you are experienced with popular project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp, as they are often used to maintain communication and a high level of productivity in remote teams.
If you haven’t used any of these, I recommend that you download at least one tool and use it for your private projects for a few weeks. Invite some of your friends or family to test out certain features. It’s no rocket science. But it’s nice to know at least the basics of how they work.
As with any job application, remember to update your business media profiles, such as LinkedIn, accordingly.
Ask Remote-Work-Related Questions
It is not only your potential employer who can ask questions during a remote job interview but also you! Of course, it is in your own interest to prepare general questions regarding the position and the company.
But there are also a few questions that are remote-work-related that you could ask. Here are a few examples:
- What does your remote onboarding process look like?
- What kind of data security measurements do you have in place for your remote workers?
- Is the team international and if so, what time zone do you mostly operate in?
- Is there a budget for home office equipment and software?
- What collaboration and communication tools do you use?
- Do you have regularly scheduled meetings and if so, how often and in what form?
- Is there a specific remote work policy in place?
Write it Down on Paper
Everything that you prepare, write it down on paper. You do not want to switch programs on your computer during a remote job interview! There are two important reasons for this:
- You want to focus entirely on the person you’re having the interview with and have eye contact. Constantly looking somewhere else on your screen breaks the personal connection and could come off rude.
- You might be so nervous that you suddenly can’t find the document with your answers anymore or accidentally close programs like the interview itself. That looks extremely unprofessional and signals that you are not experienced using these tools.
Rock Your Remote Job Interview
As you can see, it’s not that complicated to do a remote job interview. There are many things that you can prepare in advance, like your setup, internet quality, and electronics.
Also, make sure that you are prepared for the most common remote job interview questions. Go through the mentioned list of questions and write down your answers. So in case they come up, you know exactly what to say.
With this, you should be well prepared for your online job interview and there is not much that can go wrong. I hope these tips helped you a bit and your interview is going to be a success. I wish you the best of luck!
In case you have any additional remote job interview tips or have something that helped you in particular, please share it with us in the comments below!