Preparing for a job interview remains the most challenging experience
for job seekers. For first timers, it could even be nerve breaking. Imagine a
situation where you have to combat an ocean of candidates; some of which are
even more desperate than you. Everything about your disposition must be
impressive to your potential employer.
Besides your appearance, you must be able to display a personality that
will convince your interviewer of your untold value and worth. Your statements
have to be coordinated; your answers mustn’t look premeditated; your must have
the right posture; and so on.
Of course, all these are typical of normal work interviews. Now imagine
having to go through the same hurdle on a voice or video call in a different
time zone. A newbie would probably commonize such an arrangement. But that
would be a terrible mistake on your part.
On the contrary, remote work interviews are a bit more challenging
because now you have to prove to a potential employer that you can work
effectively without supervision and also maintain constant communication with
the company. In other words, telecommuting is borders on autonomy and
visibility which both heightens the traits you’re required to exhibit in a
normal office setting.
So if I were you I would never allow a barking dog, a dinner call from a
loved one, or any other form of intrusion to screw my chances of getting my
Like I told you earlier, I was a remote job seeker for 3 months before I
got my present job. Based on my failed attempts at many companies and the
experience I have gathered so far as a remote recruiter, here are some tips I
think you will find most useful when applying for a remote job.
Before the Interview
Check for any
technology issue– Before the
interview, make sure you check and troubleshoot any issue with your computer.
Check if the computer camera is working properly as well as the video
conference software if need be. You can carry out a dry run just to make sure
there are no hitches. It might help to practice with a friend; that way you can
get familiar with the entire set up.
Take care of your
appearance– Just like in-person
interviews, remote interviews also require you to dress professionally. So try
your best to look smart and make sure your background has a good setting. Use
good lighting and keep things neutral. An indoor room is preferable; don’t use
your bedroom. It might help to preview everything so that you can see how you
look before the interviewer.
Get rid of distractions– Ensure there’s nothing in the background
that’s distracting. To prevent any noise, shut the doors and windows and also
keep the dogs and cats away; this is serious business. Your mobile phone should
be switched off or set to silent. The last thing you want is for your phone to
ring during an interview session. Also inform your family members or roommate
about your interview so they can stay away from the background. Distractions
are not only annoying to interviewers; they can also make you lose focus.
Don’t be in hurry– If required; give yourself a little more
time. Some interviewers may want to go beyond the normal time that was
scheduled for the interview just to know you better. This is a good sign and
you should you should use it to your advantage.
What are the questions to expect?
Regardless of the company, when applying for a remote job, you will be
expected to demonstrate that:
- You will
always be available to respond to calls and messages no matter the time zone
- You can bring
in ideas and processes that will be beneficial to a workforce that is
- You have
great communication skills and listening ability
- You know how
to effective use technology so that limitation imposed by distance is not felt
- You are
highly composed (organised) and accountable for the tasks assigned to you
- You can
perform your own quality assurance on deliverables before asking for feedback
from your team members
With this in mind let’s briefly consider some of the most common
questions that pop up during your interview and the areas they are meant to
Do you have any remote work experience?
Recruiters want to know if you have the ability to work on your own.
Though you have a greater advantage if you have a previous remote experience,
however, you should still provide a good answer if you’ve never worked
remotely. Since the emphasis here is to show the interviewer that you can work
independently, try to come up with any experience that relates to any
independent work you’ve done in the past even though it’s not an actual remote
For instance, does your current work in a traditional office require you
to work a lot on your own (a good example is photo editing)? It might not even
be your current job; it might be something else. As long as it was a task you
were able to accomplish independently, feel free to mention it.
What is your daily schedule?
Here you need to show the interviewer how well you know yourself. This
includes your daily schedule and the hours of the daily when you are most
productive; whether you fit as a night owl or the type that leaps out of bed
and gets straight to work. Your interviewer will also want to know the
strategies you employ in organizing your work so you don’t go off track.
Your daily schedule should appeal to you naturally. If you struggle to
keep to it, then it’s not really your rhythm. So make sure you understand what
works best for you before you provide an answer to this question.
What are your modes of communication?
When working as a digital nomad, you might never get an opportunity to
speak with a colleague in your team face to face. The only way to stay in touch
is through virtual means. This means you need to have reliable communication
tools on hand in order to maintain contact with your team.
So you will need to show your interviewer that you are proficient in
using various digital communication technologies such as online chats, email,
project management software, video hangouts and others. It is common for the
company to suggest some of these tools or ask you to choose the one that works
best for you.
What are the things you need to create a productive workspace?
The reason for this question is obvious. Your interviewer is trying to
find out if you are really aware of the tools you need to set up a remote
office. Sometimes the company might provide you with certain equipment if they
decide to hire you. However, it’s important for you to understand all the
physical aspects of creating a productive workspace.
I have already discussed the major requirements of a remote workspace.
Feel free to refer to chapter 2 if you forgot anything. Make sure you do your
best to paint a picture of an ideal workspace.
Do you have a home office?
When it comes to remote work, preparation matters a lot. This is why we
devoted a whole chapter for preparing a workstation. Like I pointed out
earlier, it’s very important to have your personal office space ready at home
or in town before moving forward to apply for remote jobs.
Although, sometimes you might work from a coffee shop or a bus station,
no manager would like to hear that or they might not take you seriously. Coffee
shops or other public places are filled with prying eyes and employers don’t
want them seeing confidential information.
You might want to review the basic equipment you need to setup a home office here.
How do you deal with distractions?
Besides the need to enjoy greater flexibility and location independence,
one of the other reasons for telecommuting is to get away from the distractions
common in corporate environments. It would not be nice if you allow some of
these distractions to re-surface again in your own cubicle.
Failure to properly handle these distractions can affect your
productivity to a large extent. So it’s important you know how to deal with
them so they don’t affect your performance and work flow.
Working remotely should never be used as an excuse for full parenting.
So make sure you have a good answer ready on how to address the issue. I
suggest you set up some rules to tame the force of chaos that might result from
having your kids or spouse around.
- No loud music
(or none at all) before 6pm
interruptions except it’s really important
- No pets
around when am working (a cat might less of a distractions except when it
insist on sleeping on your computer)
Things you want to
- Close your
office if you can; you will do more work that way
- Turn off
- Always set a
- Set deadlines
- Change your
work station occasionally
- Don’t remain
More tips to ace your
Start a side project– most remote
jobs especially in tech requires a lot of creativity and accountability. You
must be able to show potential employers that you can take on tasks with little
or no supervision. Side projects helps to you to get the nod in this area.
They don’t need to be
anything huge; just something that showcases the skills you claim. For
instance, for programmers, these can range from personal projects to
contributions to open source projects.
Become a better writer – Since nonverbal communication is mostly adopted in remote work,
employees are often required to possess strong writing ability. Many companies
usually include this among their requirements. However, most times this issue
might pop up during your interview.
So if you’re not
already proficient in your writing, you might want to work on it. This doesn’t
mean you should be a master of prose. However, you must be able to communicate
effectively in written form.
From everything I’ve written so far, it’s obvious am not a bad writer. Even though I might never be able to write like Wole Soyinka, Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, am sure I have been clear enough; which is the most important thing.
Improve your planning and organizational skills– if you don’t know about project
management, then you should learn about it before you even start applying for
any remote position. Even if you don’t end up working in a team, you will still
be required to constantly interact with your boss.
Companies employ various project management systems to plan and organize their projects and workflow. This is why it’s very important to know the basics the most common methodologies in the industry as this will help prepare you for whatever system adopted by your potential employer.
To Wrap it Up
I will draw the curtains here. I think I have covered most of what you need (if not all) to prepare and ace any remote job interview. Feel free to ask me your questions in the comment section or at least let me know if you enjoyed the article.