Many of us transitioned to remote or hybrid work styles within the past couple of years. Some of us were even working remotely before then. Others have little experience with anything but an office environment.
No matter what your experience, if you’re interviewing for a remote job, you can expect certain questions pertaining to this style of work. After all, it requires different skillsets — ones you may not have encountered in an office environment. And hiring managers want to know that you’re equipped to deal with the challenges associated with remote work.
1. Have you worked remotely previously?
This may seem like a gimme — you either have or haven’t worked remotely in the past — but how you respond requires some nuance. The interviewer is looking to see whether you’ve been through it before so you know how to cope when obstacles arise. If you haven’t worked remotely before, then you’ll need to think about what you would do in this type of situation.
How to respond
If you have worked remotely, you should describe how you adjusted and how you’ve managed to be successful. Give some examples of challenges you encountered and what you did to overcome them.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t worked remotely, discuss why the style appeals to you. Describe what you believe the benefits are and how you plan to deal with challenges you envision encountering. The point is to demonstrate that you’ve thought carefully about this.
2. How do you collaborate with distributed teams?
Working with colleagues in different locations — possibly even on other continents — can be difficult. You won’t always be able to expect a response immediately. Conflicts can arise, and you can’t always address them in real-time. You also aren’t necessarily equipped for synchronous interactions, and if you have strict deadlines, this can be frustrating.
How to respond
Be thoughtful with your approach. In your answer, describe both the tools and platforms you have used to communicate with distributed teams, as well as your methods for developing rapport with people you will probably never meet face to face. For example, you might mention that you’ve had virtual coffee “getting-to-know-you” meetings with new team members.
3. Where do you do your best work?
This question speaks to your system of organization, which is critical for doing your best work remotely. The interviewer wants to understand your setup and how conducive it is to stay productive and on task.
How to respond
Be honest! Describe the tools and platforms you have to help you work from home, such as a secure wifi connection, a quiet space for doing work and so on. Remember that there’s no perfect response to this — the interviewer will understand that people work differently — although there are some wrong ones. For example, it’s not ideal to say, “I work best lying down in bed.”
If possible, show your space to the interviewer in a video call.
4. How do you deal with distractions?
You’re dealing with different types of distractions in a remote environment than in an on-site one. It’s important to have a plan in place for when they arise — because they will, even if you live alone in the quietest apartment in the world.
How to respond
Give some examples of distractions that you’ve faced in the past. Perhaps it’s a partner who’s also working from home or a noisy child. Maybe there’s been construction outside your window.
Be specific about what you’ve done — bought noise-canceling headphones, set your phone to “do not disturb” or whatever works best for your particular situation. While the interviewer doesn’t expect distractions to just disappear, they want to know that you have a plan for staying focused.
As you’ve probably noticed, the common theme here is to show that you’re reflective and thoughtful about the unique challenges of remote work. Remember: no one is perfect. You will face obstacles when working remotely, just as you do in an on-site environment — but it’s how you approach them that matters.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.