What is an interview? According to an online search, “interview” comes from the French word “s’entrevue,” loosely translated as “to see each other about a view.” With this in mind, we could look at interviews as an opportunity to share information and collaborate on a successful partnership, rather than the interviewee merely trying to “get the job.” It is an exchange between two parties seeking a mutual goal: to find out if there is the basis for a successful working relationship.
One of the obvious impacts of the pandemic is that there are more remote opportunities than ever before. Preparing questions specific to what a remote role will look like is key to understanding the expectations and determining if the role fits your own needs and career goals.
Here, we’ve outlined 11 questions that you could incorporate when you’re interviewing for remote roles to determine if this role is for you!
11 Questions to Ask if You’re Interviewing for a Remote Role
1. Is everyone at the organization, and on the team, working from home or are there some individuals working from the office?
Asking this question will help you understand the company structure, what communication channels are present, and what it may look like to work with the team. Perhaps most important, the answer will give you an idea of the leader’s ability to evaluate your work and ensure that you are considered for opportunities, even though you are working remotely.
2. What is the onboarding process? What kind of training will be provided to the successful candidate and how will that be delivered?
Onboarding in this new environment runs the full gamut from “here’s your laptop” to a robust onboarding program not unlike in-person onboarding. Depending on your needs/expectations, both extremes may work. It’s just important to know what you’re stepping into!
3. What challenges have you already encountered with remote work and how have you overcome them?
If the organization did not already have a significant remote workforce before the pandemic, then they will have encountered issues. Most important here is understanding how they handled them. This is kind of like behavioural interviewing in reverse! Ask this question to see if the company is proactive and supportive in handling the unique challenges of remote work.
4. Do you anticipate that this will continue to be a remote role once COVID-19 restrictions change?
Roles that are currently being advertised as remote may change in the future once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Make sure you are clear on expectations and ensure it lines up with what you’re looking for in the long-term.
5. How do you provide feedback and measure success for employees working remotely?
Is your prospective leader committed to providing feedback to remote employees? Do they have procedures in place to measure your success as a remote employee? If there doesn’t seem to be a clear plan in place, suggest one. You might throw out the idea of a weekly meeting where you could both share information, wins, and just connect. The response to your idea is key. If they are open to your suggestion or suggest an alternative, then you’re on the right track. Be wary if they deflect.
6. What are the expectations around hours with this being a remote role? Are employees expected to work traditional office hours, or is there some flexibility?
Let’s check on assumptions. Working remotely does not necessarily equal working non-traditional hours. Another question you might ask is what’s most important? Is it about being available during those traditional 8 hours a day, or is it about deliverables? The answer to this question should give you some keen insights into the philosophy of both your prospective leader and the organization and, most importantly, give you some ideas on whether you want to work there at all!
7. What opportunities exist for advancement from remote roles?
If you work remotely, are there opportunities for advancement? Would you have a shot at the juicy projects/assignments? Or are they reserved for in-office staff? Are there leaders working remotely? Ask for an example of someone who has moved into a leadership role or led a major project or moved into a role that you would be very interested in, while working remotely.
8. Is it expected that I stay in the city or country, or can I work from other locations?
Ah yes, are you truly a remote organization or are you a “work from home” organization? A subtle difference that could be major depending on your expectations. Again, check on assumptions.
9. How are remote team members supported?
Are you expected to provide your own office equipment? What about ergonomics? Are they providing chairs, desks, monitors, risers to keep you healthy or is this up to you? If your computer goes down or you can’t figure out a new program, is there someone you can contact? Do they provide an allowance for mobile phones, internet costs and other expenses that you will incur while working from home? All important things to clarify before accepting a remote position.
10. Am I required to visit the office or travel to other locations in this role? If so, what does that look like?
Are you someone who loves to travel and meet new people, or are you looking for a role that lets you stay at home as much as possible? If the role involves travel and/or in-person meetings from time-to-time, it’s important to know that at the outset.
11. What platforms are being used at the organization and within the team? What other tools and systems do you use for communication? Are there daily check-in calls, weekly meetings, and so on?
Has the organization integrated the use of Zoom, MS Teams, Webex or other video conferencing platforms as a way for teams to stay connected? If there are regular meetings, get an idea of when meetings occur and what the reasons for the meeting are (for example, download information or make decisions?). Do they have remote “social” meetings that are not business related? If you’re someone who likes to feel like you’re part of a close-knit team, these check-in points may be essential.
We hope these questions help to serve as a guide for your remote work interviews. We also hope that leaders and HR professionals think about how they’re going to answer these questions!
Please feel free to join the conversation and add your thoughts!
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