In this guide, Mock Questions walks you through 10 popular work-from-home interview questions. We review the purpose of each question and teach you how to craft the best answer. We also show you what to avoid saying when giving a reply, ensuring that you ace your interview! Use this guide to craft the best responses to the most common work-from-home job interview questions.
Perhaps you have recently shifted to a work-from-home situation, or maybe you have worked from home for years. No matter your job, there is a chance your approach to work has changed since the 2020 COVID-19 crisis.
Stats show us that nearly half of North America's workforce is now working from home. Companies like Toptal boast an entirely virtual workforce, and flagship organizations like American Express employ a significant number of work-from-home employees.
This shift is becoming increasingly popular as many companies begin to realize that they can operate leaner by leveraging work-from-home options.
From a company's perspective, offering a remote job opportunity means opening the candidate pool to more than just the talent available in their area.
Remote work opportunities can often mean significant savings with fewer people requiring a physical office space or expensive downtown parking, for instance.
Some studies show that home-based employees are more productive; however, that perspective hears arguments from numerous angles.
Some reports visit the fact that remote employees are more likely to work overtime when needed. However, this overtime may not mean that these employees are more productive.
There are many bonus factors when considering a work-from-home position. Remote workers save a lot of money every year on costs such as dry cleaning, take-out lunches, fuel, time saved from a long commute, and the possible car insurance savings often associated with working from home.
Some studies have suggested that people who work from home are healthier since they are exposed less frequently to co-workers who come in despite having a terrible cold.
It isn't all roses, however, which is why a smart hiring manager will ask questions that specifically target your readiness and ability to handle the unique challenges associated with working from home.
These challenges include:
It is crucial to be prepared with realistic and actionable answers to address these common work-from-home challenges.
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know which systems and processes you have in place (or plan to put in place) to ensure productivity while working from home.
HOW TO ANSWER: Offer a high-level review of how you plan your day. Highlight the fact that you are well-organized and able to lead yourself and your tasks independently. The interviewer wants to see that you have structure. For instance, if you abide by the method of time-blocking your tasks, be sure to discuss this time-blocking and give a supporting example. If possible, walk the interviewer through a typical day in your current role, highlighting what you do to remain on task and schedule.
WHAT TO AVOID: You will want to avoid sounding like a person who goes where the wind takes them. The interviewer will not want to hear that you just go with the flow, addressing tasks and issues only as they arise.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I prefer to plan my week ahead of time and then, at the end of the day, revisit what I would like to achieve for the following workday. I use Google Tasks where I can manage my lists from my Gmail, make quick changes as my priorities shift, and rearrange my priorities if needed. I try to avoid overloading my daily schedule, allowing me room to add on unexpected tasks. I also reserve time for different touch points throughout the day so that I can check in with my leadership team and co-workers, ensuring that our projects and deliverables are on track."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know your motivation behind seeking out this specific type of employment opportunity.
HOW TO ANSWER: Showcase the reasons behind your desire to work from home by highlighting the top benefits for yourself and the hiring company. Put a spotlight on the fact that you work quickly and are most productive when you can wake up and get to it!
WHAT TO AVOID: Sure, life is often more comfortable when working from home. However, avoid diving into personal reasons for wanting to work at home, such as being able to do kiddie carpool or accept deliveries more easily! Of course, these can be perks to working from home, but it's best only to highlight professional rather than personal reasons.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I find that when working from home, I can be more productive since I spend much less time commuting. In my current role, before I shifted to a home-based office, my commute was two hours per day. This time was valuable, and I knew it could be better utilized. Now, I complete around 90% of my work virtually. I go into the office a couple of days per month for tasks that require more face-to-face interaction. I want to continue working from home to use my current commute time to deliver more work and produce further results for my employer. Since I already work virtually, I have a full work-from-home setup, ready to go!"
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to be able to picture you in your day-to-day tasks. They want to understand the methods and systems that you have in place to ensure success and productivity. Essentially, the hiring manager is asking, what do you do all day?
HOW TO ANSWER: Take the interviewer through a high-level overview of your daily activities. Keep your answer clear and provide enough detail to allow the hiring authority to picture you doing their job with ease!
WHAT TO AVOID: Many interviewees hear a question like this and begin providing an hourly breakdown of their day. Instead, take a few of your essential tasks and discuss your approach. Avoid offering too many details, such as what you typically do for breakfast. Keep your details entirely work-related.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "Each morning, I log into my work system 15 minutes early, allowing me to boot up my computer and get settled before most of the team arrives for our virtual morning huddle. We have our morning meeting first, and then I get to my tasks. My routine includes checking my voicemail and email and then looking at my priorities list for the day. My primary duties as a virtual project manager include updating task lists and nudging team members for updates. I also make changes to schedule deliverables in real-time. I check in with my leaders at least twice a day with updates on any hiccups or communication challenges. I have a 24-hour response philosophy meaning that I never allow anyone to wait more than a day for a response. For that reason, before logging off, I double-check that I have returned all voicemails and emails. My days are well-structured, but I do have my cell phone on so that if any work emergencies arise after my typical 8-5, I can quickly make myself available to assist."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know that you can handle the often tricky balance when having your office inside of your home.
HOW TO ANSWER: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be a significant challenge for employees. It's a valid concern for employers when considering the introduction of a WFM role. Show that you are cooperative and willing to do what it takes to get the job done without putting yourself into an agreement that you will regret. When you respond, be true to yourself and answer in a way that you can commit to, should you be hired.
WHAT TO AVOID: You want to show the interviewer that you work hard and are flexible with your time when needed, but you also want to avoid looking like a workaholic. Gone are the days where being a workaholic is a selling factor for employers. Most companies now agree that the workaholic mentality is an unhealthy practice that leads to burnout and high employee turnover.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I am completely present during work hours, and outside of work hours, give my all to my family. However, I do work in the evenings and weekends when we need an extra push on a project. To ensure that I do not burn out or ever feel overwhelmed with my work volume, I keep a healthy balance by giving myself a dedicated lunch break where I take a walk outside and refresh my eyes from looking at the computer. On weekends, I turn email notifications off on my phone, but my boss is aware that she can reach me through text message if an emergency comes through. In short, I can jump into work whenever necessary while also being mindful of my need for personal rejuvenation."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know that you have realistic expectations when working from home.
HOW TO ANSWER: Employees often romanticize the idea of working from home. In reality, they end up disliking the WFH setup and quitting. Although technology can do incredible things, we are all social creatures who need personal connection. Even the most introverted people require face-to-face interaction now and then. Show the interviewer that you have done your research and that you understand working from home can feel a bit lonely at times. Highlight how you will cope with this reality and thrive in your new environment. If you have successfully worked from home in the past, discuss how you made it work for you!
WHAT TO AVOID: Everyone needs human interaction, so avoid brushing this question off in a way that shows you are completely okay with a lack of face-to-face opportunities. An 'I don't need to be around people' approach is unrealistic and will be a red flag for the interviewer.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "Remote work can have its challenges, including a lack of face-to-face interaction. I am a social person, so to combat the potential loneliness, I will choose a video call over sending a string of emails when it's appropriate to do so. My current company has in-person meetups every quarter, and I make it a habit to attend those events. I also maintain a healthy social life on the weekends, which I find very fulfilling. Rest assured, I do what I can to ensure that the human touch remains in my day-to-day schedule while still leveraging technology to be productive."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know that you have put critical thought into your workspace.
HOW TO ANSWER: Crucial factors for work-from-home success include your tech and tools. Discuss your computer system, internet connection, and comfortability with specific apps, platforms, software, and tech. Discuss how you have arranged your workspace and that you are ready for remote work success. Show that you are prepared to rely on the tech and tools needed to fit into this role and do a fantastic job!
WHAT TO AVOID: You should not wait for your potential employer to set you up with what you need to work from home. Yes, the company may provide you with a laptop or IT support; however, it's best to show that you have put thought into factors such as your dedicated workspace and key equipment/tools.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "Leaning on the right technology and business tools is one of the primary keys to work-from-home success. I have an excellent work-from-home set up. I have a new laptop, a strong internet connection, and keep business accounts with key tools such as Zoom, Monday, and Slack. I also lean on my Google Calendar, which integrates with my scheduling tools, ensuring that I remain on track with deliverables despite being outside of an office environment where accountability is often more highly enforced. I color-code my tasks and have never missed a deadline regardless of my work environment. If you want me to use any specific technology or tools in this role, I am happy to familiarize myself with them to ensure that I have a strong head start."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to know that you are a savvy and resourceful go-getter who can fix a problem from your remote office with a clear head and determination.
HOW TO ANSWER: We all expect our tools and technology to work when we need them; however, that is not reality 100% of the time. The internet goes down, apps randomly quit, and messages don't always come through as fast as we'd like. Highlight that you are keen on planning, but also realistic that technology can present unexpected hiccups. Walk the interviewer through the steps that you would take to troubleshoot and solve when a tech-related situation goes awry. If you have an example of a time when you handled this type of situation, give a brief story that highlights your good judgment and resourcefulness.
WHAT TO AVOID: Avoid mentioning that you are not tech-savvy or that you would wait for your employer to present a solution. The hiring manager needs to feel secure in the fact that you would jump into action and do what you could to find an answer to a technology roadblock.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "When I encounter a tech issue, I do everything within my power to address the problem independently. If I hit a wall where the resolution is beyond my reach, I will reach out to an IT support person."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer is looking for traits and patterns of independent thinking. When you are confident in your abilities, you will not shy away from situations that require an extra communication push.
HOW TO ANSWER: This behavioral-based interview question is best answered by using an example from your past. Rather than just telling the interviewer that you are an excellent communicator in the face of a challenge, try to show them as well. You can take a story-example from your past and give a brief overview.
WHAT TO AVOID: You don't want to sound casual about communication issues. Give a specific example of your strong communication skills. Now is not the time to be vague about your approach to communication!
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "If I had a communication issue arise, the first thing I would do is pick up the phone and work the situation out. Whether the issue is with a supplier, a team member, or a client, I believe there is no replacement for a real-time voice conversation. One example of my communication skills in action is when I had a supplier cancel our order due to an inventory issue, just days before we were expecting it to arrive. The supplier sent a brief email that I felt was unapologetic and brief. Rather than sending a sharp email back, I picked up the phone and called the supplier. We did some collective troubleshooting, and I was able to make a small change to the order, which allowed us to receive a portion of the inventory right away, and the remainder two weeks later. Had I reacted out of impulse and gave the supplier an email in return, there would have been no opportunity to iron out the situation. I am a strong communicator and am willing to have a productive conversation at any time, rather than relying solely on email."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants to see that you can regulate yourself without being micromanaged.
HOW TO ANSWER: We all have days where motivation is hard to come by. Show the hiring authority that you can keep yourself active, productive, and efficient despite a lack of supervision.
WHAT TO AVOID: With this question, it will be easy to be overly-optimistic; however, an approach of infinite optimism will not seem genuine or realistic. Be honest, upfront, and practical. Even the most disciplined person is not motivated 100% of the time. What matters the most is that you get yourself back in the saddle after giving yourself a motivational check-in.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "One of my most valuable assets is my ability to self-motivate regardless of the level of supervision present. I stay organized and on task through the use of helpful tech tools that support my productivity. If I am having a tougher day than normal, I will set mini-goals for myself that I can achieve in shorter bursts, which will give me bits of satisfaction throughout the day. If I were struggling with motivation, I would go for a quick walk, reset my mindset, and return to my work with fresh eyes and mind."
THE PURPOSE: The interviewer wants you to reveal any hesitations when it comes to working from home. They want to see preparation for the realities that come with a WFH situation.
HOW TO ANSWER: It's essential to be transparent about any questions you have regarding a work-from-home arrangement. If you are new to a WFH situation, it's completely okay to have reservations about certain aspects of this unique work arrangement. Ask questions if you need to, but be sure also to present solutions. The overall vibe of your response should be positive.
WHAT TO AVOID: An interviewer will not want to hear a laundry list of concerns. Choose one or two burning questions and stick with those. Show that you know your strengths and abilities rather than wait for the interviewer to fill in the blanks.
ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I am very confident in my ability to manage the unique situations that I will face working from home. Although not a significant concern because I know my level of discipline, I would like to know if you have any helpful hacks when it comes to optimizing my workday. I play to wake up early and get ready for work as though I were driving to an office. I am great with time-blocking my day and completing my to-do list before logging out; however, if you have any great suggestions or productivity hacks, I am all ears!"
Whether you have worked remotely in the past, or this is your first work-from-home opportunity, you should enter your interview ready to persuade the hiring manager that you are prepared to face all challenges while welcoming the professional perks of a home office. Showcase the fact that you are a self-driven, clear communicator who can handle the unique challenges of working from home.
Before your interview, be sure to have a full understanding of the job requirements and how you will exceed your prospective employers' expectations remotely. Be ready to discuss your tech situation and the tools you will need to succeed.
If you are interviewing for a work-from-home role, there is a good chance that your interview will be conducted remotely. Visit our guide to preparing for a live video interview.
Do you need more help? Check out this set of 30 common interview questions with over 200 answers. We provide sample responses for common work-from-home roles such as sales, marketing, and administration.