In this guide, MockQuestions walks you through everything you need to know about work-from-home job interviews. We review the 4 C’s of successful remote work: Capacity, Communication, Connection, and of course, Computers! We also teach you how to position yourself as a viable candidate for work-from-home opportunities.
THE RISE OF WORK-FROM-HOME OPPORTUNITIES
Work from home opportunities have been on the rise over the last few years; however, the global COVID-19 pandemic has pushed companies and employees into work-from-home situations at the speed of light.
A 25,000 person survey conducted by MIT between April 1-5, 2020, showed that of those employed four weeks earlier, 34.1% switched to working from home. In addition, 14.6% of the respondents reported they were already working from home pre-COVID-19. This data suggests that nearly half of our workforce is now working from home.
The world is seeing a massive increase in work-from-home opportunities, and it’s becoming increasingly important to be prepared for the unique interview questions associated with remote work.
THE 4 C’S:
As many employers shift to hiring and managing remote employees, your work-from-home interview will likely have a heavy focus on these 4 C’s:
CAPACITY: This term refers to your personal and professional ability when it comes to the workload that you can take on and deliver. Not everyone can successfully work from home. If you are not the type to work from home, this isn't anything to be embarrassed about. By nature, we are social beings, and it's normal to have the desire to be around others while leaning on outside motivators and connection. Questions about your capacity will address thoughts such as ‘How much work can you juggle independently?’ and, ‘What does an overflowing workload look like to you?’
COMMUNICATION: This factor includes your approach when it comes to verbal, written, and telecommunication messaging. Your interviewer will be looking for evidence that you can communicate effectively via phone, email, video chat, instant messaging, and more. The way that you frame your email replies and the speed at which you communicate are critical points to nailing a work-from-home job interview.
CONNECTION: This idea of connection encompasses relationship building, teamwork, and community. Without a physical office, it can be challenging to create emotional connections and build trust with your new leaders and team members. Be prepared to discuss the ways that you plan to make these connections with your new work community.
COMPUTERS: This broad term is addressing the technology that you will be utilizing in your work-from-home role. Computers and other forms of tech play a significant part in your remote work success. Attend your interview ready to discuss the ways that you are set up, or plan to be set up, for your digital-based work.
#1: CAPACITY SHOWCASE YOUR ABILITY TO HANDLE YOUR WORKLOAD INDEPENDENTLY.
Some questions that you may encounter when asked about your capacity and workload management include:
How do you handle a larger than average workload?
How many hours per day do you plan to be actively working/online?
How will you deal with distractions when working from a home office?
It's a good idea to tell the interviewer that you can handle the expectations of the role while also providing an example of a time when you did so without requiring outside motivation to reach the finish line.
QUESTION EXAMPLE: How do you determine priorities when you have multiple projects due?
ANSWER EXAMPLE:"I will determine which project requires my immediate attention by the number of hours dedicated to the project, and the overall project size. I am comfortable delegating tasks when needed, but I am also aware that instances where multiple projects are due will require an additional commitment of hours from me. Never have I under-delivered on a deadline because I would much rather work overtime than miss the mark on an expectation or goal."
Your ability to handle a large workload is directly related to your level of diligence in the workplace. For more questions and sample answers on the topic of diligence, click here.
#2: COMMUNICATION HIGHLIGHT YOUR EXCEPTIONAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS.
When discussing your communication skills, try using descriptive language that is unique and not vague or overused.
Examples of vague and overused phrases include:
I am a great listener.
I am a clear communicator.
I communicate in a friendly manner.
I am great at advising others.
I provide helpful feedback that leads to change.
I speak calmly, even during high-stress situations.
The way that you communicate with others in a work-from-home environment is critical. Your non-verbal communication style may not be addressed in your work-from-home interview as much as your verbal and written communication skills. Be prepared to give the interviewer examples of times when you have been a great remote communicator. These examples may include a time when you:
Clearly conveyed a complex message through phone or email.
Encouraged remote team participation.
Recognized that your tone of voice in an email should be altered to avoid miscommunication.
Requested further information, details, or feedback to ensure understanding.
QUESTION EXAMPLE: Tell me about a time when you improved communication between yourself and a coworker or client.
ANSWER EXAMPLE:"In my current position, I have one particular client who was an exceptionally brief communicator. If I asked two questions, he would answer just one. I learned that he would not acknowledge anything for which he did not have an answer. I began to ask him questions in a different way. For example, I would say, 'Do you have an answer for me on question X?' and he would say yes or no. We would then go from there. This method was a highly effective form of communication for that particular client."
The way that you approach communication will be a critical factor in your interview success. To practice more communication-based interview questions, visit the Mock Questions ‘Communication’ interview question and answer set here.
#3: CONNECTION BUILD A CONNECTION WITH YOUR NEW TEAM.
Working from home has many advantages; however, one potential disadvantage is the ability to have daily in-person interactions with your leaders, coworkers, and team members. Many great companies work around this by offering virtual lunches, daily Zoom huddles, or a #virtualhappyhour on Friday afternoons.
In your work-from-home job interview, be prepared to discuss how you plan to connect with your new work community. If you have worked remotely in the past, you can give examples of how you have successfully fostered relationships. If you are new to working from home, here are a few ideas for building virtual connections:
Openly honor the emotions of other people. If a coworker is having a tough day, reach out with a kind note or offer to take a task off of their to-do list.
Randomly check in with various people on your team. Send a quick note of encouragement or a friendly hello.
Deliver your work quickly and with enthusiasm. Delivering on time and with a positive attitude is a great way to build trust and connection.
#4: COMPUTERS UNDERSTAND THESE COMMON TECH SOLUTIONS.
Depending on the job, you will need different tools and tech to get you through your day with optimal productivity.
If you work in a highly technical role where data security and information sensitivity is high, you will have other critical tech solutions to incorporate; however, this list includes the basics.
By learning a bit about these solutions, you will be in-the-know if an interviewer mentions the use of these popular business tools.
REAL-TIME COMMUNICATION TOOLS: Chat applications allow for quick and tracked communication between team members. They can save time from back-and-forth emails and make for smooth check-ins. These widely-used tools have a vast range of options, including Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook Workspace.
VIDEO CHAT OPTIONS: Video chat options are a fantastic substitute for in-person meetings. Just be sure to wear pants, and make sure that your tech is all set! The most widely used video chat options include Zoom Meeting, Skype for Business, and GoToMeeting.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS: Regardless of team size or company budget, most organizations will lean on a project management solution to keep projects on track. Popular PM tools include Monday, Basecamp, Asana, and Trello.
TIME TRACKING & TIME MANAGEMENT APPS: Many corporations use time trackers to ensure productivity and also for gathering crucial project information. If you work in a role where clients are billed by time, tools such as Toggl, Everhour, and Timely are commonly used. Time trackers are also an excellent tool for tracking your daily tasks if you have ever found yourself asking, 'where did the day go?'
PASSWORD MANAGERS: Gone are the days when company employees can get away with work passwords like 'password' or '123456.' You may already have a built-in password manager, but your future employer may prefer paid tools such as 1Password, LastPass, or NordPass.
SECURITY & ENCRYPTION TOOLS: File encryption and other forms of security will likely be of concern for any mindful employer. With risks around every corner, and cybersecurity top of mind for companies, be prepared to discuss options such as NordLocker, FolderLock, or CertainSafe.
If the hiring company mentions the tools they use in the job posting, take the time to research any tools you are not familiar with. Download a free trial, watch YouTube tutorials, and read some basic info provided on the providers’ website.
Doing some leg work will pay off. When the interviewer asks, ‘Have you used Trello?’ you can confidently respond, ‘Trello has not been a job requirement for me in the past; however, I spent an hour exploring the platform before this interview and am confident in my ability to pick it up quickly.”
Be ahead of the game. Even if the hiring company doesn’t offer protocols or tools as mentioned above, you can show that you are ahead of the game by being prepared with impactful tools that will protect you when working from home.
Get a step ahead by:
Ensuring the use of strong passwords
Setting up two-factor authentication when available
Using a VPN, have firewalls set up, or use a robust antivirus software
Having security on your home router
Avoiding phishing emails, scams and unsecured websites
If you are prepared ahead of time and show the interviewer that you’ve put thought into our work-from-home setup, you can easily stand out from other candidates who are waiting to be told what to do.