Before you can land the remote job you’ve always dreamed of, you need to pass the remote job interview.
And yes, there are some differences between remote job interviews and conventional office job interviews.
Knowing what these differences are might be what sets apart a successful interview from a blunder.
In this article, we’ll teach you all you need to know about remote job interviews to successfully land the job you’re applying for! This includes both general tips on how to prepare for the remote interview, as well as the most common remote job interview questions.
So, let’s dive right in!
7 Tips to Ace the Remote Interview
#1. Choose the Interview Spot
Where you’re located during the interview really matters. Specifically, you want to find a place that:
- Is distraction-free. You don’t want your kids or your dog running into the room and interrupting your interview.
- Quiet. While you CAN do an interview at a cafe or a coworking space, you want to make sure there’s no background noise.
- Comfortable. Doing the interview in a setting you’re comfortable with is likely to make you feel more confident.
- Has a neutral background. Most remote interviews take place with the webcam on, so make sure your background isn’t too distracting. If you can’t easily find such a location, then you can use a virtual background.
#2. Make Sure Your Tech Works as Intended
Your tech can make or break your remote job interview.
If your headphones aren’t working, for example, or your microphone is too quiet, you’ll be wasting both your and the interviewer's time.
Here’s a small tech check-up checklist to make sure your remote job interview goes smoothly:
- Make sure that your microphone, webcam, and headphones work as intended.
- Ensure that your computer runs smoothly. If your device is old, make sure that the only app running during the interview is the interview software.
- Test your internet connection and make sure that it works. The last thing you want is to keep disconnecting from your interview call.
- Before the interview, do a test run for all your equipment. Call a friend 30 minutes before the interview and make sure that you can communicate online without any hiccups.
- Close irrelevant tabs or software. Sometimes, you might end up having to share your screen with the interviewer. You don’t want to have anything running in the background that you wouldn’t want the interviewer to see.
#3. Dress to Impress
The fact that the interview is remote does not mean that you shouldn’t dress up for it. Even though your coworkers won’t see you on a day-to-day basis (unless there’s a mandatory web cam policy), you still need to dress up to leave a good impression on the interviewer.
Treat your remote job interview like you would any other job. While you may not need to dress up in a suit and tie, at least wear a formal enough shirt that makes you look presentable.
If anything, dressing up for the interview will also help you feel more confident in yourself.
#4. Be Prepared for Technical Issues
Even if you followed our second tip and made sure all your tech works like a charm, you can never really account for potential technical issues.
For example, your electricity might go out without any advance notice or your internet connection speed might seriously plummet due to network congestion.
Make sure that you have a plan B in case something like this happens.
If your internet connection slows down, for example, you can use your phone’s data plan as a backup.
Or if there’s no electricity, you can go to a quiet cafe nearby.
If you end up in a situation where you simply can’t attend the interview, make sure that you have a way to reach the interviewer, explain the situation, and ask them to postpone the interview.
#5. Show Up on Time
Doing the interview online does not mean that you should hop on your laptop at the very last moment.
Sit down at your desk 30 minutes before the interview and make sure all your tech is running smoothly. Test your webcam, microphone, and so on.
Then, 10 minutes before the interview, hop in the meeting room and wait for the interviewer to join the call.
#6. Pay Attention to Body Language
The fact that the interview takes place online doesn’t mean body language is unimportant.
Pay attention to your body language, just as you would in a physical interview:
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
- Use hand gestures to add emphasis to whatever you’re saying.
- Actively listen to the interviewer and ask questions when something isn’t clear.
- Focus on your posture - don’t slouch on your seat.
- Mind your hands. Don’t play with your pen or fidget around.
#7. Ask the Right Questions
Finally, at the end of the interview, the interviewer is going to ask you if you have any questions about the job you’re applying for.
This is your chance to show the interviewer that you’re passionate about the job and that you’re actually curious about what working at the remote company will entail.
Some good questions to ask here are:
- What’s the work environment like at your company?
- How often do you have sync meetings with the team?
- Who would I be reporting to?
- What would be the KPIs for my role?
- What does the day-to-day work look like for this role?
- Which online communication or project management tools do you use at this company?
- What are your top 3 favorite things about working at this company? What about your 3 least favorite things?
- What would my first week or month at the new job look like?
For a more comprehensive list, check out our article on questions to ask during the interview.
How to Answer the Remote Job Interview Questions
There are some specific interview questions that you’re bound to encounter in almost every remote interview.
Learn what they are and how to answer them below!
Chances are, the interviewer will also ask more conventional job interview questions. To learn what they are and how to answer them, check out our article.
1. Do you have previous experience working remotely?
You’re pretty much guaranteed to get asked this question at just about any remote job interview.
If you haven’t worked from home in the past, you might have a very idealized vision of how working remotely works. You get to work from the comfort of your couch, in your pajamas, taking breaks ever so often, and so on…
Unfortunately, remote work actually comes with a lot of downsides and its own difficulties.
It can get pretty lonely working alone without any coworkers around, for example. Or you might have difficulties motivating yourself to be productive.
Whichever the case might be, as it turns out, remote work just isn’t the right choice for everyone.
This is why the interviewer wants to make sure that you’re the type of person who’d excel in a remote work environment - hence this question.
So, if you have worked remotely in the past, simply say something like:
Yes, actually. My last 2 jobs were remote, which I enjoyed very much. Don’t think I could get back to working in an office.
If you haven’t, however, you can answer:
I haven’t worked remotely in the past, no. However, I’m fully aware that remote work does come with its set of challenges. I’m confident that I’m the type of person who’d strive in a remote work environment. I’m very much a self-starter - I needed minimal supervision to get the work done in my previous roles.
2. How do you manage your tasks and time in order to stay productive?
When working remotely, you might sometimes struggle to stay productive.
In an office, you’re in a productive environment - everyone’s working, which makes it easier to stay focused on your tasks. Working from home, on the other hand, may make it easier to get distracted.
While you occasionally have check-ins with your team, you’re the one who’s primarily in charge of making sure that you’re getting your work done.
And that’s why this remote job interview question is so popular!
The interviewer wants to know if you’ve got any specific tricks for managing your tasks and your time.
A solid answer to this question would be as follows:
First off, every morning, I make a list of all the tasks I need to complete by the end of the day. I make sure that these tasks are on the project management software, so my team can see what I’m working on.
I also make sure to set specific blocks of time in my calendar for each task, ensuring that I can handle all the tasks I set for the day.
3. Which online communication or project management tools are you familiar with?
Every remote company uses several tools to communicate with its team and manage tasks or projects.
When asking this question, the interviewer simply wants to know if you’ve got experience using such tools.
In some cases, they also want to know if you have experience using the tools they’re using, but that’s not usually a big deal. If you’ve used communication tools in the past, chances are, you can use whatever the company you’re applying to uses, too.
So, when asked this question, simply answer:
Yep, I’ve got experience using about a dozen different tools. I’ve used Slack and Discord for instant communication, as well as Basecamp and Asana for project management. I also like to use Notion for personal note-keeping.
4. Why do you want to work remotely?
If you don’t have experience working remotely, you’re very likely to get asked this remote job interview question.
The purpose behind this question is to understand your motivations and to see if the reason why you want to work a remote job is not based on some preconceived notion that remote work is laxer, more fun, and you get to work in bed.
You wouldn’t want to answer like this, for example:
I want to work remotely so I can do whatever I want or work whenever I want. I’ve always wanted to work from my bed!
Rather, you want to give a more mature answer that shows that you’re aware that remote work is work nonetheless.
Well, as a mother of 2, I have a very tight schedule, so working from home would allow me to get more work done while staying closer to my kids’ school.
5. What’s your ideal work environment?
Different remote companies have different types of work environments.
For example, one company might have a very loose organizational structure. You have a stand-up call at the beginning of the week, another at the end, and then it’s all up to you to make sure all your work is done right and on time.
Another company, on the other hand, might be a lot more focused on remote communication among employees. You can have daily sync calls, brainstorming sessions, online co-working sessions, and so on.
If you excel in one type of environment, it doesn't mean that you’ll do fine in the other.
So, when asked this question, just truthfully state the type of work environment you prefer:
I like to work in an environment where there are fewer meetings and more things get done. I’m a self-starter and don’t need a lot of sync calls or catch-ups - once I know what my tasks, KPIs, and goals are, I can work independently and make sure that everything gets done.
6. What kind of practices do you use for communicating with your remote team?
Communication can be extremely tough when you’re working remotely, especially since 90% of the time you’re communicating via chat.
One man’s smiley emoji can be another man’s passive-aggressive emoji.
Even if your communication skills are on-point, you still have to make sure that you overcommunicate with your coworkers.
So, when asked this remote job interview question, answer as follows:
I know that communication in remote teams can be very tough, so I always try to overcommunicate when interacting with my coworkers on Slack.
I make sure to repeat the tasks or prompts 2-3 times and I also make sure that the following points are clear at all times:
- What’s the task?
- Who’s in charge of the task?
- What’s the deadline?
7. How do you keep yourself motivated when working from home?
The first month of working from home can be very dreamy.
You have more free time, a more flexible work schedule, you avoid the stress of commuting, and so on.
Soon enough, though, you’ll realize that working from home also has one big downside: it can be hard to keep yourself motivated.
The line between work and home blurs and you either end up working too much or too little.
So, it’s important to constantly keep yourself motivated in any of the following ways:
- Set up a dedicated workspace, a space that’s used solely for work (and not for gaming or binging shows).
- Make sure to have a work schedule, just like you’d have it at the office. You can, for example, say that 9 AM to 5 PM is your dedicated work time, and stick to it. During those times, don’t do anything but work.
- When your work time ends, make sure to plug out of work and focus on yourself.
- Sometimes, going out to a different location for work can really help. Work from a cafe, a coworking space, a friend’s place, or wherever else.
As for answering the remote job interview question, go for something like this:
Well, I use a couple of tricks that work for me. I have a dedicated workstation and set working hours, which makes it easier to focus on work when I need to.
When working from home gets too boring, I occasionally switch things up and go to a nearby coworking space.
8. How do you switch off from work?
As we already mentioned, the line between work and personal time gets blurry when working remotely.
Some employees end up working 24/7, which eventually leads to burnout.
As such, having a method for disconnecting from work can really help keep you productive in the long term.
So, if an interviewer asks you how you switch off from work, answer something like this:
I like to stick to set working hours and when it’s time to get off work, I simply close my work laptop, put my phone on silent, and focus on other things.
Of course, I always keep notifications on for my email, in case there’s something urgent that I need to look into ASAP.
And that just about covers all you need to know in order to ace your remote job interview!
Before you head off to land your next remote role, let’s do a small recap of all the important things we’ve covered in this article:
- Before the remote job interview even starts, choose the right spot to hold the interview and make sure your tech works.
- Dress to impress - your appearance still matters during a remote interview.
- At the end of the interview, ask the interviewer questions about the employer to show them that you’re passionate about the job.
- Learn how to answer the remote job interview questions we outlined in this article to ensure that you ace the coming interview.