Applying for a remote job? Prepare to answer these interview questions

Monique RiversNot long ago we published a post on Hunting for Remote Working Jobs. In a very useful follow up Monique Rivers takes a look at the kind of questions a company might ask you in your interview for a remote position.

Monique is an Australian tech blogger who also loves good food and fashion. She works at ninefold.com. Ninefold is a company providing efficient and powerful virtual servers for all those occasions when a business needs to move their ideas into the cloud.

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Together with the rapid growth of communication technologies, we have witnessed remote work explode in popularity. If you still think working from home is a rare solution, just have a look at these statistics. Every field offers remote jobs that might fit your current preferences and lifestyle. How to make a good impression during an interview of a remote job? Here are top 5 questions you should prepare for when applying for this kind of professional opportunity.

What is your daily schedule?

Recruiters will want to see how well you know yourself: when you’re focused and what your top hours for productivity are. They’ll be interested whether you’re a morning bird or a night owl.

Remote jobs are often flexible and almost never tied town to the classic nine-to-five schedule – workers all over the world can work in shifts for one company. Recruiters will be interested in your strategies for organizing your work. You need to know your natural rhythm and analyse your daily schedule before you answer this question.

Which communication tools would you use in this situation?

Working in remote teams, you won’t have the chance of catching someone in between meetings for a quick chat. In order to be a productive member of the team, you’ll need solid knowledge on virtual communication and which methods are most efficient for your purposes.

Recruiters will be interested to see whether you’re well-versed in modern communication technologies like email, video hangouts, online chats or project management software. Moreover, they might give you a specific example and ask you to suggest which communication tool is the best one to use. It’s your turn to show that you know how to make remote projects proceed smoothly.

What are your requirements for a productive workspace?

Asking this question, recruiters are making sure that you’re aware of all the physical aspects of working remotely. They’ll also need this knowledge to see whether the company should provide you with specific equipment.

By Ali Edwards, Flickr, CC-BY

By Ali Edwards, Flickr, CC-BY

Whether you work from your kitchen counter or the couch, you’ll always need a few basics – a standing desk, high-quality scanner or even coworking office. Define your preferences and requirements – always mention them during the interview.

What tools do you use for managing your calendar/schedule?

Recruiters are really interested in this aspect – they might ask you questions about details, such as whether your calendar is open for everyone to see or what kind of events you post there. Organization is key in remote work, so recruiters will want to know what your tools for time management are and whether you’re familiar with crucial apps and platforms.

This also shows how much thought you put to organizing your work. It’s possible that joining the company, you’ll need to make a few changes, but the basic idea of organization needs to be there in the first place.

What is the organization system on your computer?

Recruiters will also want to know how you keep track of important files, notes and links on your computer. You’ll be sharing files with your coworkers and if they’re not properly named, you risk cluttering their workspace with things they cannot categorize at a glance.

Before you apply for a remote job, make sure to have an organization system in place: for storing files, managing issues like multiple tabs open in your browsers or keeping track of important links.

Working in remote has many perks, but it surely isn’t for everyone. When applying for a remote job, make sure that you have the required skills and actually like to work on your own. Remember that your professional history will be scrutinized as well – if your past positions involved a degree of autonomy, your chances at landing a remote job are much higher.

Remote working from an organisational perspective

BenIn the past numerous articles on the blog have touched on the benefits of remote working and how employees can prosper from carrying out work related activities from the comfort of their own home. However we haven’t had many articles that focus on what remote working means from an organisational perspective. This article by CEO Benjamin Fountain does just that.

Benjamin is CEO at London’s exciting new web development company Zed Zed. Their new ground breaking concept is based entirely on people working from home. Zed Zed has recruited a specialist workforce who are looking for a fresh approach to working life and those who are tired of the typical 9-5 office based roles. Zed Zed believes that this is the future of recruitment and by embracing what people want the company aims to produce a highly effective team.

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I’m passionate about Startups. I have been managing a web development company for over 10 years and our work is centred around the start up field making innovative and exciting online applications.

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During the past year we have been working as a team to develop the new age of web development and online application deployment. At the start of this year we launched ZZ.co.uk and the response has been incredible.

ZZ.co.uk is a new startup which will bring remote working contractors together under one brand to offer companies around the world, international deployment, 24/7 development and the ultimate in tech team customisation.’

So.. Why does Zed Zed recruit in this way?

Having worked in an office throughout almost all of my professional life I found it extremely tiring and demanding having to repeat the same routine on a daily basis. Although working in an office has many positive aspects including the chance to interact with colleagues there are also negative effects which include the following…

  • A recent study outlined how the average person in Britain spends 54 minutes a day commuting and ‘feelings of happiness, life satisfaction and the sense that one’s activities are worthwhile all decrease with every successive minute of travel to work’. In addition, commuting can lead to high levels of stress as a result of delays, unpredictable weather and of course a lack of control. This is clearly a cause for concern as stress within the workplace can lead to a lack of productivity but more worryingly it could potentially result in both mental and physical issues for employees.
  • Carrying out mundane, routinized activities on a frequent basis coupled with the highly stressful nature of the role can be tough. For example, sitting at your office table for 8 hours a day could be highly frustrating and potentially demotivating because as people we are keen to experience new things on a regular basis.

At Zed Zed we strongly believe that our team should be treated as people rather than entities which is why we encourage them to choose their own hours and days of work. We believe that remote employment can help increase productivity amongst team members as well as help stimulate their minds. In addition we understand that commuting to work can be difficult for many people and remote employment sidesteps this issue completely which enables ZZ Team Members to spend more time with their families. We feel that this flexibility helps the team to remain stress free whilst effectively carrying out their responsibilities.

We appreciate the fact that our team have lives beyond that of the workplace and we look to accommodate this at all times by giving them freedom and encouraging them to enjoy their work rather than have the feeling that work is almost like a ‘chore’ that they have to do. Our business model enables them to work for the company part-time so that they can also work with us even with their full-time job. This can have a significant impact on their earnings whilst at the same time giving them a chance to try a new career.

Ultimately, Zed Zed believes in the responsibility of adults and of the incredible talent available who can’t necessarily commute to a job. We believe people should not live to work but that work should be an enjoyable part of their life which they can’t live without. We recruit team members who have a passion for life and their work which gives us a strong and dedicated team.

Hunting for Remote Working Jobs

When I was made redundant from my previous job I discovered that finding a new remote working job wasn’t going to be an easy task. Back in 2012 I did a scout of remote Working policies at universities – most had little to offer. The future looked bleak! Luckily I started work for Open Knowledge!

Since then finding a remote working job has become a little easier. There is now quite a few websites dedicated to employing people

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  • Remotive – apparently “remote + productive = remotive”. This search site contains mainly developer type stuff (with partners from InVision, Zapier, iDoneThis, Sqwiggle, HelpScout, Ghost, Formstack, Blossom, Customer.io & CloudPeeps) but there are some other jobs on there.
  • We Work Remotely is a site 37Signals on the back of their excellent ‘Remote’ book. You can also follow them on Twitter.
  • Working Nomads – “A curated list of remote jobs, for the modern working nomad.” Mainly tech jobs.
  • Remote Employment – Flexible home based jobs working from home. This used to be pretty good for more general types of job but seems to be suffering from a tumbleweed moment 😦 These were the guys I won my award off back in 2009!
  • Skip the drive – US focused but has a cute Telecommuting Savings Calculator on the site
  • The Guardian Jobs – They aren’t that clear on whether remote means from home or the middle of the outback but there are some interesting jobs here!
  • Remote Jobs – Lots of jobs listed besides tech!

Other ideas

Most of these are shamelessly stolen from colleagues (thanks to people who will remain unnamed):

  • Check out this Skillcrush post on the 25 best sites for finding remote work.
  • Look for tech startups and non-profit-sector / open source tech organisations – they are leading the way in remote working
  • Some general careers sites will let you do searches (and setup saved searches and notifications) and will have an “allows remote working” filter (or if not you can just put keyword “remote” in your query).
  • Good sites to look at include Hypothesis, MySociety, Mozilla, Ushahidi, Akvo, Automattic, Canonical (although check out Glassdoor.com, lots of dodgy reviews). Wikimedia. Not edX itself but some third-party consultancies based around edX. RedHat claim that 25% of their employees are remote if you feel like going corporate.
  • If you’re happy to work for a commercial company then Flexjobs have recently released their “Top 100 Companies Offering Telecommuting Jobs In 2015

So happy hunting!