For the past few weeks, you’ve been applying to remote work opportunities as if it were your full-time job. You’ve crafted countless cover letters, optimized your portfolio, and scoured countless forums looking for a dream gig.
Today, you finally got a call back—and you have an interview scheduled in one week.
In minutes, your excitement morphs into a full-blown panic. It’s no wonder: Job interviews are daunting. It can feel like your entire career hinges on one or two hour-long conversations with strangers. And interviews come with a certain level of uncertainty and a perceived lack of control that people naturally dread.
But here’s the thing: You have much more control over your interview than you think. And once you know how to prepare for a job interview, you’ll have the tools and confidence you need to show any interviewer that you’re the strongest candidate for your role.
Do Your Research
The right skills and experience may be critical to your success in any given job, but to really nail your interview, you’ll need to prove to your potential employer that you’re invested in their job and their company.
Start by doing a deep dive into the company itself. Review their website and familiarize yourself with their mission, vision, product(s), and any case studies they may have published. Absorb their language: How does the company talk about itself? You’ll want to be able to translate your experience and skills into the language the company speaks to give your interviewer a sense of your fit.
Then take it a step further. What other content can you find that speaks about the company’s successes? Where does it seem like they could improve—and how could you leverage your expertise to help them grow?
Often, you’ll be given the name(s) and title(s) of your interviewers in advance. If so, use your research phase to learn more about them as well. Sometimes something as simple as seeing a headshot on LinkedIn can remove some of the uncertainty and mystery behind who you’ll be meeting. Get a sense of the work they do, and, if possible, what they’re proud of. This will come in handy down the line when you’re preparing questions to ask of them.
As you research, be sure to take clear, detailed notes that you can review in the days leading up to your conversation. The more you can employ your learnings, the better off you’ll be.
Know Your Why
Remote jobs are becoming increasingly popular as technology advances and workplaces seek to expand their talent pools. Many employers will want to know your motivations for opting to work outside of an office environment.
Start this exercise by making a list of every last reason why remote work is appealing to you. Be totally honest with yourself. After all, no one will read it but you.
Step away from your list for half a day or so, then return to it. Sift through your answers and highlight the ones that best speak to your work style, your ethic, your needs, and the keys to your success. Cross off answers like “I want to go for a midday run,” or “I can’t work unless I’m cozy in my bed,” and underscore such reasons as “I thrive in environments when I can work independently with fewer distractions.”
Once you’ve parsed through your list, you’ll have strong, sincere, compelling answers to the question of “why remote work?” when it comes up during your interview.
Draft your questions
Now that you’ve researched the company and honed your understanding of why you want to be their remote employee, it’s time to put yourself in the seat of your interviewer. After all, this is a two-way street, and they have to impress you as much as you need to impress them. And interviewers truly value candidates who show genuine interest in, and curiosity about, their company and work.
The best way to evidence that curiosity and interest is to ask thoughtful questions. By preparing a few in advance, you can ensure you don’t wind up with nothing to say when you’re given the chance to ask.
Consider some of the following:
- What technologies does the company employ?
- How do remote employees stay connected with the rest of the company? (If the organization is a mix of in-house and remote employees)
- Who would I work most closely with? Can you tell me a little about them?
- How does the company measure success?
- How does the position I’m applying for help the company meet its goals?
- What professional development opportunities exist for remote workers? (This will likely be most relevant if you’re seeking part- or full-time remote employment.)
Review Your Résumé
When was the last time you reviewed your résumé and cover letter? Often, a good deal of time has passed since you made your changes and hit “send” on your application email.
But there’s a good chance your interviewers are reading your resume right now in preparation for your interview. And they’ll want to dig in with you to get a good sense of where you’re coming from.
Use your résumé as an outline for the story that brought you to this meeting. And as you review, take a moment to draft out examples of your success. If you have print-outs or physical examples, compile them and bring them with you; if your interview is remote, be prepared to send along a portfolio of your strongest work via email. After all, showing your work is much more powerful than simply telling about it.
Test Your Tech
Will you be interviewing from home? If so, now is the time to ensure you’re comfortable with the communications technology you’ll be using to interview.
For video interviews over Zoom or Skype, ask a remote friend or family member to test out a video call. Make sure audio and video are working effectively, both on your end and on theirs. Few things are more stressful, or more detrimental to your interview, than fiddling with your settings at the outset of your call.
Finally, make sure your phone and/or computer are fully charged and will function well in the space where you plan to interview.
Prepare Your Attire—and Your Space
Even though you might not dress up each day when you’re working remotely, your interviewers will likely expect you to show up in professional attire. And just like preparing your technology, you’ll want to do a dry run with your clothing to ensure everything fits comfortably and demonstrates your professionalism when you meet.
If you’re interviewing over the phone, dressing up can still provide you with an extra boost of confidence. Either way, you’ll want to have your outfit ready to go so you aren’t second-guessing yourself when the interview begins.
One last tip: If you’re interviewing remotely, take a moment to examine your space. Make sure your room is tidy, with no overly busy backdrops or apparent clutter. And pay attention to the sounds surrounding you. If you live close to a busy highway, railroad, or airport, for example, or if you’re positioned in a particularly busy city, you may want to scout out a new, quieter location. Coffee shops might be a great spot to work from, but they aren’t the best place to participate in an interview.
How you handle your interview for a remote job, whether or not you interview in person or digitally, says a lot about how you’ll handle working remotely–so be sure you’re set up to present yourself as capable and prepared. With the right preparation, you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression on your potential employer, and set yourself up for the offer of your dreams.