A job interview is a pretty challenging experience. You have to impress. You have to display a personality that will bring untold value to your potential employer. You have to stand out from an ocean of candidates who want the job as badly as you do.
Now imagine having to overcome those hurdles on a Skype call or Google Hangout in an entirely different timezone, and possibly hundreds (if not thousands) of kilometers away. Interviewing for a remote work opportunity presents a whole new layer of challenges that are centered around visibility and autonomy. These are traits that you have to exhibit in an office environment, but they’re much more heightened when management can’t tangibly see you at your desk every single day.
If you’re hoping to secure a remote work position and really want to stand out, consider these tips for giving a killer interview. Here’s what the hiring manager is going to want to see and hear during your interview process:
Before the interview
It’s important to assume that your interview starts the moment you submit a resume, portfolio, or body of work. Granted your work may look good and perfectly fit the organization’s functional need for your skills, but does the submitted content answer questions about your viability as a remote work candidate?
If you have previous freelance or full-time remote work experience, then it’ll be obvious to point that out. If you don’t have that experience but feel you’re a fit for the role, then make sure there’s ample language in your cover letter, resume or portfolio that really drives home your ability to work independently and across a virtual team. You don’t have to go into detail (the next point will explain why), but you will want to show on a high-level that:
- You will be present despite multiple timezones.
- You will bring in processes (personal and collaborative) that will be positive to a distributed workforce.
- You are incredibly organized and accountable for your tasks.
- You conduct your own quality assurance on deliverables before soliciting feedback from others on your team.
- You are a clear communicator and fantastic listener.
- You make use of technology to minimize the feeling of distance.
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During the interview
Your hiring documents will give a taste of what you bring to the team, but storytelling will be crucial throughout the verbal interview process to reassure the hiring manager that you can work remotely.
This is your opportunity to discuss concrete examples of how autonomous and organized you can be. Don’t just talk about your ability to produce great work, be explicit about the production process you encountered or were responsible for designing. When you talk about achievements in projects or initiatives be sure to point out the following:
- Were multiple people involved in the project? Where they all located in one building?
- How do you personally organize yourself around new projects? What are your usual run of events to kick-off a new effort?
- What did you work on individually, and what did you work on in collaboration?
- What existing processes were used to move the project forward, and what new ones were created as the team progressed through tasks? Be sure to point out team check-ins, status updates, and other communication processes.
- What tools did you or your team use to capture feedback and track progress?
- What mistakes were made? No project is perfect, so how did you right the ship?
After the interview
As is customary, make sure you send a note at least 24-hours after the session to thank the interviewer for their time. This is also a chance to attach any new or additional information that display your ability to work well remotely; and in turn, convince the hiring manager to make a much more confident decision on your candidacy.
So what can you send over? Consider the following (and double check you aren’t sharing sensitive information):
- A quick process map or sketch to outline how a particular project unfolded. This can help to elaborate on how your efforts helped to produce great work, and it’s a tangible way to point out team check-ins and organizational skills.
- Examples of tools you use individually or in a team to communicate and capture progress. If your employer is considering tools that you have used before, then share your perspective on what makes that particular tool great or difficult to use especially in a virtual work context.
Always prepare to be a step ahead
A killer candidate will always be one step ahead of the interviewer. The real skill is to take the time to prepare for conversations that will allow you to address the points above as you detail your work experience. Employers who hire remotely will be impressed by candidates who bring peace of mind to the organization even if they are physically removed from the rest of the team. Your ultimate goal is to remove any doubt from your candidacy as a distributed team member and show them that you are on top of your stuff.
I regularly write about the Future Of Work. Get in touch with me here: @kaviguppta.
Forbes.com | May 30, 2016 | Kavi Guppta