Editor’s note: This is the first installment of our new work-advice column, “Don’t Ask Me How I Know,” featuring Katy Shaddock, a human-resources and recruiting expert with more than 20 years of experience at every rung of the hiring process.
Hey, Katy –
My dream is within grasp: I’m interviewing for a job that isn’t just perfect for my next career move but is also 100 percent remote. My current employer offers a benefit of working remotely up to 15 days per month, but my manager isn’t a fan, so I’ve only taken advantage of the option one to two days per week. I’ve found that I’m more productive when I’m working from home, and I love the freedom from the distractions in the office. I’m not worried about the skills aspect of the interview at all, but I’m afraid the recruiter will ask how I manage working remotely and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. What should I say when asked how I perform in a remote environment?
– It’s Not About the Dress Code
Hey, Dress Code –
First, congratulations on the interview! You’re right to expect the question — recruiters must be sure candidates have realistic expectations of what it’s really like to work from home. Clearly this isn’t the case in your situation, but you might be surprised how many recruiter face-palms begin with hearing, “I’m so excited to save money on child care!” and “I love being able to run out whenever I need to go up to the store or meet a friend for coffee.” The three things to focus on are productivity, environment and relationships.
You’re currently working remotely about 25 percent of the time, so the interviewer knows you have proven success, a work environment free from interruptions and noise, and the acumen to build and sustain relationships. Assuming that your team probably rotates virtual days, how have you overcome the boundary to in-person updates and work sessions? Use those examples in your answer. Something along the lines of, “My current role is about 25 percent remote. Because our team alternates days onsite and remote, I set up web meetings and FaceTime chats to keep us connected on our projects, maintain momentum, keep up our relationships even when we’re not seeing each other in person.”
Think about the physical boundaries that get erased when you’re not in the office – who have you connected with that you wouldn’t ordinarily talk to? Use those examples, e.g.: “It’s easy to stay focused on deliverables when it’s quiet and nobody is walking by my desk, but I wanted to stay connected so I reached out to people in other departments for feedback and questions. It helped grow relationships from saying hello at the elevator to being part of a larger team.”
You’re right on target with your approach of showing the recruiter that you’re the best candidate for the job because you have the skills and experience to execute the responsibilities of the role in the remote environment.
Good luck — you’re going to do great!