How To Prepare For A Work At Home Job Interview
Once you’ve applied for a work at home job, you need to be ready for interviews. You need to prepare yourself for your interview, so you do well. It can be different from what you may be used to from other jobs, as your work at home job interview may be done over the phone or by video. Make sure you’re ready to show your best qualities during your interview.
Make Sure The Interview Looks Legitimate
It’s not unheard of to realize that you’re on the path of a work at home scam when you schedule the interview. Some scams hide pretty well until they give themselves away at this point.
For example, work at home job interviews held over Google Hangouts are almost always scams. If things are looking good but they say the interview is on Google Hangouts, consider this a red flag. It’s possible that a few legitimate employers use this, but it’s far more commonly used by scammers.
Schedule Your Work At Home Job Interview Carefully
You can usually request a particular interview time frame. Make the most of this and choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. Make arrangements for any children to be gone at school or with friends or family if at all possible. The fewer people in the house, the less likely it is that they will interrupt your work at home job interview.
Make sure you know what time zone your interview is scheduled in. A 10 a.m. EST time is very different from a 10 a.m. CST time. Getting the time zone wrong can make your hours early or late for your interview.
You should also find out what kind of interview you will be preparing for. There are several types, and knowing which sort to expect can help you prepare for it.
Research The Company And Position
These days it’s easy to research potential employers online. Most have websites which give at least basic information about the company. Search for news releases about them as well.
You can also learn about them from what they post on social media. Consider the kinds of things and the tone they use. This can give you a feel for how the company wants to be seen.
It’s can also be a good idea to find out what working for a potential employer is really like. Look up potential employers on sites such as Glassdoor to see what others think of them. Glassdoor is a great place to find out what employees really think of the companies they work for.
That said, remember that these reviews can be done anonymously, and may not be completely accurate. A disgruntled employee or customer may post things that aren’t true.
Be Ready For The Usual Questions
There are some questions you will almost always be asked during an interview. You should be ready with clear answers for them. These include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What’s your biggest weakness?
- Questions about your work history and qualifications.
- Why are you interested in the job?
- How will you handle the lack of face to face interaction while working remotely?
- Why do you want to work remotely?
When possible, use solid data in your answers, especially when discussing your accomplishments. If you work in sales or marketing, you may be able to discuss dollar figures or percentage improvements you’ve made. Writers can discuss how many words or articles they can write in a time frame. Managers can include how many people they supervised and the results.
Be sure that your answers are focused more on how you benefited your previous employer, not on yourself. Focusing too much on yourself can make discussing your accomplishments look like bragging.
When it comes to your reasons for working at home, go ahead and mention your personal reasons, but also discuss how working remotely will make you an effective employee.
Whatever you do, don’t create scripted answers for yourself. You can create notes on points you want to cover, but you’ll sound more natural if you don’t force yourself to keep to a script. After all, the things you want to say may change during the interview. If you’re relying on a script, you could end up struggling for words.
Review Your Qualifications
Go over the job listing carefully, paying close attention to the qualifications required. Consider how your skills, training, and experience meet these qualifications.
Think about what you can say about your qualifications during the interview. How did you get these skills? Are they advanced or is this your first job in this area out of school?
The more closely you meet the requested qualifications, the more the company is likely to be interested in you. It’s vital that you be able to talk about them clearly.
Be Ready To Demonstrate Skills
Sometimes interviewers will ask you to demonstrate some of the skills you would use on the job. A customer service interview, for example, may have you pretend to be helping a customer. Software developers may have to demonstrate their coding skills.
It’s also a good idea to develop your skills with common online productivity and communication tools. You may need to be familiar with Skype, Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Docs or other such tools.
Try to find out what the company uses in advance so that you can learn how to use any tools which are unfamiliar. It’s a big advantage if you can say you know how to handle these things. Not many companies do significant team communication over email during the workday.
Employers expect you to have questions during the interview. You want to ask the right ones.
Don’t ask questions that you can readily find the answers to on your own. Some positions, for example, will tell you straight up that there are no fees associated with the work, or that there will be a fee for a background check. If you ask questions on this subject, make sure your question shows that you know the basic information, but simply want more detailed information.
Have a list of questions ready beforehand, but be ready to cross some off if they are answered earlier in the interview. Also be ready to add some new ones if you come up with ideas during the interview.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What is a normal workday like?
- What challenges can I expect
- How will I be trained?
- What opportunities are there for advancement?
- What are your expectations of employees in their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
- Are meetings by phone, on Slack, or otherwise online?
- How frequent are meetings?
- How often do you gather in person?
Ask for more information on the responsibilities of the position, training, scheduling, minimum/maximum hours allowed, and similar subjects. You can also ask about opportunities for advancement. Ask when the job starts and when you might hear back about it. You want to show your interest in the job.
Have Work Samples Ready
Having work samples ready to share at your work at home interview can also be a huge help. There’s only so much you can do for some positions – it’s not likely that you have a sample of a customer service call you’ve taken, for example. But for any position where samples are relevant, have them ready.
Depending on your work, this could be a link to a blog, a GitHub repository, or files saved to your computer and ready to share. Actual samples of your work can show far more of your ability than anything else you do in an interview.
Prepare Your Workspace
Make sure the place you’re going to work in is ready before your interview. This is especially important if you’re doing a video interview or if you need to send pictures of your home office.
This means having a clean desk in an uncluttered area of your home. Be sure that the space you use for your interview would be acceptable to the employer as a workspace should you be hired. If they expect you to be in a room where you can close the door, you need to interview in a room with the door closed.
Test Your Equipment
One of the surest ways to fail a work at home job interview is to have an equipment failure. If it’s beyond your control, you may be able to explain and get a new interview, but if it’s something you should have prepared, that’s a major problem.
An interview over the phone will be pretty easy to handle. A landline may be a safer bet than a cellphone if available, as the connection may be clearer.
If the interview is over Skype or similar services, practice on it with a friend. This is especially important if it’s a video interview – you need to be sure that you know how to make it all work.
You should also turn on your webcam if it’s a video interview to see what your interviewer will see. You may notice some things you hadn’t spotted just looking around the room. Position your webcam right above your monitor so that you appear to be looking at the camera when you look at your screen.
Headphones with a good microphone will be a huge help. This will help keep other noises out and avoid echos.
If at all possible, use a landline telephone or wired internet connection for your interview. The connection will be faster and more reliable. Cell phones, in particular, may have poor connections right when you need them.
No Background Noise
This is utterly vital if you’re trying for a job that requires you have a quiet workspace, and still very important for any other work at home job. This shows potential employers that you won’t be constantly distracted by things around the house as you work.
Talk to your kids, spouse, and anyone else in your home about what you’ll need from them during your interview. If someone can take the kids out of the house during your interview, so much the better. They can’t make background noise if they aren’t home.
Another advantage to getting everyone out of the house is that it keeps them off your internet. You don’t want your connection to lag because someone else is streaming videos or playing online games.
If you have pets, make plans for them as well. The dog may need to be taken for a walk, and the cats closed up in a room well away from your home office or wherever you’re doing your interview.
Contact Your References
If you haven’t already let your references know that you’re job hunting, now is a good time to do so. It’s nice for them to know that they may be called.
Help your references out by letting them know what kind of work you’re interviewing for. This will help the know what to say if they’re called. If there’s a particular skill you want highlighted, don’t be afraid to let your references know.
You can also try to get more recommendations for your skills on LinkedIn. Potential employers are likely to check you out there as well as on other social media.
Whether your interview is over the phone or on video, or even in person for a more local company, take some time and practice for your interview. Read up on job interview skills and have someone help you practice using them. Remember to smile – a smile can help project a positive attitude even if they can’t see your face.
Have a friend or family member help. This will be more effective than practicing on your own.
Plan For Problems
No matter how carefully you prepare for your work at home job interview, sometimes things will go wrong.
Some may be minor. A sick child might stay home, in which case you need to make sure they stay quiet. Your internet connection might lag. A neighbor could start mowing their lawn during your interview.
Others can be disastrous. Know what you’re going to do if your internet connection completely fails or other such problems occur.
These preparations will also be useful if you get the job. The day I was supposed to start my work at home medical transcription job, the phone line I was supposed to use for it was turned off for fraud. It took hours to convince the phone company that their employee had entered some information incorrectly (I used to work for that company and knew exactly how it had happened), and that there was no fraud on my part. My employer, fortunately, was both understanding and amused, as that was the most unique reason they’d ever heard for failing to start work on time.
If your interview is by phone, this is less important, although you may find it helpful to dress nicely for psychological reasons. If it’s a video interview, you definitely want to look appropriate. For home based work, this is probably not a suit, but you should be neatly dressed. A video interview may be your potential employer’s only visual impression of you, and you want it to suit the position you’re after.
Get Some Rest
All this interview prep can be exhausting, but you need to get some rest too. This way you don’t look completely stressed out when it’s time for your work at home job interview. If you’re tired during your interview, you probably won’t perform as well as you would otherwise.
Be Ready Early
Don’t wait until your scheduled interview time to get set up. Have your computer on and log onto anything you’ll need to be logged into for the interview several minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. This will give you time to deal with any minor issues that may come up.
Punctuality is a huge deal for some remote jobs. If you’re taking technical support or customer service calls, for example, you may be expected to adhere to a very strict schedule. If you’re late for your remote interview, that won’t look good to the employer.
For other positions, it still matters. Being punctual shows that you are capable of managing your time well.