Tech Job Interviews 101: 15 Remote Job Interview Questions Explained
Learning tech skills is great (and something you should absolutely do right away!)…buuut once you learn them, it’s time to start applying and interviewing for tech jobs. If you’re wondering what to say when you’re sitting across from a real life hiring manager, we’ve got you covered! Tech job interviews are nothing to fear, especially when you’ve already practiced the most likely questions (and some curveballs as well).
Since so many tech jobs are also REMOTE jobs, we scoured the internet to pull together a comprehensive list of remote job interview questions asked during remote job interviews (AND tips on how you should prepare for and answer them). You’ve got this!
Looking for more interview tips? Check out our articles on:
- Web Developer Interview Questions
- Web Designer Interview Questions
- UX Interview Questions
- Digital Marketer Interview Questions
- React JS Interview Questions
And if you need to learn the skills to land your own remote tech job, consider our online Skillcrush Courses. These online classes (designed to be completed in 3-4 months by spending just an hour a day on the materials) cover everything from web development, to web design, to digital marketing, to user experience, and more!
Remote Job Interview Questions
1. Will you be able to stay motivated without an in-person supervisor?
Tip: Remote work means that won’t work in the same physical place as bosses, managers, or supervisors. On the plus side, this means fewer opportunities for unproductive micromanaging. But it also means it’s up to YOU to stay on task, since no one’s going to be popping into your cubicle to check on you.
If you can’t stay productive without a manager following you around, remote work probably isn’t for you. But since you CAN, the trick to this interview question is articulating some ways you plan on self-motivating in a remote setting. Are you a die-hard to-do lister, or do you schedule deep work during certain points of the day? There’s no wrong answer as long as you’re sharing techniques you’ve learned to stay on track.
2. How will you schedule and prioritize your work?
Tip: As a remote worker, you’ll likely face a constant stream of emails, text and Slack messages, video meetings, and collaborative documents and spreadsheets—all vying for your attention. Being able to process this information, prioritize, and address it is a constant part of remote life.
Interviewers will want to know you’re aware of this and that you have a plan for scheduling and prioritization if you land the job. Describe whatever app, calendaring system, or scheduling document works best for you and how you envision using it on the job. You may also want to ask them if the company/team has a system in place that they all use (smart questions are always welcome in job interviews).
3. What will you do if there’s a time-sensitive problem with a project and the rest of your team is offline?
Tip: In a conventional office, most people are working the same shift. If a problem comes up that requires a coworker’s help or expertise, you walk over and ask them. When working remotely, there will likely be times when something happens that you can’t handle alone, but your team won’t be immediately accessible. What do you do? The best way to answer this question is to make it clear that you’re calm and collected when it comes to handling unexpected problems, then describe how you would:
- Do your best to address any aspects of the problem that you can on your own
- Accurately document the problem in order to share information with your team once they are available
- Contact applicable customers/stakeholders, let them know the steps being taken to address the problem so far
- Take necessary steps to contact team members and alert them to the problem ASAP
Each employer will also have their own specific protocols for these situations, but a generally efficient, proactive, and responsive approach is what this question needs.
4. Why do you want to work remotely?
Tip: While it may not seem 100 percent relevant to the job itself, your ability to explain WHY a remote position appeals to you can help employers understand how you might fit on their team. It also shows that you’ve put enough thought into the topic that you’ve probably also thought about how you’ll address remote work’s unique challenges.
Whether remote work appeals to you because you want to work outside of traditional office hours, because you’ll be able to skip the daily commute, because it will make it easier for you to do childcare, or some other reason entirely, don’t be shy to tell your interviewer and describe why you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity.
That said, don’t forget to bring this question around again by explaining why it’s the company and role you’re interviewing for that most appeals to you—not the schedule. No one wants to hear you’re only in it for the flexible hours.
5. Why do you want to work remotely for our company?
Tip: And in case you need help articulating that last bit… Make sure you’ve done your research on the company, so you can explain what about this particular job and employer appeals to you. Typically you can find a lot out about the company’s work philosophy from their career page, so try to see if you can get to the heart of what made them decide on remote work in the first place. And remember, even if you don’t get asked this question explicitly, try to work this answer in at some point during the interview.
6. What kind of previous experience do you have working remotely?
Tip: A proven track record of successful remote work always looks good to employers hiring for a remote position, so if you have previous experience simply describe it.
But if you don’t have explicit remote work experience, don’t panic! There’s always room for spin.
Think of any work experiences you’ve had where you completed projects away from the office, had to develop your own schedule, worked without direct supervision, or any freelance work you’ve done. Whatever your previous work or life situation is, you probably have something you can mine to relate to successful remote work.
7. Can you describe your ideal home office setup?
Tip: This can be a tricky question. On one hand, an employer wants to know if you’ve given thought to setting up a dedicated work area. On the other, remote work isn’t always about working from the same, static place every day. Yes, you need to have reliable equipment and a stable, high speed internet connection, but on any given day “the office” can range from a fully dedicated office at home, to a coworking space, to cafe in another country, anywhere with high speed internet, really.
If you ARE someone who plans to work primarily from home (and there’s nothing wrong with that), describe the setup you have in mind that will make you most productive. But if you plan on being more flexible with your work environment, this is a chance to make sure you and your prospective employer are on the same page. You can describe the different kind of work environments you have in mind, and how you plan on making each of them work for you.
It’s possible the interviewer simply wants to know what work setup you envision (and working away from home is totally fine so long as you’ve considered the logistics). However, if an employer is really hung up on remote work being done from home (and that’s not your own vision of remote work), the job might not be a good fit.
8. What kind of work schedule are you looking for?
Tip: Just like working from home (or not), different people have different expectations when it comes to remote schedules. For some people, a remote job is 8-5, just not in an office. For others, it’s three in the morning, because that’s when they’re most productive. Since these expectations vary, it’s important to be clear about the kind of schedule that works for you (and the kind of schedule an employer is offering) right from the start.
If an interviewer asks you about schedule requirements and preferences, tell them what you’re (ideally) looking for but also show them that you’re flexible and receptive by asking them to clarify what they have in mind/need from employees. If you’re both on the same page, great! And if not, find out if there is room to meet in the middle.
9. How do you picture coordinating and communicating with your team and coworkers if you’re not all in the same office?
Tip: Remote work means you won’t be stuck in a cubicle all day (yay!)…buuuut it also means you won’t always have direct access to coworkers, team members, and other stakeholders. Before you start interviewing for remote jobs, make sure to spend time getting hands on with some of the industry standard tools for remote communication—this includes collaborative tools like G Suite (Google’s office suite that includes programs like Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Calendars), as well as video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts and Zoom, and team chat platforms like Slack. You’re going to be using them, A LOT.
10. Describe your communication style.
Tip: At a remote job having the necessary tools to communicate isn’t enough…you need to bring a communication philosophy that works for your remote team. So what does this look like?
Generally speaking, a proactive communication style works best for remote roles. Because it’s so easy to “go dark” while online and since it’s not possible to stop by someone’s office for a quick chat, it’s crucial to establish structured check ins that allow the rest of your team to know what you’re working on and any needs or blockers you might.
When answering this question, explain how you might create this kind of structure. As a bonus, consider brushing up on the basics of product development strategies like Scrum and Agile. These strategies are commonly used to structure and manage remote work, and your potential employer might even use them (or a version of them) themselves.
11. Describe one of the biggest challenges you picture facing as a remote worker. How do you plan to deal with it?
Tip: There’s no “right” answer to this question, other than being able to identify a significant challenge you think you might encounter as a remote worker and steps you’d take to solve it. Because remote work’s flexibility is the answer to so many problems people encounter at conventional jobs, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing remote work as a workplace panacea with no inherent issues of its own.
Interviewers want to know that you’re being realistic about working remotely, so be honest and open (within reason). Identify the part of working remotely that will be the hardest for you—whether it’s meeting self-directed deadlines, finding a reliable work space, staying in touch with your team, or something else entirely—then give your thoughts on how you’ll tackle it.
12. How do you plan on getting past slumps in productivity?
Tip: Remote or otherwise, there are times at any job when you’ll face a slump in productivity. These slumps can pose particular problems for remote workers, due to how much self-direction and self-management is required when you’re working away from a central office.
The key to this question is to give some thought to the issue before hand and have some ideas on tap if it comes up in an interview. Taking a break for some exercise or a run, walking your dog, taking a late or early lunch, making up some lost hours earlier or later in the day when you’re feeling more on task—whatever your answer is, having a thought out one shows interviewers that you’re ready to navigate the unique pitfalls of remote work.
13. How do you see this job helping you maintain a work-life balance?
Tip: In theory, being able to work a schedule that fits your life means you’ll be able to keep your work life and your personal life…balanced. But this won’t happen automatically.
Without establishing structure and parameters around your remote work, it’s easy to find yourself working all the time. That said, if you give yourself too much flexibility you can let an entire workday go by without getting anything done.
Interviewers are looking for (surprise, surprise) a BALANCED answer to this question. You don’t want to come across like you’ll burn yourself out before your first paycheck, but you also don’t want to list off everything you plan on doing with your time EXCEPT for working.
14. What are some distractions you anticipate in your remote workplace? How will you avoid them?
Tip: Conventional workplaces are full of their own distractions (noisy coworkers, water cooler gossip, excessive meetings, etc.), but it’s not like you won’t be distracted remotely, either. Maybe you have kids at home, a chatty roommate, are prone to Google search rabbit holes, or plan to be working in public places with all of the ambient noise and visuals that go along with it. Whatever it is, you’ll have your own remote distractions to content with.
Make sure you’ve thought about these before heading into an interview. Like all “remote challenge” related questions, honesty, evidence that you’ve proactively thought about the issues, and some earnest solutions will all serve you well.
15. What skills do you think are necessary to be a successful remote worker?
Tip: If you look at all of these sample interview questions, you’ll see some common themes—and those themes speak clearly to the skills you’ll need for a successful remote career. Yes, you’ll need the skills specific to the role you’re applying for, as well as general professional soft skills like written communication, organization, time management, etc., but the key skills that make or break remote success include:
- Proactive communication—never hesitate or be shy about communicating with your team or stakeholders. The more communication the better!
- Online etiquette—most of your workplace communication will happen through text, chat, and video conferencing. Make sure you are comfortable with these platforms.
- Self-direction—it’s up to you to stay motivated and get work done
- Problem solving—figuring things out on the fly and coming up with quick and creative solutions to problems is a key part of remote work.
- Prioritization—remote work is an endless stream of online communication, and it’s up to you to sort it out and prioritize it