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COVID-19 introduced the workforce to a new form of the office, the home office, and as we continue to move toward returning to normalcy, many new applicants wonder if the remote workplace will still be an option, more importantly, how to bring it up during a job interview.
Narrowing your search and doing your research
If working from home (WFH) is the priority, begin by narrowing your online search to remote or hybrid positions only. Many sites, including LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, etc., have created options to filter your search by location, including remote positions.
Prepare for your interview like you would for any position starting with doing your research on the company, write down a list of questions you want to ask, and make sure you find out as much information about their COVID-19/WFH protocol as you can.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t walk into an interview assuming that the company will support remote options. When you reach the point of the interview where you can ask questions, try to be direct when asking.Cali Williams, CEO and founder of Flex Strategy Group suggests phrasing the question: “do you support remote work?” If they give a direct answer of yes or no and can give you some more information about what options are available, then the choice is clear.
Suppose during the interview you are uncomfortable asking directly about WFH options. In that case, Williams suggests asking a question like this, “In your culture, will most of the people I work with be onsite every day or will some be working remotely?” Phrasing the question this way makes it about the employer’s expectations of how you will collaborate with your potential colleagues and in the workplace rather than making it about personal preference. Williams also said if the employer says something along the lines of: “We really don’t care where people work as long as they get the job done,” then you can follow up with a more direct question about remote work.
What employers should do
As important as it is for applicants to be clear about their work preferences ahead of time, it is just as imperative for the employer to be transparent about their expectations for the role, including what options are available. The remote workplace should be treated the same as any role that would require relocation.
Employers should start with their job listings and make WFH options clear at the start. This helps to make sure candidates are on the same page and know the expectations before submitting the application and walking into an interview.
At the interview stage, employers should prepare to answer questions. According to Alexandra Carter, director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School, whoThe Wall Street Journal,recently interviewed, “Employers know this is on people’s minds.” Hence, it is most likely going to be a question the applicant will have.
Approaching the WFH question during an interview should not be an awkward conversation. Of course, applicants and employers will have their expectations before the meeting. Still, the applicant needs to know each employer’s expectations before getting to the interview stage.
If there is one takeaway for applicants in properly approaching the WFH topic, it is to do as much research as possible before speaking with the employer. Of course, still don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview. Applicants asking questions is just as important as the employer asking questions.
It is just as important for employers to make sure you make as much information as possible available for applicants to view ahead of time. For example, suppose access to COVID-19 and WFH policies are readily available on the company website, social media, and job postings. In that case, it will make the rest of the application, screening, and interview process a breeze.
July 20, 2021