How To Prepare for a Remote Job Interview

Today I want to talk about remote job interviews. So, I’ve been getting a lot questions about how do you prep for a remote job interview? And one of the first questions that they ask is if a remote job, how do you negotiate salary or what number should you put out there?

My advice for salary is, you know, the value is all about perception. It depends on the company. If they’re a US based company hiring remote workers, it should always go for the standard US salary. If they’re a European company, let’s say their business in Barcelona, you go on the standard rates of any European employee.

Even though the job is remote, always go for the standard office-based salary. The common misconception about the remote work industry is that you know, remote workers get paid less, which is not really true. Like I said before, it depends on the company. Hiring remote does not excuse the company for paying less. Instead, you know, hiring remote is a privilege and it gives the company access to a global pool of talent no matter where they are.

Hiring remote does not excuse the company for paying less.

And with that, I think that the companies that hire remote should actually pay remote employees more because if it’s a US-based company, and you’re not a US citizen and not based in the US, you still have to pay taxes in your home country. And they’re not gonna cover your insurance. They’re not gonna cover your pension plan. So, you have to take into account of that.

So, even though you’re not a US citizen but you’re being hired by a US company remotely, you should ask at least for the minimum. Yes, it may sound like a lot to you, especially coming, especially if you are from an Asian country. But, you know, for them it’s not only about the money. It’s about the talent, right? If you can actually do the job, why not get paid like anyone else?

A good site to do some research on, you know, what’s the standard salary is, you know, go to sites like Glassdoor or Indeed or Monster and see what the local companies are paying. And, you know, start from there.

So, you’ve got salary down. When you have the interview, be prepared to answer the following questions. Obviously, they will ask you all the standard questions like, you know, why do you want to work for the company? But for companies that hire remotely, they may ask specific questions about why do you want to work remotely? And they will also probably ask you about what your day to day life would be in you started working there remotely.

The important thing about when they ask you something and you don’t know the answer, don’t try to bluff your way. Just tell them you don’t know. But there’s a very good line from a movie called, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” starring Will Smith.

And I’ll link that specific phrase in the description down below. And yeah, basically saying that you know, you don’t know the answer now, but you know how to find the answer. And then make sure you follow up on it after the interview.

Also, a lot of candidates fail at this, remember to also prepare your own questions for them and not just at the end of the interview, don’t just suddenly go blank when they ask you if you have any questions. Some of the questions that you can ask are the tool of communications.

I think a lot of remote companies nowadays, they use Slack, but some may use other tools. Knowing what the tech, Slack, will enable you to prepare yourself and familiarize yourself with the communication tool or stack that they are using.

Also, ask about how if remote work, how do they keep accountability? For me, while I was working at Zapier previously, we had something called Friday updates, where every Friday we would write a report on an internal blog, where everyone can read. So, in the update we will include tasks that we’ve done during the past week and also plan out what do we, what do we intend to work on next week.

Also, ask about diversity stats. Asking this question is not, we’re not trying to like poke at them, you know, asking about diversity. We are just simply asking because, you know, we want to know whether that company has the right culture mindset for you.

And, of course, with a remote and global workforce, ask they how do they deal with meetings with people from different time zones? And also ask them about the frequency of meetings. I personally do not like a lot of meetings. I think a lot of, especially you know with a remote work environment, time is very sensitive, and distractions will really really slow you down in terms of context switching.

So, if they have like a weekly, once or twice meeting, it’s fine. But if they have like a daily meeting, you know, ask them you know how long is the meeting? If it’s a standard 10–15 minuted stand up meeting, that’s totally fine. But if you’re doing an hourly meeting every day, that’s not that productive and, honestly, a waste of time. Just ask them and see what are the steps that they are taking to keep everyone productive and not be distracted by unnecessary meetings?

Ask about the financial state of the company and ask them if they are financially transparent to existing employees. For example, when I was working at Zapier, we have an internal dashboard to see what our monthly recurring revenue is, and every month our Chief Financial Officer, she will post the monthly report detailing what our revenue was, what our profit was, what’s the free cash flow and what was the operating expenses of the company. This way, when you’re working at a startup, you’ll feel more confident that the company will not just like die and you’ll get laid off without any notice. If the company is not transparent their financials, be very very careful.

And if they are not transparent, you can also ask if they have any investments from any venture capitalist firm, any VC firms that have invested in them. And also, research on the VC firm and see what kind of startups with which the VCs invest. And figure out what their success rate is.

During the interview always remember to be confident. Don’t look desperate. I know, I know getting a remote job is like a dream come true for a lot of people. But they need you as much as you need them. So, be confident cause they’ve already agreed to have an interview with you. So, you must have something that they need. So, yeah, be confident, be ready, and be prepared for any specific questions about the company, about your role, and about your skills.

But they need you as much as you need them.

Right, so now you’re done with the interview. What do you do next? After the interview, definitely, remember to send them a thank you email, and in that email also follow-up with any of the questions that you couldn’t answer during the interview.

Write an email that’s concise but also to perfection. Definitely double, triple check your grammar, spellings, and all the other stuff.

Also, before you go into the final interview, make sure you have a list of references ready. The standard is about 3–6 references. Also, include past managers and not only your colleagues. Include one or two past managers and then probably another like maybe 2 or 3 colleagues.

And include colleagues that not only as in the same department, you know, try to include colleagues that are from a different department that you have worked with. Even if it’s just for a while. This shows that you work well with other people from other departments. And again, it just highlights your communication skills talking with different people on different levels within the company.

And that’s it. To recap everything, number one, make sure you research the local salary rates. Be prepared for any kind of remote specific questions that they may ask you. And also, the standard questions regarding the specific job roles or, and the skills that you have. And also, be prepared with your own questions to ask them. And make sure to follow-up every step of the way.

Don’t be afraid to send follow-up emails every week if need be. And in general, just be persistent and if you didn’t get the job. It’s fine. Think of it as a training round, and you know, make sure if you see any future opportunities to apply for a remote job, definitely just do it and be prepared.

Originally published at Asad Zulfahri.

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Asad Zulfahri

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.