For a manager, hiring remote employees comes with a specific set of challenges. Anyone who has been in a position of responsibility can tell you that managing employees twenty feet away is complex. Keeping atop of someone 1,000 miles away adds another level of stress.
Because different priorities create different concerns for managers of remote employees, there are specific traits hiring managers look for when interviewing remote candidates.
- Autonomy - If you’re not in the office, can the manager be confident that you can and will do the work without them overseeing every detail?
- Experience Working Remotely - A transition from an office environment to a home-based office can be a shock to some employees. If they've never worked from home before, it means there’s a chance they won’t like it and end up leaving the company. While nobody can be sure an employee is going to stay at a firm, the risk of an experienced home office worker leaving the job prematurely is significantly less than someone who is working from home for the first time.
- Reliability and Responsibility - While there are employee work tracking software systems that exist, utilizing them too heavily can indicate to the employee that their manager doesn't trust them, thus souring the relationship. An honor system, in which employees are given goals to achieve by a specific deadline, is often utilized, and the hiring manager needs to trust that the employee will get the job done.
You can tackle these issues by describing yourself as "reliable" and "responsive” during the interview, and highlighting your experience working independently, without supervision.
- Communicative - Managers want employees who will communicate with them on a regular basis rather than chasing employee down every time they need a piece of information.
The most successful at-home employees are the ones who make sure that their manager is kept abreast of their progress and is always available when needed.
The moment effective communication flow stops, a manager begins to question the employee’s reliability and responsibility. If this happens, the relationship can go downhill very quickly.
During the interview process, ask the hiring manager how often they would prefer that you contact and update them. It's a simple question and puts to rest a complex concern on the part of your future boss.
Phone and Skype vs In-Person Interviewing for Home Office Jobs
Phone interviews might be important as in-person interviews, and potentially a final in-person interview could be replaced with a Skype meeting. While most applicants are accustomed to interviewing on the phone, many make a common mistake when interviewing via web cam and look at the computer screen during the conversation rather than at the camera. This makes it appear almost as if they are looking at themselves in a mirror and not engaged with other person or overall conversation. It’s not a deal breaker, but something to watch out for if you’re doing a video interview.
Negotiating Salary and Company Expenses
When you go to negotiate salary, negotiate in the same manner you would if you were an in-office employee. If your job requires travel to client sites, make sure that the employer reimburses for gas mileage. Also, since you will need a basic office setup, determine how the company pays for things like Internet, phone, and office supplies.
If you're given a corporate credit card, use it responsibly. When tax time comes, use an accountant if you plan to write off part of your rent.
When working from home, stay active and make sure you get exercise. It's very easy to gain weight and slack off. Ensure that you have periodic changes in your environment, even if going out and sitting on a park bench. Otherwise, your productivity will decline. Physical and mental health are even more highly correlated when working from a remote position.
Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement Recruiters a sales and marketing executive search firm based out of New York City.