What to consider before answering this question in an interview.
One thing the pandemic has taught the corporate world is that you don’t have to step foot into an office for the work to get done. Many companies with zero “work from home” capabilities pre-COVID are now fully settled into their remote environments.
It is important to note the exceptions – the essential workers who did not have the option or flexibility to work remotely. We thank you!
Things are changing fast. Nearly 50% of Californians are fully vaccinated. The mask mandate has been lifted. Businesses are opening their doors. And many employers are beginning to develop a return-to-work plan for their staff. Although some companies have permanently closed their doors to their physical office space and made teleworking their norm, this is not the reality for most businesses. Some companies need face-to-face time to operate at their highest capacity. Many thrive on in-person team meetings and direct interactions. As you gear up for your interviews, be mindful you’re entering a transitional phase for some employers. Whether you want to work remotely or in person is not only at the forefront of your mind, but also the mind of your interviewer.
Do Your Research
Before your interview, take some time to do additional research around the company’s remote work policies. Is their office fully remote, in-person, or offering a flexible hybrid option? Try talking to people who work there, or doing some online sleuthing to understand their current workplace conditions. It’s likely the employer hasn’t yet established their return-to-work policy, but you should have a response prepared no matter what direction the conversation goes.
Know What You Want
As you learn the preferences and culture of the organization as it relates to how (and where) they do their work, determine how it aligns with your vision. Have you embraced the additional hours at home over the last year and a half? Do you feel your work-life balance has reached a healthy new level? Or are you craving the energy of an office, work relationships, and connections you simply can’t make over Zoom? Either way, when preparing for your interview, it’s important to know what you want and how to express it. This awareness will better equip you to address your interviewer with more honesty, clarity, and confidence.
Position Your Preference
If working from home is something you desire, be ready to show your interviewer how you’ve been successfully doing it. Talk about your increased productivity and specific goals you’ve met. Maybe you have fewer distractions at home, which has increased your job performance. You can even discuss how eliminating your morning commute has given you the opportunity to drive your kids to school. Perhaps this has created a greater connection to your family, resulting in more focused and efficient work. If you prefer being in the office, express your enthusiasm to be part of the team and engaged in the everyday culture of the organization. It’s possible you have more interruptions at home, and going into the office is critical to doing your best work. Either way, it’s important to have strong evidence to support your choice.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
With all that said, remember not to lose sight of the job itself. Your main purpose for the interview is not to convince the employer that you’re a high-functioning remote worker, it is that you are passionate about the job and the perfect candidate for the position. Your interviewer is taking notes on whether you’re flexible and adaptable. So unless you HAVE to work remotely (which you should be honest about from the beginning), try to stay open-minded to the possibilities.
In the end, an employer isn’t as concerned about what you want in your work life. They are more interested in how you will fit into the culture, your quality of work, and ways you will benefit the company. So when it comes to the question of “remote versus in-person,” consider how you can convince the employer your preferred method will provide the most value. You’d be surprised there just might be a solution that can fit everyone’s needs.
Do you want more tips on how to answer tough questions in an interview? Check out this article!