I remember when I was first looking for remote jobs back in 2014 and it was quite tough to get an interview.
Mostly because there was not an abundance of remote positions like today available. And the competition was fierce since there was such a low supply of work from home positions.
Fortunately, every year since that time, remote job offers are more common and more companies have relaxed their work from home policies.
Naturally, remote work was elevated drastically in 2020 when the pandemic hit the world, and many companies now (and into the future) plan on staying remote indefinitely.
So the good news is that if you’ve ever wanted to work remotely, now is the perfect opportunity! However, when you are interviewing for a remote job, it’s important you still pay attention to some signs if this is a company you should work for.
Below are some key questions to ask before you accept that remote job offer.
7 Questions to Ask Before Accepting A Remote Job Offer
When interviewing for any job, you should always have a standard list of questions ready to ask recruiters or any potential managers you’d work with.
Questions around the specific role, areas for your professional growth, team dynamics, salary, benefits, etc.
But when it comes to remote jobs offers, there should be some additional set of questions you’ll want to be sure to ask. And if you forget during the interview process, you can always email your questions over too!
1. How transparent is the company with a remote workforce?
A challenge for many organizations is transparency, which needs to come from the executive leadership down to the intern.
When there is a culture without transparency, it can build distrust and even a toxic work environment. Whether the company you are interviewing with is fully-remote or a hybrid model, you want to gauge how transparent the company and team are with each other.
One social media technology company Buffer set the tone and was what I consider a pioneer in company transparency. It’s why the company is one of our Top 100 Remote Companies! Over the years I’ve seen their leaders of the company share salary data and how they determine pay, business results, remote work culture, and much more.
Seriously, Buffer has a whole blog dedicated to business transparency and how they keep employees in the loop (beyond general audiences who are curious). Not every company needs to have this level of transparency, but you want to find out how open and honest they are with employees before accepting that remote job offer.
2. What are the work hours and is it flexible when I can work?
While the 9-5 working hours might be the standard, many remote work positions can be different hours or offer flexibility. Generally, you should already know from either the job post listing or during your interview process.
But it is good to get some clarity around what your working hours are expected to be or if you can set your hours.
For example, if the majority of remote employees are in the United States and on Pacific Time and you are on the Eastern Time, the company may want to ensure you have some overlap hours with the rest of them.
So in this instance, maybe they’d want your hours to be like 10 AM-6 PM or 11 AM-7 PM.
Also, the company might be okay with flexible hours, which basically means “work when you can work.” Essentially, the company doesn’t care how you get your 40 hours a week, as long as deadlines are met and results are happening, you are good to work as you desire.
3. How is communication handled within the organization for remote employees?
And when you factor in a distributed workforce, that communication breakdown can be even more challenging to solve.
While no company will ever be perfect with communication from leadership to the employee and from employee to employee, you want to gauge how it’s handled at your new potential company.
Start asking about communication, what program or platforms are used, what kind of team check-ins are expected, do I need to be responsive at all times of the day, and what’s expected of employees around communication overall?
If you interview with multiple people, it’s worth asking similar questions to see if you get similar or completely different responses.
4. Is the company fully remote? And how distributed are the teams?
Hopefully, the interviewer has already covered some elements of the company, if it’s fully remote and how distributed the workforce is currently. But if not, this is a simple question you definitely should ask.
This can help you understand how new to remote work the company might be, if the culture is embracing a work from home mindset, or if there are limited remote positions.
By getting an answer to this question, you’ll understand if you can expect plenty of support or if you will have to advocate for yourself to be included in more to stay informed.
There is no right answer here that you should expect because you might be totally okay with being part of a few remote employees or you might prefer that the company has embraced it for years.
5. What are the challenges the company has faced with remote employees?
Remember, even the best remote companies in the world won’t be perfect and will still face some challenges with remote work. And if you ask this question and the response is that everything is great and no issues, I’d press a bit more (respectively, of course).
It’s a red flag if the interviewers can’t be open about any challenges with remote work.
It’s possible they might not exactly know, but it could be a sign that they are either afraid to speak up or are trying to hide something bigger. You don’t want to assume the worst, but you’ll want to dig in some more.
When an interviewer is open about what’s been difficult, provides how they address it/working towards continued improvements, it’s a good sign that the company wants to keep improving and thinking of plans before they become larger problems.
6. How does the company help with team bonding? How often do people get together in person?
Technically this is a two-part question, but they are very relatable and important. When you work remotely and if most (or all) the company does, team bonding and social activities tend to get lost.
After all, you won’t be able to easily meet up with co-workers, have happy hours on Fridays, or do consistently in-person company events. Not every remote company cares too much about that and if you are more introverted, then this might not matter to you and that’s totally cool.
But if you find team camaraderie important, you’ll want to gauge how the company keeps employees feeling connected and like a community.
See what kind of virtual activities they offer and how management does team events. Additionally, how often will you get to meet up in person with everyone? Is it on a team basis or are there company-wide events too?
7. What equipment will the company provide, reimburse, or I need to supply?
Most companies that offer remote work will provide the necessary computer equipment, but do they offer anything else?
You’ll want to find out what is included if they will reimburse you for tools or gear you might buy, or if there are items that you’ll just have to supply yourself.
Again, no right or wrong answer here per se, but you’ll want to lean on companies that offer some budget for your home office needs.
This question helps ensure your future employer is not going to send you a five-year-old laptop that struggles to work and isn’t dropping you from Zoom meetings every 30 seconds.
The company I work for full-time not only covers any equipment I need (computer, keyboard, microphones, etc.), but the first paycheck of each month we get some extra cash that is for our internet bills. I love that!
Not that the extra covers the whole internet bill (everything keeps getting more expensive!) but it’s a nice gesture overall that the company is not required to do.
Some of the questions above you might feel a bit intimidated to ask, but don’t be! Recruiters or hiring managers that are top-notch will welcome your candor and curiosity.
Plus, they should help sell YOU on why you should potentially accept their job offer should one be presented to you.
And if you have additional questions beyond the above examples, don’t be afraid to speak up. This is your potential career path and you should be happy with your choice.
Happy remote working!