Finding the Best Virtual Position – Questions for the Interview Process

All professionals have specific needs to succeed in our work environments. Some professionals thrive in fast-paced environments while others find themselves to be more productive working independently by a pool while sipping on a piña  colada. As a military spouse, I quickly realized I needed a fully virtual position to stay at a company long enough to connect with co-workers and progress in my career. I knew there was not going to be a “perfect” virtual position for me, and I was concerned remote working would leave me disconnected from my peers and still have me tied to my desk for long hours.

As more companies adapt flexible remote arrangements, new opportunities are popping up across various industries for employees to design the work environment that best suits their needs. If you’re hoping to be one of those people working poolside (or you just want to avoid commuting a few times a week) here are a few key questions that you can ask during an interview; they will help provide insight on how a company’s culture will influence your daily remote working.

1. Will my coworkers be returning to the office? And if so, what meetings and/or events will be held virtually?

This question addresses whether the company is prioritizing the needs of remote workers and how much thought they’ve put into the specific details to accommodate everyone. The last thing you want is to miss the weekly team call because there wasn’t a conference room available.

2. What are the travel expectations for this position?

It’s important to know up front if you will be expected to come into the office at any point, or if the company is open to you traveling to the office. If the team you are applying for sits in another state or if the headquarters are not in the same state as you it is important to keep travel costs in mind. Will the company reimburse you for expensive flights, trains, lodging, etc.? For me, face to face interactions are important to build relationships with my coworkers and therefore I prioritize traveling to the office. I am also interested in the opportunities to travel for social gatherings to develop a more personal relationship with my coworkers.  Imagine trying to zoom into the company holiday party – I just picture my face awkwardly floating on a screen while 1-2 people try to include me in conversation…

3. How has the company adapted to virtual onboarding?

The transition into a new position can be difficult because you are not in a live orientation with a physical packet of information or can walk over to someone’s desk to ask a question. Some companies have streamlined their onboarding process to include recorded training sessions, which shows that they’re thinking past the current pandemic and giving everyone a similar onboarding experience whether you’re in the office or at home.

4. What do you like and dislike about the changes the company has implemented to facilitate telework?

If everyone at the company loves the office and does not like any of the changes to accommodate remote workers, their company culture is likely not one a remote worker will thrive in.

5. Are the company’s remote work policies flexible to everyday needs, such as running errands or walking the dog? And if so, how do team members notify each other if they’re going to be away from their desk?

Like many people, when I first started remote work I struggled to find the best work-life balance. This question really gets down to the core of a company culture. Of course, vacation policies are standard whether you’re in the office or not, but will you need to notify your supervisor if you’re going to run an errand or walk the dog? This is a good way to ask if you need to be available and at your desk from 9-5 without directly asking it.

Bonus Questions:

6. Are there restrictions on working internationally or in another time zone?

This question is for those of us who are planning on traveling often or moving during your time with the company.

7. Is this a permanent remote position?

An obvious question, but one that needs to be asked sometimes. Especially if the answers to the above include any phrases like, “When you return to the office…” or “After we can all get together again…”

8. Will the company cover the costs of co-working spaces?

If you are drawn to a position outside of your commute, but still want to leave your house – a co-working space would be a great option. Companies have started to embrace the idea and may even cover the cost of one if there are multiple remote workers within a geographical region.

At the end of the day, remote working is an extension of your everyday life at home, and I hope these questions help you find a place where you can further thrive in your careers at your comfort level.

Graphic created by: Autumn Von Plinsky