Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
It might feel awkward to ask about remote work options during an interview, but if you’re one of the 8 in 10 job seekers prioritizing flexibility, it might be an essential, make-or-break consideration in your job search.
Ideally, you’ll get all the information you need to make an informed decision without hindering your prospects along the way.
So, what do you do if you’re invited to interview for a role you’re really excited about, but the job posting doesn’t explicitly state whether or not it’s remote-friendly?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Each interview process is unique, but some best practices exist.
Approaching the subject with thorough research and well-timed questions generally offers the best results.
Start by Assessing the Company Culture
Understanding a company’s stance on remote work begins with a thorough analysis.
Before the interview, you can learn whether the company holistically supports work-life balance and employee wellness.
Review the Company Website
Start with the company’s website. Look for values, employee benefits, or sections that point toward support for interests and needs beyond productivity. Any or all of these might mention the company’s support — or lack of it — for remote and flexible work.
Dig through careers and current job postings. If the company is advertising remote work, that’s a good sign. However, that does not guarantee that every role has the same options.
Research Social Media
Next, head over to the company’s social media profiles. You’re seeking posts, articles, and updates about the work environment and employee experiences.
Keep an eye out for mentions of remote work, flexible hours, or hybrid work.
Also, take note of any employee spotlights or stories that showcase remote employees. Those can be excellent indicators of the company’s approach to blending work and life.
Leverage Current Employee Insights
Current employees are an untapped gold mine when looking for insights into a company’s culture.
Try to connect with current employees on LinkedIn to get their perspectives on the company’s remote work options and their experiences working remotely. You might ask them about their daily routines, communication technology, and any challenges they face.
You’ll better understand the company’s work culture and whether it aligns with your preferences.
Armed with all that research, you have a solid foundation to ask insightful questions and negotiate remote work options during the later stages of the interview process.
When and How To Ask Questions About Remote Work
You might get the answers you need simply by exploring the company’s culture. But at the very least, you can format your questions better.
Understanding when to ask about remote work can be crucial in how your inquiry is received.
Table the Discussion During Initial Interviews
Even though you’re creating a list of pros and cons behind the scenes, your initial interview isn’t the time to ask the hiring manager about perks or benefits. This stage is more of a get-to-know-you conversation.
Instead, focus your questions on understanding the company culture and the expectations for the role.
Asking about remote work too early can signal that you’re interested in any job that offers a remote option, rather than being excited about this specific opportunity.
Try to take a big-picture approach. Ask your interviewer about the organization’s culture during the initial interview. Frame your questions around how the company supports work-life balance for employees.
Ask Questions To Learn About the Work Environment
Try asking these questions to learn more about a company’s work environment:
- “How does the company support employee wellness and work-life balance?”
- “Can you describe the company’s communication and collaboration practices?”
- “What opportunities does the company offer for professional development and growth?”
- “How does the company foster a positive and inclusive work environment?”
- “Can you tell me about a time when the company went above and beyond to support its employees?”
With those answers, you can better understand how intentional the company is in creating a healthy workplace. Often, they’ll move organically into information about flexibility and remote work options.
If not, you’ll at least be able to take a step back and analyze how much the role fits your career goals and other aspects of the job and organization.
Inquire and Negotiate During the Final Interview Stage
Questions about specific work arrangements are more appropriate in the final interview stage, as the conversation shifts toward negotiating salary, benefits, and work environment.
Once you’ve made it past the initial interview phase, you’re seriously being considered for the role.
Of course, you want to be tactful and express your interest in remote work in a way that highlights the benefit to the employer.
Rather than focus solely on how it will allow you to juggle your other commitments, point out your increased productivity and comfort with a remote environment.
Highlight Your Productivity and Background Working Remotely
Now’s a good time to reference any prior remote work experience, showcasing your ability to thrive outside a traditional office.
Begin the conversation by emphasizing your productivity and ability to work independently. You can share specific examples of your remote work experience and the accomplishments you’ve achieved in that context.
For example, you could highlight:
- Projects you’ve successfully managed while working remotely
- Quantifiable achievements, such as consistently exceeding targets
- Strategies for organizing your work, such as using tools like Trello or Asana
Showcase Your Communication and Collaboration Skills
Successfully working remotely requires solid communication and collaboration skills. Highlight your experience with common remote work tools, like Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams.
Detail how you’ve effectively used these platforms to virtually connect with colleagues, collaborate on projects, and solve problems.
Describe Your Ideal Work-Life Balance
Finally, mention the positive impact of remote work on your work-life balance.
Employers are increasingly focused on supporting employees’ mental health, so explain how a healthy work-life balance contributes to higher productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction.
Consider mentioning details about how a flexible schedule eliminates a lengthy commute.
Or, touch on your lower stress with a well-balanced lifestyle and how that lower stress has resulted in higher-quality work and increased productivity.
How To Ask for Remote Work, a Hybrid Schedule, or Other Work-From-Home Options
When launching the remote work discussion during an interview, you’ll want to word it as an investigative analysis, rather than an ultimatum.
Use the following sample questions as templates to organize your thoughts:
- “I noticed that the company embraced remote work in the past. Can you share some insights into how the company views remote work arrangements moving forward?”
- “In my previous role, I successfully worked remotely and found it improved my productivity. Is there a possibility of exploring remote work options with this position?”
- “Are specific roles within the organization more suitable for remote work than others?”
- “During my research, I saw that some job postings were for remote work. Is a part of this team/department distributed, and how do managers handle collaboration with remote employees?”
- “While on LinkedIn, I noticed that the organization supports remote work. Does the organization provide any tools or technologies to help with remote work?”
If you still haven’t gotten a clear picture, you can use answers to these questions to move the conversation to a more direct question about your potential role.
Address Potential Concerns
Get ahead of concerns and doubts the employer might have by proactively addressing them. Lean into your remote work experience.
Demonstrate that you have strategies to overcome remote work-specific challenges, such as distractions and a dedicated workspace.
How To Negotiate Remote Work Options
So, what happens if the company says no, this role isn’t currently designated as a remote role?
At this point in the interview process, if you’re excited about the opportunities the company offers, consider some alternatives that could be a win-win for you and the company.
Offer Flexible or Hybrid Options
Consider requesting flexible or hybrid work arrangements instead of a fully remote role. This might be perceived as a balanced solution, benefiting both employee and employer.
Mention your awareness of the challenges of remote work, and come to the discussion with a tailored approach that enables you to remain productive and connected to your team while working remotely.
Suggest a Trial Period for Remote Work
If the role hasn’t been remote in the past, suggest a trial period that would demonstrate your ability to work effectively from home before asking for a more long-term arrangement.
Provide insight into your reasoning, such as work environment preferences that make remote work more suitable.
Ensure that everyone’s clear on how success will be defined and how long the trial run is, and put it in writing.
Successfully Asking About Remote Work During the Interview Process
At the end of the day, it’s essential to approach this topic thoughtfully, addressing any potential concerns or challenges and offering solutions for how you could make it work.
You can find a remote work arrangement that works for both parties with the right balance of investigation, open communication, and proactive problem-solving strategies.