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Tips On Getting a Work-From-Home Job, from the Remote Work Experts

At ModSquad, we were built on the work-from-home model. With COVID-19 forcing millions worldwide to adapt to the remote-work lifestyle, people have been trying to figure out how to limit distractions so they can work effectively. Since 2007, our Mods have created a level of success that has helped the company to grow year after year; clearly, we’ve mastered the art of working from home. If you’ve ever entertained the notion of remote work and have the expertise we’re looking for, consider ModSquad! 

Regardless of whether you’re applying here or somewhere else, we’re happy to share some of our work-from-home (WFH) knowledge to help you in your search. We spoke with Brian Tonar, our SVP of People Operations here at ModSquad, to find out what hiring managers look for when filling remote roles.

How do you recommend someone prepare for a job interview for a WFH position?

Making a great impression is always important, regardless of where or how your interview is being conducted. Find out if the interview will be by video or telephone. Make sure you test your equipment prior to the interview, so you can focus on the conversation and not worry about technical issues. 

For video interviews, it’s generally not necessary to dress in formal business attire. Be your authentic self and dress appropriately for the role and how you would show up on a daily basis. Be aware of what’s in your camera view; make sure it’s orderly. A messy backdrop may give the interviewer the wrong impression. Most video call tools have background filters; use them. If the job does not require you to be on video as part of the role, and you feel uncomfortable being on video, ask if it’s okay to keep your video off. If the interviewer pushes for video, you may want to ask yourself if that’s the right role and company for you. More importantly, find a quiet area free of background noise and distraction. The reality is people have kids, pets, and family members in their midst. We’ve all learned over the last several months that life happens, but in most cases, you want to demonstrate that you have a favorable environment in which to work.

Do your homework. Learn about the company and what they do, and think about how you can make a contribution. If you know who’s interviewing you, check out their LinkedIn profile and think of how the role you’re trying to obtain may be relevant to what they do for the company. Review your past experiences and be prepared to talk about your successes, strengths, and what you’ve learned from your mistakes that have made you a better and more valuable worker.

What qualities, skills, or personality traits do you look for when hiring someone to work from home, and why?

I’ve learned that someone who works well, regardless of the workplace, is usually going to work well at home and, in some cases, perform even better. Finding someone who’s self-motivated and a problem solver is important, as there may not always be someone right there to answer a question. I like to understand how they organize their day and set priorities. Asking about a past challenge where they had to deal with ambiguity and how they resolved it is a good window into how they might handle working a bit more independently from home. 

When considering someone for a home-based position, do certain criteria become more or less important, in comparison to someone who would work in an office setting?

Finding out what motivates someone to do their best is critical. Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean they don’t need to be engaged by their manager and team members. Some people thrive on working alone at home, but others get their energy from being around people. Collaboration tools like Slack really improve the ability for people to connect and be engaged in today’s global work environment, but they don’t always fill the need for the extroverts out there who gain energy being around people. Before we were all forced to become at-home workers and I interviewed people who had never worked from home before, I would spend a lot of time discussing work motivators, team vs. individual, quiet vs. chaos, and how to determine your sweet spot. I talk transparently about the work-at-home experience and how the candidate has managed in an environment that may be contrary to their comfort zone, or how remote working is the perfect fit for them, one that will help them excel at what they do best. 

As more and more people are looking for jobs that allow them to work from home, how can they be sure that they’re finding the right opportunities? 

Finding something you like and that meets your needs should be a priority. Be open to trying something new, and define for yourself what “right opportunity” means. Some define “right” by the size and revenue of the company, while others define it by the kind of work the company does, the mission of the business, or the impact the work gives to the greater good. The more you can define what you have passion for, what your needs are, and what’s important to you, the more you can be sure you’re targeting the right opportunity.  Working from home can bring a lot of benefits and rewards. At ModSquad, we have so many different opportunities, it can be easy to find something that fits your passion and needs. 

Many people joke about not having to get dressed or fix their hair, while others have pointed out the value of going through the process in order to maintain a sense of normalcy. What are your thoughts on finding the right balance with regard to self-care?

When you’re going into an office, it’s easy to develop a routine and stick with it. Working from home, it’s easy to ignore daily routine self-care, like going to the gym as part of your daily commute into or from the office. There’s also an anomaly that happens to remote workers, where you may feel the “must be on” guilt. You find that the time you’d normally be in commute or at the gym is now time you’re taking care of email. It’s really important to allow yourself to be away from the desk and schedule time for yourself. Giving yourself permission to remove that sense of guilt is essential for your physical and mental well-being. That’s part of the empowerment of working from home — you get more “me” time, not less.

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