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How To Answer Interview Questions About Remote Work

How To Answer Interview Questions About Remote Work

If you’re interviewing in 2021 and beyond, chances are, interviewers will ask you questions about remote work. The modern workforce is rapidly changing, and many managers are rethinking their previous aversions to working from home. So, how do you address it during your interview? First, there are two different situations we must examine: if you have experience working remotely and if you do not.

If You Have Remote Work Experience

Having experience makes fielding questions about working remotely a little less intimidating. However, it’s still important to prepare yourself! Prior to your interview, take some time to think about your previous work from home position(s). Here are some common questions that you can expect in your interview:

  • Who was your supervisor, and how did you communicate?
  • What was your accountability structure?
  • How did you fight distractions?
  • How did you prioritize your tasks?
  • What are your strategies for maintaining a work-life balance?
  • How did you overcome any obstacles that came up?
  • How did you stay in touch with fellow team members?
  • What was the most challenging thing about working remotely?

If You Do Not Have Experience Working Remotely

If you don’t have experience working remotely, make that known upfront. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie or be put in a position to handle something you’re not equipped for. Instead of answering questions related to past experiences, you’ll need to be able to speak on common remote work skills such as your adaptability and accountability. Here is an excellent example script that you can customize to fit your personality, skills, and experience.

“While I don’t have any previous experience working remotely, it’s something I believe I would excel at. In previous positions, I’ve been largely independent – charged with setting my own schedule, meeting deadlines with little assistance, and jumping in to help on projects in other offices. I pride myself on being adaptable, focused, and innovative. For example, when I finish one project, I don’t just sit there twiddling my thumbs until I am assigned something else. I always keep a collection of back-burner projects and tasks that I can jump into at any time. This helps me stay productive and motivated!”

Either way, it’s essential, to be honest. While working from home can be rewarding, it also comes with its fair set of challenges. Be sure to assess if this remote position is indeed the right opportunity for you! And if you need more interview advice or tips on working remotely, be sure to explore our candidate resources.

4 Items to Improve Your Work from Home Experience

4 Items to Improve Your Work from Home Experience

It’s been roughly a year since millions of people worldwide made the transition to working from home. If you are working remotely for the foreseeable future, it may be time to reassess your home “office” setup. If you are looking to improve your work from home experience this year, here are four items that may help.

A second monitor

Do you have a second monitor while working from the office but not at your home? If you don’t have the luxury of working with a second screen, it’s time to request one. Whether that’s asking your supervisor if you can grab yours from your office or asking your IT team to send you one, having a second monitor is a massive productivity boost. Instead of using a tiny 15′ (or smaller) laptop screen, secure a second monitor to view multiple windows, applications, and other documents side by side. Say goodbye to switching back and forth between windows all day! Plus, a second screen can streamline your communications by having your Zoom, Slack, or Teams app open on one screen while looking at your other.

Blue light-filtering glasses

If you are like most people throughout the pandemic, your screen time has massively increased. Workers across the globe are reporting an average workday of 2.5 hours longer while working from home. The result of extended screen time can be eye strain. And according to a report by Eyesafe Nielsen, the average screen time per person rose 60%, to more than 13 hours a day, in March 2020. When you stare at a screen longer, you are blinking less, which can harm your vision. To counter this, invest in some blue light-filtering glasses. These glasses (which don’t require a prescription) can help filter out the harmful blue light emitted from screens. It’s essentially a nighttime mode on your phone for your eyeballs. Using a pair of these glasses can help your eyes feel less fatigued and are a must to improve your work from home experience. Plus, they are pretty affordable!

A furry coworker

If you are missing your coworkers a little too much, you can always adopt a furry one! Pet adoptions have exploded over the last 12 months. In fact, Animal Shelter Count tracks shelter adoptions across the nation with over 500 rescue organizations. They recorded 26,000 more pet adoptions in 2020 than the year prior – a 15% increase. Having pets can help keep you company, boost your mood, and make you more active. Sometimes we all need a nudge to step away from our computer for a few minutes, and a furry coworker can be very convincing!

Meal prep services

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after working all day from home is cook. Currently, it’s more challenging to go grocery shopping or go out to eat (depending on where you live). An easy way to spice up your lunches or dinners is meal prep services. There are many options available, like Blue Apron, Home Chef, and HelloFresh that offer tasty and healthy meal prep services. You can customize them for your house’s meal planning needs and can cancel anytime you want. If you are looking to spice up your meals and sick of thinking about what to cook every night, give one of these tasty services a try!

These are just a few items to consider adding to improve your work from home experience. If you are interested in reading more career or work from home advice, visit our blog!

3 Interview Questions You Should Ask Remote Work Candidates

3 Interview Questions You Should Ask Remote Work Candidates

It’s been nearly a year since the beginning of the pandemic where thousands of companies were forced to transition to a remote working environment. This transition is temporary for some employers, but many are permanently shifting operations to allow their staff to work from home. Regardless of which boat your company is in, you will eventually have to hire a new staff member on a remote basis. Hiring someone for a remote position takes a unique skill set and requires you to ask different interview questions to ensure candidates will be the right fit. You need to understand if they are reliable, flexible, and excellent communicators. Here are three interview questions you should ask remote work candidates.

Have you worked remotely in the past?

First of all, you want to understand in what capacity they have worked remotely in the past. Are they currently working remotely? Or are they considered an essential worker and able to work on-site? Shifting from working on-site to your home “office” is challenging, and you need to see if your prospective candidates are up for the task. You are looking for qualified candidates that fit the work style or environment. Understanding what capacity a candidate has worked from home is an excellent first step.

If a candidate has not worked remotely, that is not a dealbreaker. You will just want to look for qualities in their answers to understand if they fit that working style.

What types of communication tools have you used, and how did you use them?

Asking a candidate what type of communication tools they use will help you understand how they will virtually work with others. You want to see what tools they have used in the past and how they have used them to communicate. Clear communication while working from home is essential. They don’t necessarily have to have experience with the same tools your team uses. For example, skills with Microsoft Team will undoubtedly translate into using Zoom or Slack. Most importantly, is learning how they use these tools to work with others successfully and complete assignments.

How do you control your time management and remain organized?

Time management and organizational skills are crucial for remote workers. It is much easier to check in on workers when you physically share office space. However, when people work remotely, they have much more independence; candidates will be more responsible for managing their time and organization. Asking this question will allow you to understand how a prospective candidate keeps track of their time, prioritize their work, and stay organized throughout the day. Answers will differ from person to person. So, what you are looking for is that they have a thoughtful method for managing their time and staying focused.

Need more hiring input?

So, these are three basic interview questions you should ask remote work candidates to see if they are a strong fit for your team. If you need more help vetting candidates for remote assignments, reach out to our team at JSG. We can help you identify the candidates that will make an immediate impact on your team from the safety of their homes. Let’s work together!

The 2021 Job Search Checklist

The 2021 Job Search Checklist

If you are ready to seek new employment opportunities in 2021, there are a few things you need to do to be successful. The labor market is still in recovery mode, and you will need to put in a little extra work to land a job this year. Here is the 2021 job search checklist to help ensure you land the job you’ve been working hard to find.

Are you ready to work remotely?

When you are looking for a new job this year, there are a few questions you should ask yourself; one of these questions is, are you ready to work remotely? Even after the virus is long-gone, remote work will be here to stay in some fashion. Many employers are permanently moving to remote working environments, while others will offer a hybrid system where you will work both onsite and at home. So like it or not, working from home is the new normal. And that’s not a bad thing! There are many benefits to working from home, like a more extensive job market pool for you to enter. You may no longer be restricted to local job opportunities. Remote work allows job seekers to apply for exciting opportunities across the nation or even globally.

Give your resume a facelift

Giving your resume an upgrade is one of the most critical points on this job search checklist. Your resume is often your first impression, and if it’s not up to par, you could be disqualified from the hiring process. In 2021, there will be a lot of competition throughout your job search. To stay a step ahead of your fellow job seekers, you must tailor your resume for each position. If you blindly submit your resume to every job posting you see, you won’t have a lot of luck. Quality is better than quality when it comes to your job search. Customize your resume objective, tweak your skills section, and reword your bullets to fit the job description better.

Look outside your current field

We have been talking about this a lot lately. 2021 may be the year of a career shift. And we are not just talking about switching jobs; we are talking about changing careers entirely or transitioning to an unfamiliar sector. Some industries are performing better than others right now, and it may be time to shift to one of these areas. If you have the right transferrable skills, your opportunities are virtually endless. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into a new career.

Network early and often

Another essential bullet point on the 2021 job search checklist is networking. Many people underestimate the value of networking. It unlocks doors to opportunities you would never find on job boards. Also, networking gives you a sense of camaraderie. If you have been hunting for a new job for a while, you are not alone. Networking allows you to share your stories with others that are also struggling and provides a platform to help one another out. You never know who can lead you in the right direction or make an introduction in your network. Network early and often to make the most out of your job search. And once you land a job, don’t forget to share with your network. They are invested in your career adventure and would love to share this exciting moment with you.

Partner with a recruiter

The final mark on the job search checklist is to reach out to a recruiter. If you really want to optimize your energy and time spent on your job search, work with a recruiting firm. Our JSG recruiters have access to exclusive job opportunities, work with clients that are ready to make hiring decisions immediately, and have your best interest at heart. Partner with us today and let us help you find your next job opportunity this year. Take a look at our job board and let’s work together.

3 Tips to Boost Your Time Management During the Holiday Season

3 Tips to Boost Your Time Management During the Holiday Season

During the chaotic last two months of the year, time management becomes one of our biggest challenges. With end-of-the-year projects, budgets, and the holidays, this time of year can really be stressful. Add a pandemic in the mix, and things get a whole lot more interesting. If you are struggling to stay focused during this time of the year, here are three tips to boost your time management during the holidays.

Make a list (and check it twice)

We have published numerous articles about utilizing lists to help you stay on track, and that is because it works. Write down all of your weekly tasks or break them down into daily accomplishments, if that works better for you. Write these tasks down and cross them off once you’ve completed them. Nothing feels more satisfying than checking off something from your to-do list! The holidays are hectic, and making lists can help mitigate some stress and improve your time management.

Eliminate distractions

The holidays create a lot of distractions: shopping, family get-togethers, and everything in between. This year might look different for most, but that doesn’t mean there are no distractions. Many of you are still working remotely, which creates a whole new field of possible distractions. Maybe it’s your kids finishing off the year with distanced learning, your partner or roommate bugging you all day, or even your pets; working from home creates a bunch of distractions.

This year, to boost your time management during the holiday season, try and eliminate some of these distractions. Turn off the Christmas movies, put on some headphones, lock yourself in another room … whatever it is that you have to do to be more productive. By removing some of these distractions, you can improve your time management and start crossing some tasks off that list!

Don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help

People often struggle to delegate, especially right now. Many workers feel obligated to be connected 24/7 to prove that they are still working hard, even from their own homes. As a result, this might prevent you from delegating tasks to your team or even asking for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your team or boss if you need assistance. It’s better to ask for help on a project or delegate a task to a team member then be late on an assignment. Leveraging your team for support is one of the easiest ways to boost your time management this time of year.

October 2020 Jobs Report

October 2020 Jobs Report: 638,000 Jobs Added

According to the Labor Department, U.S. employers added 638,000 jobs last month, much than economists projected. This is the sixth month in a row of job gains as the country continues to recover from the pandemic. The unemployment rate also dropped to 6.9%, a whole percentage point lower than September’s rate. The positive results of this month’s report are primarily thanks to the decline in the number of temporary layoffs and a boost in seasonal hiring. Here is an overview of the October 2020 Jobs Report.

October 2020 Jobs Report Overview

U.S. employers are on a six-month streak of adding nonfarm payrolls. And with a massive decline in government workers due to the conclusion of the 2020 census, the Labor Department would have reported over 900,000 nonfarm payroll gains. “The 638,000 rise in nonfarm payrolls in October is stronger than it looks as it included a 147,000 drop in temporary Census employment and, alongside the big fall in the unemployment rate, it suggests that the labor market recovery still has plenty of momentum,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics.

This month’s gains are a shock to many economists as the number of positive coronavirus cases continues to surpass daily records. On November 5th, the U.S. reported almost 117,000 new coronavirus cases. And although we have made significant strides in our country’s recovery, there are still 11.1 million unemployed persons (down 1.5 million from last month).

Workers are returning on-site

A noticeable shift in the October Jobs Report was the number of remote workers returning on-site. 21.2% of employees last month worked remotely because of the virus. That is slightly down from September’s rate of 22.7%. This trend will be interesting to watch going forward as the number of positive cases continues to climb. Regardless of this slight decline, millions of people are still working remotely, and hiring managers will have to continue to change their processes to attract them.

Job gains by industry

Last month, U.S. employers added 638,000 nonfarm payrolls. Noticeable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (+271,000), professional and business services (+208,000), retail trade (+104,000), construction (+84,000), healthcare and social assistance (+79,000), transportation and warehousing (+63,000), manufacturing (+38,000), financial activities (+31,000), and other services (+47,000). Employment in government fell by 268,000, mostly due to the loss of 147,000 2020 Census workers.

Revision from the previous jobs report

The Labor Department reported that total nonfarm payroll employment gains have increased in previous months. In August, payrolls were revised up by 4,000, from +1,489,000 to +1,493,000, and in September, payrolls were revised up by 11,000, from +661,000 to +672,000. With revisions over the last two months combined, employment was 15,000 more than previously reported.

Find the talent you need before year’s end

We have less than two months left of 2020 (thankfully); it’s time to start thinking about your hiring needs going into the new year. There are millions of talented workers on the market, and you don’t want to wait to scoop them up, or you will miss out. If your hiring team needs assistance navigating this challenging, ever-changing labor market, reach out to us today. We are here to help you start the new year off on the right foot.

WFH burnout

3 Signs You’re on The Verge of A WFH Burnout

Show of hands: how many of you remote workers thought you would still be working from home in November? Yeah, neither did I. It has been a long eight+ months for most of us, and what seemed like a nice treat might be the bane of your existence. Working from home can be fantastic, but millions of remote workers are on the edge of a burnout. However, with a few tweaks in your day and good habits, you can combat this feeling and keep productivity rolling strong. Here are three signs you are on the verge of a WFH burnout (and how to avoid them).

You haven’t established WFH boundaries

Not everyone has the luxury of a quiet, at-home office to work from. In reality, you are probably working on your dining room table or the couch. And while your temporary setup might have been nice in the beginning, the lack of boundaries is starting to diminish your productivity. However, you may not have that leisure if you are also trying to facilitate your children’s distant learning or keep your dog entertained.

No matter what your work setup is, you have to set boundaries for yourself. Establish working hours (if possible) and create a space where all you do is work. If your entire home and day consist of working, you will quickly start to feel burnt out. Create healthy boundaries for yourself to improve your mental health, productivity, and job satisfaction.

You feel the need to respond instantly

While working from home, it is easy to feel the guilt of not responding to an IM or an email right away, even if it’s after your “working hours.” I get it; it’s hard to resist the urge to reply to a co-worker when you are off work but just a few feet away from your laptop. This is where you need to exercise self-control. It’s okay to read the message, but that doesn’t mean you have to respond right away. Of course, if it’s a work emergency, go ahead and reply. However, if it’s just a normal message, it can probably wait until tomorrow.

So many remote workers are on the verge of a burn out by always being available. It’s easy to do so or just think to yourself, “it will only take a few minutes. I can respond to that now.” But after eight months, that mentality starts to take a toll on you. Just like when working in the office, you are not always available, and that is okay. We must realize that we don’t need to instantly respond to every message to prove that we are working. If you struggle with this, put your email on do not disturb, or set quiet hours so that you don’t even see the messages come through at a time you set for yourself.

You don’t take any time off

It can be challenging to take time off right now. Let’s be frank; there isn’t a whole lot to do as far as vacations go. Regardless of our current circumstances, it is essential for your mental health and productivity to take time off. We earn vacation and PTO days for a reason; don’t be afraid to use those days to take a step away from all the chaos and relax. Even if you are just hanging out at home, taking a day off here and there is so rewarding. It makes you feel refreshed when you return to work and will help avoid WFH burnout.

And this doesn’t have to be a week-long vacation. This can be taking a Friday off to make a long weekend or taking a half-day to go enjoy some nice weather. So, if you have the time off, don’t be afraid to use it. The longer you put off carving out time for yourself, the closer you will be to a WFH burnout.

Relocating During the Pandemic

Relocating During the Pandemic Can Hurt Your Wallet

Back in July, we wrote an article speculating how remote work will affect salaries. We discussed how relocating during the pandemic to the suburbs or more rural locations could potentially impact your salary while working remotely. Software company VMware is one of the first real indicators of this phenomenon. A new report from Bloomberg reveals that they are allowing some of their staff to work from home permanently. However, there is a catch: if they relocate from their headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, they must accept a pay reduction to compensate for a lower cost of living. So, how will relocating during the pandemic hurt your wallet?

How much will a relocation affect your salary?

In this same report from Bloomberg, they spoke to anonymous workers from VMware. They reported that if they were to leave from Silicon Valley to Denver, they would take an 18% salary cut. And if they just moved to nearby San Diego or LA, their annual salary would take an 8% hit. And although the cost of living in these locations is cheaper, those are considerable decreases in an employee’s annual salary.

Other companies, mostly large tech firms, are considering similar approaches to relocations for remote employees. Twitter is considering a “competitive” approach to localizing compensation, while Facebook blatantly said it might cut their employees’ salaries, depending on where they relocate.

Other companies are taking a different approach

Another report indicates that Stripe, a financial services and software company, is handling remote relocations a little differently. It is rumored that Stripe is offering a $20,000 “relocation” bonus for those relocating from the Bay Area, NY, or Seattle, but is requiring a pay decrease up to 10%. This seems like a more promising approach to receiving a pay cut due to a cheaper cost of living.

There may be other relocation agreements with workers and their employers; however, we may start to see salaries decrease in bigger markets as a result.

What will be the long-term effect?

So, this begs the question: what will the long-term effect be of remote workers relocating? Would you take a pay cut to move to another location with a better cost of living and a smaller population? If you are considering relocating to a cheaper area or to one less densely populated to avoid the virus, here are some of the best places to restart your career after the pandemic.

If You Want A Work From Home Job, Master These 5 Skills

If You Want A Work From Home Job, Master These 5 Skills

In today’s climate, millions of people around the world are working from home. Additionally, more companies are hiring remote positions than ever before. This is excellent news if you are a job seeker looking for a little flexibility. However, it is important to note that hiring managers are looking for very specific things when hiring remote workers. According to Yunita Ong, an Editor at LinkedIn Asia, these are the five skills you need to master to snag a work from home job.

Time Management

When you work from home, you are often charged with managing your own schedule. Hiring managers will want to know that you can take a task list, prioritize it, and accomplish everything within deadlines. To draw attention to your time management skills, highlight them on your resume. Include time-specific accomplishments and even detail project timelines.

Tech & Data Mastery

Working remotely can be akin to working on a deserted island at times. You do not have a mentor over your shoulder, walking you through new technologies or an on-site IT team to help you when something goes awry. Advanced knowledge of popular professional technology such as Microsoft 365, databases, and the internet will definitely give you a leg up for a work from home job. Put a spotlight on these skills by listing your proficiency on your resume. You can even include a specific list of relevant skills, covering your experience with any technology listed in the job description.

Adaptability

If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s the value of being adaptable. In today’s world, circumstances can change in an instant. Hiring managers want to know that you can think on your feet, adapt to ever-changing environments, and pivot when needed. To show your adaptability, tell a story in your cover letter or interview. Discuss a time when something didn’t go as planned and how you handled it. This will demonstrate your ability to adapt, no matter the situation.

The Ability to Balance

Having your home and office in the same space creates a battle for your attention. Many managers are still hesitant to let their employees work from home, with concerns about their dedication and ability to balance at the forefront. They expect that you can accomplish just as much at home as you would in the office. (And in some cases, even more!) It can be hard to highlight this skill without prior remote work experience, but you can establish boundaries as early as the interview. Ask about the work from home culture so you can have a clear understanding of expectations.

Remote Work Experience

Hands down, the most valuable thing you can bring to the table as a candidate vying for a remote job is previous experience working remotely. Even if it was just temporary during the stay at home orders, having worked from home in the past gives you an upper hand. It means you know typical work from home etiquette, and you’ll most likely be a master at the other four essential skills.

Are you looking for a remote job? Explore our open positions here!

Take PTO During the Pandemic

Why You Should Take PTO During the Pandemic

Have you taken any vacation or PTO during the pandemic? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. A recent survey conducted by JSG indicates that 66% of people haven’t taken any time off throughout the pandemic. It can be challenging to justify taking time off with everything going on in the world right now – tight on funds, unemployment, difficulties traveling, limited activities available, etc. However, forgoing your vacation time starts to take a significant toll on your work productivity and happiness. Despite the virus, here is why you should take PTO during the pandemic.

The side effects of not taking PTO right now

It can be discouraging to take PTO given our current global pandemic. However, there are so many side effects of not utilizing your PTO, especially if you are working remotely. In fact, professionals working from home have an average workday that is 48.5 minutes longer than those working from the office. When working from home, the lines between work and home are easily blurred, making it difficult for you to unplug from your job. As a result, employee burnout is at an all-time high.

To mitigate this, you should be utilizing some of those PTO days that you have worked hard to earn. Even if it’s just a day or two, utilizing your vacation days will help lower stress, improve mental health, boost productivity, and increase job satisfaction. Harvard Business Review found that employees that use at least ten vacation days each year are 30% more likely to receive a raise. Plus, those who take regular vacations have higher job satisfaction. Obviously, this is easier said than done for many workers. Sometimes you feel that you have too much work to take time off, or maybe your manager is very approachable when it’s time to request some PTO days. Regardless of your situation, it is crucial for your health and quality of work to take time off, especially with all the extra stressors in each of our lives.

What can you do with those PTO days right now?

Besides financial reasons, the biggest excuse for not using some of those PTO days is the lack of activities to do right now. Sure, you may not be able to book a 7-day trip to Maui during the pandemic safely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your time off to unplug from work and relax.

You don’t have to have an elaborate plan to enjoy some time away from work. You can go on a camping trip, go for a hike, take a day-trip to the lake, go for a long drive, or even just take a day off to do some yard work around the house. Whatever you decide to do, plan it in advance. It will give you something to look forward to and help you keep that motivation up!

Just be sure to unplug from work. Set an out of office message for your email and try not to check your phone. You will return with a better attitude, less stress, and a boost in motivation.