For many professionals, the pandemic-driven shift to flexible, remote work has been a welcome change. According to a survey by PwC, 74% of Australians prefer a mix of remote and in-person working, while 16% want a wholly virtual environment where they can work from any location. Conversely, just 10% of Australians favour a traditional face-to-face work environment.
In line with changing employee expectations, many companies have already adjusted their workplace flexibility policies to allow WFH on a more long-term basis.
But as a candidate, when and how should you broach the topic of working from home opportunities during a job interview?
Here are some key points to consider for before, during and after your job interview when it comes to asking about WFH.
Before the interview: Prioritise workplace flexibility in your job search
If regular on-site work is a dealbreaker for you, factor this in when first browsing job opportunities and keep an eye out for job listings where the option to work from home is explicitly stated.
Even if a job listing doesn’t mention flexible work, many company websites include information about WFH or hybrid work policies – so spend more time researching this before applying.
Although many companies have revisited their approach to flexible work as a result of the pandemic, remember that they could still be in the process of implementing new or updated flexible work policies.
To that end, don’t completely rule out a job opportunity just because the listing or company doesn’t mention flexible work. Instead, enquire with the hiring manager or recruiter if contact details have been provided in the job ad. Otherwise, remember that it will need to be discussed in more detail if you are asked to attend an interview. More on this in the chapter below.
During the interview: Ask the question, but be tactful
It’s reasonable to ask about flexible work arrangements during a job interview or even a pre-screening call, as long as you approach the question tactfully. Consider these tips:
Don’t make it the first thing you ask
Just like salary discussions, asking about working from home should wait until an appropriate moment after you’ve demonstrated your eagerness and capability for the role. Depending on the situation, this could be toward the end of the interview or in a follow-up discussion.
Keep it general
Rather than flat out asking, “Will I be able to work from home?”, broach the topic more generally to gauge how the company and interview view flexible work. Try asking something like, “Does your team work flexibly, or mostly in the office?” Then again, if WFH is a non-negotiable due to reasons such as carer responsibilities, ensure you provide enough context around your personal circumstances - you don't want to mislead your potential employer about your needs and expectations.
Consider the other benefits of the job
Perhaps you went into the interview convinced that remote work would be a given for this job, only to find out that the hiring manager prefers their team to come into the office as much as possible. Unless WFH is a non-negotiable for you, don’t forget to weigh up the other potential benefits of the role, such as remuneration, workplace perks, training and development opportunities, work-life balance, and even technology or work equipment for hybrid arrangements.
After the interview: Get confirmation
If you’re fortunate enough to receive a job offer after the interview, make sure to get clarity on the terms of the company’s WFH policy and how it will apply to you.
While you might have received tentative confirmation during the interview, now is the time to ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations. You may want to check if the WFH arrangement will appear on your official employment contract, particularly if your case is a special exception versus the company’s general workforce.
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