Remote is so hot right now. However, if you want to work for a remote-first company there are a few things you need to know before applying as the hiring game is vastly different. Here at Aula Education, we get around 10K applicants a year for our tech jobs alone and we’re all about setting our candidates up for success so here are some tips that can be valuable for everyone.
Let’s get started.
Before you even start looking for jobs, have a deep thinking session with yourself on what it would mean to be a successful remote worker. Before you apply, make sure you got this covered:
It’s important that you get crystal clear on why you want to go remote and understand the up and downsides of working in a remote-first team. Many candidates only see the positives like “no commute” & “more family time” but are oblivious to the loneliness remote work can introduce in their life. I want you to tell me in a mature way how you plan to go about the limitations of remote work as well.
Before you start applying, invest in a webcam, a good webcam (I use this one, Techradar 2019 webcams). Doing calls from your integrated laptop camera is just not great. Apart from telling me how serious you take this I clearly feel the difference between an OK and a great setup being on the receiving end. While you are at it, get a good pair of headphones (I use this one, Techradar 2019 headphones).
You probably already noticed, but the talent pool for remote companies is mostly unlimited. You are up against the whole world: think Maria from Uruguay, Fredrik from Sweden and Dhruv from India. Think of creative ways you can set yourself apart from the other candidates.
Now that you’ve taken care of the basics to set you up for success, let’s get started on the ‘applying’ part of landing a remote job. Here are the things I hold in high regard when screening applications:
The one thing that I want to reinforce is that we look for people who can communicate asynchronously. Written communication is a key part of remote work, and it needs to be clear. If you can’t put your thoughts to paper, then you will hold yourself back from being hired in a remote role.
When answering the initial questions (for comparisons, check out Gitlab, Aula, Hotjar, Clevertech starting questions), it’s in your best interests to take your time. It’s clear when a candidate has rushed their responses, so don’t do this, as it often means auto-deny.
Being successful … it’s just like a nightclub. There are always three ways in. There’s the First Door: the main entrance, where ninety-nine percent of people wait in line, hoping to get in. The Second Door: the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities slip through. But what no one tells you is that there is always, always… the Third Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, climb over the dumpster, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen — there’s always a way in. — Alex Banayan
The ‘third door’ mentality can also help you get hired at a remote company. You can either apply where everyone else is applying and wait in line, or you take the third door. Here are two third door examples I’ve seen at Aula:
Building a custom website as an application
Lukas sent us a website built in react/redux answering the questions we ask + much more. He immediately stood out from the rest and got the final rounds at Aula. We concluded we were not the best match but we did intro him to Sketch where he currently works.
Building your application in Notion
Great, you’ve made it past the resume check! Now comes the interviews, which almost always starts with a screening call. This call is more important than you might want to believe. The person you’ll be speaking with will be your partner if you pass to the later rounds, so, a “this is just a screen ️call, whatever 💅” mentality is something that I strongly advise against (and unfortunately still see a lot).
Don’t underestimate the power of the recruiter within the remote organisation.
Recruiters working for a company are different than your third party recruiter. While you might be annoyed about the spam you receive from the latter, in-house recruiters are your friends during the hiring process. So come prepared to this first call, do some research on them as they will have on you. Most of the time the recruiter will try to align you with the companies values while extracting a few key traits they need for the role.
Bottom line here: a great recruiter will make you feel energized after the call, they left time in the end to answer your questions and are generally a good sneak peek into what the rest of the company is like.
So this really should be common sense but I do want to stress out the following things that I find important:
Don’t do any of the official video calls outside, on your mobile phone or in a coffee shop. (quick syncs with the recruiter after the first screen are OK)
Make sure things going on in the background are in check. If you have a bed in the background, make sure it’s tidy. Messy kitchen? No thanks.
If you are going to write things down, mention it to the attendees beforehand. (hopefully, the interviewers return the favour)
Check if things work prior to your call. That means your laptop is fully charged, your camera is working (and not smudged), you’ve pre-installed and tested whatever video call tool you are using during the call.
Your position, especially in relation to the sun matters.
Be there earlier than the interview panel.
Most companies send you off with something a-sync after the first screen, like some homework or a take-home test for you to complete. Here are some best practices:
Over-communicate: we like it when you show off your a-sync comms during the hiring process, so small updates on what you’ve been working on. Not making the deadline? That’s fine as long as you tell us in advance.
Be wary for “overpromise, underdeliver” syndrome: always go for “underpromise, overdeliver” instead.
As much as us companies like to believe that we are in the driving seat when hiring, trust me when I say that we are as much “on interview” as you are. Things to look out for during the hiring process:
How diverse was the interviewing team? Did you speak to a wide variety of people from different backgrounds?
If there were female or interviewers from underrepresented groups, how much were they involved? Did they actively participate or only sat in and listened?
Did you get feedback after every round? The positives but also the areas to improve?
Were the interviews scheduled with your best interest in mind or did you have to juggle unrealistic timezones?
Did you have to tell the same story twice in different interviewing rounds? Were the interviewers aligned?
Did the interviewers come prepared? Did they take the time or seemed rushed?
As a rule of thumb, the hiring process is like a miniature version of the company. If it’s awesome there is a good chance you have found yourself a great place to work. If it’s not, make sure you don’t sign up for something sub-par.
And with this, I leave you to it. I hope this helps you in your quest in finding a remote job.
We are hiring at Aula, find our open jobs at https://aula.education/careers.html
We open-sourced our handbook, you can find all our interview preparations there as well as how we do social life in a remote company or what we think remote work brings us as a company. Check it out:
The Aula Brain
And if you want to learn more about what kind of company we are under the hood, browse to our brand new Key Values profile: https://keyvalues.com/aula-education
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