A workplace tug-of-war is currently playing out on a national scale.
After several years of remote and hybrid work arrangements necessitated by the pandemic, employers want their people back in the office. On the other hand, employees have had a taste of the freedom that comes with working from home, and they’re pushing back.
For many job seekers, the ability to work remotely is a must-have to accept a new position. If that’s a condition of your job search, prospective employers will likely have a pressing question for you: why?
We’ll explain how to answer the interview question “Why do you want to work from home?” so you can land a job that offers you the flexibility and convenience of remote work.
Why do interviewers ask why you want to work from home?
Remote work has pros and cons. Some studies have shown that productivity actually goes up when employees are allowed to work from home, but others have revealed the exact opposite. In short, many employers are still concerned that employees who work from home don’t give their full attention and effort to their job. Interviewers ask this question to see if their fears are warranted.
An employer wants to hear your justification for working from home to see if it’s practical. They’ll be on high alert for red flags, like candidates who want to work from home to avoid oversight or put in fewer hours.
What hiring managers are looking for in an answer about working remotely
It’s simple: they want to know you have a good reason to work from home. Many employers will no longer support remote work for its own sake; they want to hear how it’s in the company’s best interest.
They also want to understand whether you can do the job without being onsite. Your answer will help them assess your level of self-sufficiency and important work-from-home skills like time management, which will influence whether you get the job.
How to answer, “Why do you want to work from home?”
Assess how you will benefit
First, define the reasons you want to work from home. This is your own personal list, so it’s okay if things like ‘working in pajamas’ are part of it, but also try to cover the deeper driving factors.
For example, if your last boss was a micromanager, maybe you’re craving more independence. If you’re easily distracted by noisy coworkers, maybe the peace and quiet of your living room seems like your dream work environment.
Explain how it’s a win-win
Now, figure out how to position the personal benefits you listed as wins for the employer. For example, if you loathe commuting, explain how to allocate some of the time you’ll save to your job duties. If you hate mornings but love working late at night, communicate how the flexibility will help you do your best work for the company.
Gain their confidence
In addition to sharing your reasons for wanting to work from home, your answer must instill confidence that you can do it successfully. Provide content that shows you’re a consummate professional and not someone who needs their manager looking over their shoulder to perform.
If you’ve already worked from home for several years, this would be a great time to share some of the impressive things you achieved without being physically in the office.
How not to answer
Giving too much personal information
For example, many parents love the ability to work from home because it makes childcare a bit easier. However, a reason like this can give an employer pause, causing them to worry that you’ll be focused on your kids and not your work.
You want to keep your answer grounded in reasons directly related to your performance–productivity, creativity, time savings, etc.
Naming superficial reasons
This isn’t an interview question to take lightly, so don’t say that you like the idea of being close to the fridge for snacks or that you want to be able to wear your fuzzy slippers without judgment.
Sample answers to the question, “Why do you want to work from home?”
In this question and others during your interview, don’t forget to emphasize the other reasons you want the position–not just because you want to work from home. Ultimately, your physical location is secondary to whether you’re, in fact, the best person for the job.