Before Suzanne Garner worked remotely, part of her job search and interview preparation involved practicing driving to and from her potential new office, previewing the route and the red lights that might to delay. But since she started working from home seven years ago, she says “all that stress goes away” now when it comes to job hunting: interviewing for a new job, she doesn’t have to make excuses to be out of the office, schedule early morning calls when her boss won’t hear her, or hop on a plane to meet potential employers, let alone do her homework on traffic lanes.
“Before remote work became more mainstream, I wasn’t even looking for businesses outside of driving distance,” says Garner, who lives in San Diego and works as marketing director for Outcomes4Me, a news platform on health based in Boston since the end of March. “Working remotely definitely provides more flexibility in terms of when and where to meet for interviews.”
With the pandemic-induced pivot towards more virtual work, more job seekers are experiencing not only the freedom to interview for remote jobs, but the ease of doing so outside of their manager’s view. . Gone are the days of having to put on a suit jacket at least a block from the office to secretly dress for an interview. For many, muffled, headlong calls to coordinate interview logistics are a thing of the past. Sick days are no longer needed to cross town or country for an interview.
Much has been made of how the Great Resignation is driven, in part, by workers’ access to a national pool of remote jobs. But there’s a less trumpeted factor at play: Many interview barriers are being eroded for job seekers who are in the privacy of their home office, work flexible hours, and can step away at any time.
According to the latest update from WFH Research, a project launched in May 2020 by an economist and professors from Stanford University and ITAM in Mexico to track working arrangements and attitudes, nearly half of 2,000 US workers surveyed say working from home has made it easier to interview for potential jobs.
Writing about the results, which the researchers say they plan to continue exploring in the coming months, they write that “working from home can make it easier to take 30 minutes to an hour to do a virtual interview, or browse job postings and fill out applications on a personal device without worrying about colleagues and managers snooping over your shoulder.
One of the researchers, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, said when your boss knows you’re interviewing for another job, it can be bad news. “If you’re actively looking for another job and interviewing with three or four different companies, it’s extremely difficult if you work in the office every day, because you have to come up with so many excuses,” Bloom says. “Maybe you are manufacturing a whole disease – I don’t know. But it is difficult.”
Interviewing while working remotely allows employees to schedule even more interviews than ever before, says Carly Mednick, a 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 winner and founding partner of the Monday Talent recruitment agency. “If you factor in a one-hour interview, the trip to and from the office, we can be talking about two hours or more of time to cut out.”
As location is no longer a requirement, the pool of jobs has not only expanded; the search process has less friction. When the time came for Maia Thornton to interview for her new role as Senior Knowledge Specialist at Bain & Company, she didn’t have to worry about booking flights and taking time off to travel and was able to focus on maintenance.
“It was really seamless for me to continue to do my job and look after my own career development as well,” says Thornton, who is currently based in Columbus. “I relied on LinkedIn, and I didn’t have to worry about travel and days off.”
Working from home makes it easier to schedule these interviews. For BJ Schone, who joined feature management platform LaunchDarkly as director of learning and development in April, the biggest benefit of searching for jobs remotely was saving time.
“Maybe that’s why it’s easier for some people to change so much during the Great Resignation,” says San Diego-based Schone. “You can just hop on a Zoom call from your own room and conduct all the interviews there.”
He says jumping offline for a 30-minute interview or a quick chat with a recruiter was easier to schedule at home. The same was true for filling out job applications.
“For many employees, it was like going to preschool and being watched, making sure they were at their desks or in the cubicles,” says Antonio Neves, career coach for mid-career professionals.
The role has changed, says Neves. Job seekers now interview employers just as much as employers interview them. Employees, especially mid-career professionals, he says, now have more say and decide more often to “dip their feet in the water to see what’s going on.”
In the future, the ease of interviews, Bloom predicts, will lead to permanent employee turnover and impulsive job changes, in the same way that online shopping has increased impulse spending. “We’ll see the same thing with people changing jobs, because it’s so easy now, when you’re working remotely, to do it very quickly,” he says. “You can have jobs where you apply in the morning, schedule an interview later in the day, and if you’re a great candidate, have a job offer at the end of the day.”