by Matt Higgins
If you’re a job seeker, here’s a piece of advice you likely won’t hear from anyone else: Never ever ask an employer what their remote work policy is during the job interview.
Before you say, “OK, boomer. Times have changed!”, know that I’m actually a firm believer in hybrid and remote work. It removes much of the pointless face time and unnecessary friction of office life. Plus, people who have more agency in their lives are generally happier.
But it’s time to face reality. As the Federal Reserve continues its rate-hiking campaign to tame inflation, millions of jobs could be at risk this year.
As a CEO, investor and founder, I’ve learned a lot about dealing with uncertainty. After acceptance, the second rule of crisis management is survival — and landing a job in this soon-to-be cutthroat job market will require some finessing and compromising.
What employers really think about remote work
A 2022 survey from GoodHire found that 78% of managers thought some in-person work was preferred. And 51% said their companies would “definitely consider” pay cuts for employees that refused to return to the office.
Inevitably, many leaders and CEOs, like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, believe the pendulum has swung too far in favor of remote work, and that performance is suffering as a result.
Taking it one step further, following their mass layoffs, Meta has paused offering remote work options for new hires.
It doesn’t matter how exceptional you are
Whether it’s fair or not, some managers will perceive initial interview questions about remote work as telegraphing the wrong priorities. Even for me, it’s an immediate red flag.
Imagine this scenario: You close your interview with a question about remote work and get a chilly reception. The next day, the hiring manager meets another candidate who says they could be in the office bright and early the next Monday morning.
Sure, you may be more qualified. But there is a real chance that the other job seeker will be perceived as more committed. This might hold true even for managers at companies that have very robust remote work policies.
Wait until you’re called back
What if a non-remote job is a deal breaker for you? First, do your own sleuthing. There are endless resources online to look behind the curtain.
You already put in the work to interview, you might as well defer the question until you are invited back to a second round. Why? Managers are inflexible in the abstract, but will bend over backwards once they are smitten with a candidate.
Basically, make a great first impression when the stakes are high. Your excellent job interviewing skills might have created some leverage to fit within a company exception.
And who knows, you may end up working from Bali after all.
Matt Higgins is an investor and CEO of RSE Ventures. He began his career as the youngest press secretary in New York City history, where he helped manage the global press response during 9/11. Matt’s book, “Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your Full Potential,” is out now.