What to ask candidates for remote jobs
When interviewing candidates for remote positions, make sure they are able to perform their tasks offsite.
Here are some challenges that distributed teams face:
- Communication. Problems escalate if remote employees miscommunicate. It gets even harder when team members are in different time zones.
- Lack of direct supervision. Managers need to trust that employees are productive. It’s also difficult to determine whether remote employees are engaged with their work.
- Culture fit. Remote employees may find it difficult to integrate into the team’s culture, as they don’t interact with their coworkers regularly in-person.
Tackle these challenges by hiring remote employees who are:
- Good communicators, in verbal and written formats
- Motivated with a problem-solving attitude
- Self-disciplined and organized
Also, ask candidates whether they have the necessary equipment to work remotely (e.g. a computer and internet connection) unless your company provides it.
Here are sample questions to ask when interviewing candidates for remote jobs:
Sample interview questions for remote workers
- Do you have access to a computer, a reliable internet connection and a private space?
- If you have worked remotely before, what were the biggest challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
- How do you schedule your day?
- What kinds of distraction do you usually have when working from home? How do you ensure they don’t interfere with the quality of your work?
- Do you check your emails after work?
- How do you make sure you switch off from work?
- What would you do if you had internet connection problems during a meeting with your manager or a call with a customer?
- What calendar and task management applications do you use?
- You have a big project to complete with team members who are based in the office. How would you work with them to complete the project on time?
- How do you stay motivated during the day without supervision?
- What measures do you take to store files (digital and physical) securely?
- What would you do if you had an urgent question and your team was offline?
- What medium would you choose to have a difficult conversation with a colleague and why? (e.g. video call, email, instant message)
How to evaluate candidates for remote jobs
- Conduct video interviews to test communication abilities. Distributed teams often interact via Skype or Hangouts, so candidates should feel confident during your interviews. Also, check whether candidates are able to overcome potential issues (e.g. a bad signal) with grace.
- Include written assignments. Good remote employees should write clear emails and reports that minimize back-and-forth communication. This is especially important if your teams are in different time zones which can make real-time communication infrequent. Also, test whether candidates are able to follow instructions and submit projects on time.
- Assess critical-thinking skills. Remote workers don’t have the ability to stop by their manager’s office and pose their questions. That’s why it’s best to hire people who are decisive and take initiative, when appropriate. Hypothetical scenarios will help you identify candidates who use sound judgement to overcome challenges.
- Mind cultural fit. Despite geographical boundaries, your employees should share the same values in order to collaborate well. Ask about candidates’ motives and way of working to determine whether they’d be a good fit for your role. Also, pay attention to candidates’ questions for you to identify people who understand and are interested in your business objectives.
It’s a warning sign when candidates for remote jobs:
- Have poor communication skills. Working remotely means employees need to communicate clearly. Candidates who struggle during video interviews and have poor email communication abilities mightn’t be a good fit.
- Lack team spirit. Remote employees might work on their own, but they still collaborate with colleagues and participate in group projects. Candidates should strike a balance between being able to work autonomously and being good team players.
- Are not comfortable with technology. If you’re using messaging tools, cloud applications and video calls to collaborate with your distributed team, hire people who can easily adjust to a virtual work environment.
- Struggle to balance work and personal life. Remote jobs often have flexible work schedules. But, candidates who find it hard to put a limit on the number of their working hours might get burned out.