9 Remote Job Interview Questions Every Interviewer Should Ask
If you’ve worked remotely for a bit, you know better than most that remote work brings a unique set of challenges. Working from home has been misrepresented in popular culture, and many new remote workers have false expectations of what a virtual workday will be like.
Along with traditional interview questions, if you’re hiring for a remote role, you’ll need to determine how realistic and prepared the potential hire is for remote work life.
Remote Interview Questions
Realistically, you need to discover if the worker envisions working in their pajamas every day without a schedule or accountability. What are their plans for mitigating loneliness? What about combatting distractions that come along? To determine these answers, we’ve rounded up some questions for you to work into your interview routine.
1. Why does working remotely appeal to you?
Almost everyone wants workplace flexibility, but the reasons why can vary from job seeker to job seeker. While you can’t directly ask a candidate about their personal life (i.e., if they’re married, have kids, etc.), asking why they want to work remotely can give you a pretty good idea of the personal factors motivating their desire for flex.
You may discover that your top candidate is the spouse of active-duty military personnel and has to relocate frequently. Another might be a mom looking to get back into the workforce but needs flex in order to take care of her family. Understanding why your prospective candidate wants flex can help you get a bigger-picture perspective of who they are.
Ideally, this will also help you screen out candidates who are seeking remote work because they view it as easier and imagine being able to be less productive. Those that have tied remote work into long-term professional goals are most likely to succeed, as they’ve analyzed not only the benefits of working remotely but how this role fits into their overall career development plan.
2. Do you have previous remote work experience?
While it’s not a deal-breaker if your job candidate doesn’t have remote work experience, it’s ideal if they do. Why? Well, if they’ve already worked remotely then they know, more or less, the ins and outs of working from home. They understand the need to self-manage, be proactive about communicating, and remain focused on work tasks without the presence of other coworkers and managers.
If they’ve done this successfully in the past, you can feel more confident knowing that they’ll be able to get right into the swing of things (without going through office withdrawal) if they’re hired on.
3. How would you describe your communication style?
It’s easy for remote workers to work in a bubble, but they need to be strong communicators to get the job done effectively. So, find out what your candidate’s preferred method of communication is. Maybe they’re an instant-message addict, or they might want to pick up the phone if they need clarification on a project.
Regardless of their choice, it’s important to uncover if your candidate knows the importance of communication in a remote work environment. However, if they seem hesitant or unsure of their communication style and needs, it’s possible that they might not excel in a remote work environment.
They also need to be comfortable communicating on various platforms and mediums. Most teams use multiple apps, such as Slack, Zoom, email, and more. If they respond that they greatly dislike video messaging, but your team relies heavily on visual team collaborations, that might be a red flag.
4. What work-related challenges do you anticipate, and how do you foresee resolving them?
In a typical office environment, it’s kind of easy to assess if an employee is having a problem. They might look sullen, overwhelmed, or just seem disengaged. But in a remote work environment, where all of these visual clues are absent, it can be a lot harder.
If the candidate has completed their research and created a realistic plan, then they’ll have an answer that portrays that. Something like, “I’m concerned about working from home during the summer when the swimming pool outside my apartment gets busy and noisy. One of the reasons I’m attracted to this role is the ability to work at a quieter location in the afternoons, such as the library or the business center.”
Your candidate might respond with concerns about tech issues, loneliness, or fitting in with a new team they’ve never met in person. While there’s no right or wrong answer here, you are looking to discover if your candidate is realistic about aspects of remote work they might find challenging.
5. What does your ideal work schedule look like?
Sure, your remote company may be a results-only work environment (ROWE) where employee productivity is measured on output, not the number of hours they clock at their desks. But the most successful team members are the ones who have a plan and maintain routine work schedules.
Ideal candidates have a solid plan in place for how they’ll navigate distractions and self-manage various duties. Depending on the scope of their work, having a transparent schedule might be essential for team projects. Are they willing to openly share their availability?
6. How would you rate your tech skills?
No doubt about it—tech is one of the driving forces of the remote workplace. That’s why, regardless of industry, it’s critical for any newbie worker to feel comfortable using collaboration tools, email, instant messaging, productivity trackers, and so on.
While there is always a learning curve for tech tools once hired, it would be in your best interest if your candidate felt comfortable learning and troubleshooting new hardware and software. Working remotely, they need to recognize that they’ll be their own tech department and feel comfortable researching solutions when necessary.
7. How do you anticipate creating boundaries between work and home life?
Without the ability to leave work at the office, it can be challenging for some team members to create healthy boundaries. This includes lunches and breaks when they might find themselves eating at their desks. Another concern is the tendency not to get outside as often, which is harmful to their health and productivity.
Understanding how they will prevent burnout and create a healthy end to their work tasks that leaves plenty of time for home life is essential for their longevity.
8. Where will you set up your workspace?
Not every worker will have a home office setup, but the reality is that they need to have a plan that has considered any potential challenges.
How will they connect securely if they love working at the local coffee shop? Are they dreaming of working outdoors? If the role requires a secure connection with a headset and a large monitor, that’s not going to be a great fit. What about others in the home? If your company works with sensitive information, this might not work, so they’ll need to consider their plan B.
While you shouldn’t rule out anyone who doesn’t have a home office, you should take some time to ensure that they’ve thought through their game plan.
9. What will you miss about working in an office?
If they’ve never worked remotely before, the candidate needs to analyze if they need face-to-face socialization. Often, new remote workers discover that their ideal remote schedule is a hybrid workweek that allows them to work in the office several days a week. It’s best to recognize this before they find themselves in a fully remote role.
Asking Behavioral Questions
Traditional interview questions will help you narrow down the candidates based on skills and experience. When you are interviewing for a remote role, you’ll want to include questions that ensure that the candidate hasn’t romanticized remote work.
If they’ve carefully analyzed the pros and cons and created a realistic view of the day-to-day life of working with a distributed team, then chances are they’d make a great remote team member.
To learn more about interviewing remote job candidates and managing a remote team, check out our Q and A’s with leading remote companies and virtual teams.
By Kimberli Lowe-MacAuley | August 1, 2022 | Categories: Build a Remote Team