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Remote Hiring: 5 Questions to Ask in a Remote Interview (And 1 You Should Never Ask)

afro hr manager having a remote hiring session


Remote hiring will soon be thought of as “normal” hiring. The coronavirus pandemic can teach us many lessons, but perhaps the biggest is that we need to be more flexible in how we approach work. Some of the global workforce is now returning to the office. However, many continue to work from home. That is unlikely to change soon.

And let’s face it: working from home has many benefits, but it’s not for everyone. The best remote employees are tech-savvy, adaptable, articulate, self-disciplined, and able to be team players in a virtual setting.

If you are an HR manager in the midst of this remote hiring boom, your job just got trickier. After all, if you aren’t careful, you could hire someone who isn’t suited for remote work.

As we reach peak remote hiring, you will need to tailor your interviewing process to identify the candidates who will function best in a virtual environment.

This article will help you do just that by sharing five questions you should ask in remote hiring interviews. 

To mix things up, we’ll also reveal a question you should never ask in this setting.  Sometimes the best way to learn what to do is by discovering what not to do!

5 Questions You Should Ask Job Candidates When Doing Remote Hiring

Question 1: What do you bring to the table that would help you excel as a remote worker?

Shows: Initiative, Leadership, Critical Thinking Skills

Effective remote workers are passionate about the job and will show it. Their answer to this question reveals what they think about the company and how well they know it. A good remote worker asks in-depth questions about the job and company, listens, and give clear answers that show they have done their research.

wooden chess board

It’s also an opportunity to determine whether the candidate can bring any truly unique skills to the table and whether he or she has leadership potential.

Question 2: What are your biggest challenges when working remotely and how do you overcome them?

Shows: Self-Awareness

If your candidate beats around the bush when you ask this question, beware: he or she might not make a good remote worker.

On the other hand, if they whip out a convincing, thoughtful response, you will have strong evidence of the type of mindfulness, self-awareness, and drive for self-improvement that make a great remote team member.

Question 3: You have to manage a project involving team members who work in the office. How would get the job done on time?

Shows: Organizational Skills, Communication Skills

Communication skills are always a plus, but they’re especially important for remote workers. Working remotely means most communication is limited to messaging apps and video calls

In such a setting, you need someone who communicates clearly and understands their teammates’ needs despite the lack of supporting body language.

good organization and communication skills are essential for a remote worker

Those with poor communication skills may leave out essential information, resulting in disaster. If the candidate responds to this question by over-communicating, that could be a good sign! It means they rarely miss a detail.

Lastly, keep an eye and ear out for candidates who get to the point quickly and effectively. Pro tip: observe their communication styles across various mediums (email, chat, video).

An interviewee who masters an array of communication forms and maintains good online etiquette across all is a sure shot for a great remote employee!

Question 4: Can you describe an instance when you had to make a decision, but lacked all the information you needed to do so?

Shows: Self-Reliance, Independence

Working from home requires a great deal of independent decision-making. A remote team member can’t rely on simply taking cues from his or her officemates. 

Good remote hiring practices target candidates who work well under minimal supervision. These workers show initiative and can make creative decisions on the fly.

Inexperienced remote hiring managers must learn to spot signs that a candidate can keep up a consistent flow of communication with the team. They should also look for an ability to work independently while keeping the company’s best interests in mind at all times.

Question 5: What applications/platforms do you rely on for your day-to-day work?

Shows: Tech-Savviness, Technical Knowledge

Asking which platforms and apps the candidate uses and has experience with shows their knowledge and adaptability in a digital environment. That is important in a work-from-home setup and reduces the learning curve.

While many workers only recently began using applications such as Zoom and Slack, an experienced remote team member will already be a master of these tools and will have specific tastes and preferences with regard to them.

Stickers on a laptop indicate which apps and software does a remote worker candidate is familiar with

A well-reasoned response to this question shows you that you have a candidate on our hands who is able to integrate a variety of work/productivity applications in his or her work routine to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

In case you’re wondering, that’s a good thing!

1 Question You Should Never Ask Job Candidates When Hiring Remotely

Question: Can you work from home?

With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge, working from home is kind of a given. And if you’re hiring remotely for a full-time virtual position, this question goes without saying. In short: remote work is the new normal, and your remote hiring processes must reflect that.

dog and baby using a laptop of a remote worker

As a hiring manager, you’re likely already aware that working from home is not a new trend. But the early months of 2020 have brought remote working to a global audience. Job seekers are happy to embrace career opportunities that promote maximum health and safety on the job. And for all we know, you’re a remote worker, too!

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Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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