Hiring a candidate for a remote role is more than deciding if they have the right skills to perform the duties of the job. You must also predict whether a candidate can successfully perform those duties independently in a virtual work environment.
That’s where a targeted set of interview questions for remote workers can come in handy.
We reached out to our team of experienced recruiters and developed a list of the most useful questions to ask when hiring for a remote position.
The suggestions they’ve shared can help you:
- Understand a candidate’s perspective on remote work
- Set expectations around your remote policies and schedule up front
- Identify potential barriers to success
- Check for collaboration style compatibility
Get ready for your next candidate interview with these 20 questions to ask when hiring for remote positions.
Perspective on working from home
1. What makes you interested in working a remote job?
This will help determine why a candidate wants to work remotely and if they would be a good fit.
2. Have you previously worked in a remote position and been successful?
Prior to the pandemic, few candidates had worked in a remote capacity. Understanding if the candidate has enjoyed working independently, while interacting mostly virtually, in the past will help you determine whether the candidate will thrive in a remote role at your organization, too.
3. If you’ve worked remotely, what did you like and dislike?
Likes and dislikes can show you how you might need to support this candidate as a remote employee. They can also help you predict how this individual may react in certain situations.
4. If you’ve worked remotely, how were you able to transition from an office environment to a work-from-home environment?
This question can also bring out likes and dislikes, and help you get information about their workspace and environment at home.
5. What types of flexible remote options are you looking for? Hybrid or fully remote?
You may prefer candidates who are willing to come into the office part of the time each week. Or you may prefer candidates who want to work offsite all the time to save on office expenses. This question can show you a candidate’s level of location flexibility and help you determine whether it fits with your business priorities.
6. What motivates you?
If a candidate is interviewing for a remote role that doesn’t provide much team interaction, and the candidate says that team interaction is important to them and keeps them motivated, then that particular position might not be the best fit for them.
7. What does working fully remote mean to you?
This helps you gain understanding about the candidate’s mindset. For example, do they think they can work from any time zone or from any location, like while sitting on the beach?
Accessibility and logistics
8. What technology are you familiar with while working remote?
This helps determine the candidate’s familiarity with the remote collaboration tools your organization utilizes, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
9. Are you willing to travel to service clients or attend onsite meetings?
Follow-up: If so, what percentage of the time are you available to travel?
Working away from an office doesn’t always equal working from home 100% of the time. If your remote role requires customer visits or onsite meetings and events, be sure to set those expectations with your candidates during the interview.
Robert Cornejo, Christina Miller
10. Do you have access to a non-distracting workspace with high-speed internet service in order to successfully conduct the duties of this position?
The nature of an employee’s environment can determine their ability to conduct business remotely in an effective manner. If they have spotty Wi-Fi and can’t access alternative options such as fiber-optic internet, or they don’t have a quiet, dedicated workspace, this can affect their ability to work well remotely.
Asking about the candidate’s workspace can also open the door to setting expectations around what the job will require. If the candidate would need to be on video or phone calls frequently, environmental distractions such as pets, children and roommates would pose a greater problem. As employers, we are unable to ask digging questions into personal matters, such as child care accommodations, so asking a question to cover those concerns is a good idea. Then, you can follow up after with the expectations for the position.
11. Do you have the equipment needed to work remotely?
If you don’t provide or offer an allowance to your employees for necessary work equipment (e.g., laptop, printer or office supplies), this is an important question.
12. Are you comfortable with remote training and learning using virtual guides?
If your training process requires candidates to quickly ramp up using partially remote trainings and self-paced learning, ask this question. If you don’t offer in-person training or on-the-job shadowing, sharing this information in the interview helps avoid unmet expectations later.
13. Are you comfortable with being in the office for training for the first X months?
Is it your policy to require onsite training prior to an employee going remote? Ask this question to help set clear expectations about this requirement early on in your hiring process.
Professionalism and productivity
14. Tell me what you would do to eliminate distractions during remote meetings?
This is important because the employee’s remote workspace won’t always be as controlled of an environment as an office space where there are cubicles to shield surrounding noise. So what would the candidate do in their remote environment to minimize distractions (such as kids or dogs)?
15. Provide me with an example of how you stay focused on your tasks working in a remote setting.
Even in the ideal home office, you can’t eliminate every possible distraction. Ask this question to get an idea of how a candidate handles interruptions as a remote employee.
16. Should you be placed in this opportunity, how will you project professionalism and present yourself as a good example of our mission and culture during interactions with both internal and external stakeholders?
Follow-up: What will be on your mind? How will that be present in your communication during these interactions?
This question gives insight into whether the candidate has already thought through these things. It also lays the groundwork in the candidate’s mind about the importance of intentionally representing the organization to everyone.
17. What do you do to keep yourself from getting burned out?
Answers might include meditation, walking during breaks, actually stepping away from the computer or having a mid-morning cup of coffee. This question helps you get at the mental health aspects of working from home, where people have limited to no social interaction. This can strain a person’s mental health and motivation if they don’t have a plan to avoid feeling isolated.
18. Are you comfortable with working in our time zone?
Even if you’re open to hiring candidates in all states, if it’s your policy to require employees to mirror business hours at your headquarters, you’ll want to confirm this during the interview.
19. What do you believe is a reasonable timeline for responding to an inquiry from your manager – two hours, four hours, one business day?
This tells you how responsive they will be if you need immediate information from them in a remote environment, and it also helps you to set expectations up front.
20. Is there anything that we need to know about in advance that could affect your ability to work the preferred schedule?
This is the time where a candidate can disclose something that they forgot to consider or mention.
It could be something as simple as:
- Chiropractor visits twice a week
- Needing to adjust work hours
- An upcoming vacation or surgery
- Needing time to acquire certain items for their workspace
- Needing to line up reliable transportation for onsite meetings
Working out these situations in advance helps get a new remote employee and manager off to a smoother start.
Better interviews, better remote workforce
Which of these interview questions for remote workers are you most likely to try?
When you invest more time into preparing for interviews, and tailor your questions to each role, you’re rewarded with a better staff and a stronger chance that you’ll meet your organizational goals.
Pouring into your people helps your business thrive. Get more ideas when you download a copy of our free guide: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.