Interview Questions For Remote Workers

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Interview Questions For Remote Workers

"Remote work" has surged over the last 5 years as companies have scrambled to keep up with workforce shortages, remain productive through global pandemics, and cut rising overhead costs due to inflation. As a result, "telecommuting" and remote work have become the fastest-growing trends in employment. For some companies, this rapid shift was a life-saver, for others, it's killed productivity- but no matter where you stand on the topic, remote workers are here to stay.

This shift has prompted an evolution in the recruitment process. Not only do you need to assess a candidate's skills and experience for a role, but you also need to assess their time management skills, focus, and ability to stay productive while working from places where they have far less supervision and many more distractions.

Crafting interview questions for remote workers is a bit of an art. Unlike traditional in-office work environments, interview questions for a remote position should prioritize self-discipline, communication skills, the ability to work autonomously, and the ability to stay connected to the team through happy hours, game nights, and other activities that increase engagement and build relationships.

Remote work also comes with unique challenges. One is distance. Remote workers can't just lean back in their office chairs and get an immediate answer from their boss. Instead, we've got Slack, email, texting, and video chats like Zoom and Teams to keep us connected. But using these tools to get answers can be a waiting game, and they don't offer the face-to-face interactions that we're used to in office environments. Understanding these challenges will help you craft better interview questions for remote staff.

So let's look at what it takes to be a great remote employee. At the heart of a good remote worker is self-motivation- which is the capacity to drive oneself forward without external prompting or management. They're driven, know their role, and do it well. Next, they must have exceptional (or at least good) time management skills. This gives them the ability to efficiently organize their day to maximize productivity while balancing work and personal life. Strong communication skills are also core to a remote worker- as remote work relies heavily on written and verbal communication to collaborate with teams and effectively complete projects.

Finally, you'll want to consider some additional factors in your interview questions for remote work. Namely the importance of adaptability and resilience. Remote work is incredibly lonely and being separated from your team means that you'll have to face certain challenges on your own. This is why interviewers for remote positions should emphasize questions that explore how candidates handle isolation, stay motivated without direct supervision, and manage potential distractions. The overarching goal of these tailored interview questions is to build a workforce that not only survives but thrives in a remote work environment.

If you'd like to see interview questions tailored for your remote positions, click here and paste your job description into the text window. In a few minutes, we'll send you a personalized interview guide for your next remote interview. You can also add these questions to Pillar's interview intelligence with just a few clicks, shortening interview prep times and helping you ace the interview.

Specialized Questions For Remote Jobs

Crafting specialized questions for remote workers is kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion. First, you'll get a picture of their fit for the role, this includes a skills and experience assessment which is standard for any interview process. Then, you'll want to dig into a candidate's adaptability and independence, and how they'll fit into a remote working culture. This means you'll probably want to use tools like personality tests. Procter & Gamble uses what they call a PEAK performance assessment to see how candidates would fit into their roles and the culture overall.

Good interview questions for remote employees could be: "How do you handle working autonomously?", "What tools and frameworks do you use to manage time?" "What's your experience with remote communication tools like Zoom and Slack?", and "How have you managed distractions while working remotely?". Asking these kinds of questions early in the hiring process will help paint a picture of the candidate's personality, work style, and ability to thrive in your remote culture.

Interview Questions for Remote Managers

There are tons of tools to keep modern teams connected and on task, but remote managers still have to play a bit of chess without knowing where all the pieces are at the moment. Interview questions to ask manager candidates in interviews could be: "How do you maintain visibility and ensure accountability among your remote team?" This question is key to their management style and will highlight their capacity to keep everyone organized and moving in the right direction.

Other great questions for remote managers could be: "How do you build relationships with a remote team to ensure they stay engaged and connected to one another?" This question is a good one - since "teams that play together, stay together." An old manager of mine used to put together bi-weekly remote happy hours and invite the entire team. The goal was to grab a drink, play Quiplash, laugh, and blow off steam with the team.

Another insightful question for a remote manager could be, "How do you handle conflict within your remote team and ensure it doesn't affect productivity or team morale?" Conflict resolution is central to a remote team as communication at a distance creates more opportunities for misunderstanding. Understanding their approach to conflict resolution can separate a thriving team from one that struggles with collaboration and communication barriers.

No matter who you're hiring, good interview questions for remote employees should accurately reflect the challenges and real-world situations that they will face. This can range from managing distractions and maintaining work-life balance to effective communication and collaboration with teammates spread across the globe.

Interviewing Remote Workers in Various Industries

Many new industries are testing a remote workforce. Technology companies have been using remote workers for years- whether for software engineering or sales, but as rising costs have shifted the workforce, new industries are joining in. However, as we've discussed in this article, remote workers require a set of skills to be productive and efficient working from home- and this creates a unique challenge for interviewers.

When interviewing remote workers in various industries, you'll need to tailor your interview questions to meet the unique demands of each role. Healthcare, domestic violence support, call centers, sales, and other fields have specific requirements that a remote worker must meet to be considered proficient. This means that job interview questions for remote workers should also be carefully crafted for the role.

Finding and hiring great employees is a challenge in any industry, but the challenges of remote work add an extra layer of complexity.

In the healthcare industry, where the stakes are exceptionally high, and patient data may be at risk if a job is done incorrectly, sample interview questions may include, “How do you maintain patient confidentiality while working from home?” or “Can you describe a time when you had to handle a sensitive patient issue remotely? What approach did you take?” These questions aim to uncover the candidate's commitment to privacy and empathy, crucial traits for anyone in healthcare.

In the field of domestic violence support, where workers provide critical help and resources to those in vulnerable situations, sample questions might include, “How would you conduct a risk assessment for a client over a virtual platform?” or “Describe a time when you had to provide emotional support remotely. How did you ensure the person felt heard and supported?” These questions are vital for identifying key traits for remote work in this field, such as empathy, patience, and the ability to create a sense of safety and trust through a screen.

In call centers, customer service, and sales, sample questions might focus on the candidate's experience with virtual communication tools, their ability to handle difficult customers or sales objections remotely, and their time management skills. For example, “What strategies do you use for maintaining productivity while working from home?” or “Can you give an example of when you had to de-escalate a customer complaint over the phone? How did you handle it?"

No matter what industry you're in, remote workers are probably going to become a core piece of your workforce, so learning to make great remote hiring decisions will be key to future success. Each and every role will have specific demands, so if you start there it's pretty easy to create interview questions that identify great team players. Remember, you're not just looking for a specific set of skills - you'll also need the personality traits for remote work, as well as technological proficiency,  self-motivation, and adaptability. By asking specific, tailored questions during the interview process, you can identify the right remote candidates for your team and set them up for success in a virtual work environment.

If you'd like to see a remote hiring system that can help you lower new employee attrition rates by over 30%, book your demo of Pillar today. We'll show you how interview intelligence powered by AI can handle everything from interview questions to candidate's skills assessments.