26 Jan

Say What? The best interview questions for a remote worker

Like a needle in a haystack, finding a remote worker can be pretty tricky. You’re hoping to find someone great. Someone that’s going to fill a critical role from (possibly) a great distance. A Heimdall to your Thor if you will. So why not ask the great questions? At DistantJob we have the winning formula to land yourself the digital nomad of your dreams or at least make any Asgardian proud.

Preparing to Interview a Remote Worker

In anticipation of the interview, an excellent way to get an idea of how your candidate will do with future communications is to have frequent (as appropriate) conversations via email and chat networks. You’ll begin to get a feel for their writing style, grammar, and reliability in communicating.

Furthermore, if the situation arises, it’s always nice to have a video chat before the actual interview which will demonstrate the candidate’s verbal communication skills.

Which brings us to the actual interview.

Even if you plan on having a mostly written relationship with your future employee, it’s always a good idea to have the interview over a video chat. While Skype and Google Hangouts are usually a popular choice, you might want to consider using GoToMeeting or Zoom. Not only are they more reliable in the technical sense, but you can record the video; an excellent option to keep for a reference should the need arise.

The Best Interview Questions to Ask a Remote Worker

There are a lot of good questions to ask when considering a remote worker and to make it easy; we’ve broken it down into three categories: Technical, Personal, and Expectations. It’s important to add your questions but here’s what we consider to be crucial to land a great worker.

Technical

How are you equipped to handle remote work?

In this instance, you want to make sure your candidate has the proper equipment to handle remote work. I.e., A computer, reliable Internet connection, suitable programs, adequate storage for sensitive information, (for example, remote workers who deal with patient paperwork must have a way to keep them private per HIPAA standards), a place to work…

Using Time Tracking Software

Many companies prefer workers to track their time using tracking software. It’s good to make sure the candidate is familiar or at least willing to learn how to use it.  

How do you plan on staying organized?

You don’t want to hire someone that’s going to be all over the place with their tasks even if it does seem like there’s a method to the madness. Check for competence in apps such as Google Calendar, Trello or To-Do tasks lists to name a few. Whether it’s knowing what time they need to open the Bifrost or meeting a client’s deadline, you want your remote worker prepared.

Preferred Web Applications

If your company uses web applications that you’d like the candidate to be familiar with you need to make sure to bring it to their attention. For a good idea of what software is the best for remote communication check out our post here.

Personal

What remote experience do you have?

While this could be an obvious question, it’s crucial to gauge the skill level of your potential hire. Those who have worked outside of a traditional office beforehand have a better understanding of what to expect and what you as an employer expect. CIO agrees, saying it can be a “good way to tailor the rest of the meeting” when you understand their background and skill level.

How do you deal with distractions?

Remote employees have the luxury of working from home, but it’s important to make sure they have a game plan with how to deal with distractions that come with being at home (or the local cafe, library or beach…)

How do you process information?

As the manager, you need to be aware of how your employee prefers to learn. Whether it’s visual or audio, big picture (the whole task explained all at once) or given in smaller tasks. Hard Refresh points out that “knowing how you process information – what you need to know when and in what format –  is incredibly valuable information.”

Why do you want to work remotely?

It’s always good to find out the motivation for wanting to be a remote worker. Whether it’s a desire to travel, a preference to stay at home or an inclination to work alone. It will help you get to know the candidate better and if their answer is something along the lines of they do their best work on their schedule and own terms they could be an excellent selection.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Without the camaraderie of being around coworkers and in an actual office environment, the possibility of remote workers losing their motivation is possible, so make sure your candidate has a game plan for such situations.

Ask about a project they completed on their own.

Whether it’s an example from their personal life, work or school, it will give you a feel for how they function on their own. Note that an ideal candidate will not struggle to come up with an example.

Expectation

How do you troubleshoot problems yourself

A lot of times, teams made up of remote workers don’t always work at the same time, and if your remote worker comes across a problem, it’s important to know how they would react without any assistance from anyone else. Have an idea of how you want them to respond and what you expect.

Conflict resolution

In addition to knowing how the candidate would react, it’s crucial to understand how you would resolve the conflict once management gets involved. Similarly, negative feedback will inevitably be given, and this question will help find out how the candidate will react to it.

Do you prefer to work within a structured environment or would you rather have things less regimented?

It’s important to find out whether or not the candidate will need to be micromanaged or not and how frequently you will need to be in contact with your company’s working nomad.

What would you describe miscommunication as?

Good communication is the only way remote working is successful so arguably this could be your most important question. Establishing and maintaining communication is the key to a good worker. For both remote and in-house employees. Zapier CEO Wade Foster notes that “effective communication is so key in a remote position that these little things are a sign of a person who might be a great fit.” For tips on how to excel at communicating with your remote employee(s) check out our post here.

DistantJob Can Guide You in Interviewing Remote Workers

Remote work is on the rise and investing in these digital nomads can be a great move for your company. Along with this article, check out our myth-busting post about hiring the right remote worker here for even more great info.

Likewise, DistantJob is here to help you nail the very best for your company so check us out today to get a jumpstart on your journey to the land of remote working!

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