7 Common Mistakes When Interviewing Remote Employees and How to Avoid Them

remote employee interview mistakes

Having a solid recruitment process, trusting your instincts, evaluating for culture fit are all aspects that we need to consider when hiring remotely. However, from my experience managing remote teams for more than 25 years, I’ve realized that most remote employee interview mistakes come from underestimating the fact that hiring a remote employee isn’t the same as hiring an onsite employee. 

Remote employees require a different skill set that not everyone has. If you think a good employee is a good remote employee, there’s your first mistake. Just think about it; not everyone can work independently 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Some people need to interact with coworkers during their entire work shift; others need constant management because otherwise, they won’t do the job. 

If you’ve already had a bad experience hiring what you thought was a diamond in the rough to discover it was just a rock, you’re not alone. CareerBuilder revealed that 74% of employers had hired the wrong person for a position. Even the most successful companies have had their share of bad hires. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to continue having these terrible experiences. Here are the 7 mistakes to avoid when interviewing remote employees:  

Avoid These Mistakes When Interviewing Global Remote Employees

1. Not Having a Remote Interview Process

Rule number one: forget everything you know about interviews. The most common remote employee interview mistake I’ve seen is that employers, hiring managers, HR teams, however you want to call it, think that the remote interview should replicate the onsite process. And the problem with this is that you don’t fully grasp the skills and key elements remote employees need to have.

Take time to evaluate your current process and see how you can adapt it for remote candidates. This advice is especially for those who have never hired remote employees. 

In an onsite setting, hiring consisted of interviewing candidates in the office and making different evaluations. It was easier to make the idea of a candidate based on their body language and their expressions. In a remote environment, evaluating such things is more complex, but it’s not impossible. You need to keep a close eye on how candidates communicate and whether they will be the right fit for the role and the company. Here’s how you can improve your hiring process: 

  • Design an interview process that works exclusively for remote candidates. Make sure it has different rounds of interviews, including group interviews. 
  • Decide how you will evaluate the candidate’s skills (I’ll talk about this point later)
  • Make sure you have the necessary tools and technology for the interviews.

 2. Not Having the Right Tools 

A few years ago, when I started getting strongly involved in this remote work world, I remember that phone interviews were common. Now, with all the new tools and technologies, it would be a huge mistake to think that a phone call is good enough for evaluating remote candidates, right? 

The same thing goes for Zoom calls without the camera! They are the same thing as phone calls. You hear the voice of the candidates, but you don’t get to establish a deeper connection or see their facial expressions.

Don’t underestimate the need to evaluate facial expressions, body language, and the visual feedback that offers a glimpse into who this person is. It should be an essential part of your decision-making process.

Additionally, before interviewing remote employees, make sure you have all the right tools to actually manage them once you start hiring them. This means project management tools, communication tools, HR tools, etc. 

3. Having No Idea Who You’re Interviewing 

Has it ever happened to you that you completely forgot you had an interview, and 10 minutes before the video call, you start looking at the candidate’s CV? Believe me; this happens more often than it should.

It’s funny to read articles directed to candidates about how to prepare for a remote interview.. Having a job interview is basically the same as studying for a final exam. But what about interviewers?

Just think about this. What’s the worst thing that can happen to a candidate? Not getting the job, right? But what’s the worst thing that can happen to an employer? Hiring the wrong candidate and losing a lot of money.

When you schedule an interview, make sure you have time to study who you’ll be interviewing. Remote employee interview mistakes often happen when you are not sure what to look for in candidates. Therefore, analyze the candidate’s CV, their LinkedIn profile, learn more about their professional path , etc. This will help you craft a questionnaire exclusively for the candidate based on what you’re interested in learning about them. 

4. Judging Too Quickly 

It’s easy to think the best candidate is the one with the best CV. When preparing for the interview or even during the interview, be mindful not to have any preconceived ideas based on the candidate’s CV. Everyone has a story, and at the end of the day, hiring the right candidate isn’t necessarily about hiring the one with the best academic record or professional trajectory. It’s about hiring someone who has the skills to perform, passion, and the willingness to grow.

Unconscious bias is something that all interviews and HR teams need to learn how to get rid of. A Yale University study revealed the sad truth about the difficulties for teams to hire objectively. The study gave both male and female scientists training courses to learn how to hire objectively, and they failed. The results revealed that they still preferred to hire men over women, viewing them as more skilled and even offering them $4000 more per year in salary.

The best way to get rid of the unconscious bias is by keeping an open mind after and during the interview. In some cases, some CVs clearly don’t make the cut, but in other cases, someone might interest you, but you find something odd on the CV making you unsure. Instead of rejecting it because they didn’t work for a year (for example), give them the opportunity by interviewing them. You might be shocked by their answers. 

5. Evaluating the Same Skills Between Remote and Onsite Employees

The best way to hire the right remote candidate is by changing the narrative you have about remote employees. As mentioned above, hiring a remote employee is not the same as hiring an onsite employee. They need a different skill set.

When working at an office, employees know they must arrive at 9 am and leave at 5 pm. They also know that you tend to go through casual walks around the office with the intention to see what exactly they are doing. As they don’t have this pressure, remote workers need to learn how to be disciplined on their own to deliver results. Additionally, some of them can’t work in isolated environments because they become depressed!

These are some of the skills that most remote workers need to have to succeed in any role:

  • Good communication skills
  • Autonomy
  • Time management
  • Collaboration skills
  • Adaptability to changing environments
  • Empathy
  • Self-motivation  

6. Asking the Wrong Questions 

Another of the most common remote employee interview mistakes is asking the wrong questions. When you’re hiring for any role, whether in the IT industry, marketing, sales, or any other type of profession, there are certain skills you need to assess. It’s easy to write down a questionnaire, create different types of tests, and assess candidates’ technical knowledge. The hard part is evaluating the soft skills, also known as personality traits.

Many new remote hires don’t work out because they can’t adapt to the company culture. They feel overwhelmed and can’t collaborate with the team, turning the hiring experience into a nightmare.

To avoid this, you could have different interviews evaluating specific things. In one, you could focus more on the technical part, in another interview you could evaluate how candidates interact with other group members, and lastly assess the culture fit aspect. Evaluating for culture fit is mostly about figuring out if that candidate is someone you’ll be happy to see and work with daily. If your answer is ‘no,’ then the best thing to do is to keep looking. 

7. Not Giving a Follow Up

One thing that I’ve learned in these 10 years managing foreign workers and doing endless interviews is the fact that interviews are equally important for both candidates and managers. A candidate is looking for a job, and a manager is looking for someone capable to assume a role.

Additionally, how you express yourself during interviews, how you treat candidates, how you conduct interviews represents your company. If you treat people badly, are not there on time, look distracted, this speaks very poorly of your company. Not giving follow-ups also speaks poorly of your company.

Make sure you are clear with the candidate what the next steps of the hiring process will be. And if their candidate is not what you are looking for, the least you could do is send them an email thanking them for their time and continue with your search. 

Interview and Hire Global Remote Employees Successfully

Hiring remote employees has become an optimate solution for most businesses looking to increase their talent pool. However, this solution can become an obstacle when companies are unsure how to evaluate and interview potential remote employees effectively. 

By avoiding these mistakes, it will be easier for you to find and hire the candidate that will best suit your needs and requirements. But if the hiring process is still too much, you can always rely on the expertise of remote recruitment agencies like us. 

At DistantJob, we concentrate on identifying and introducing international IT professionals to companies across the U.S. and Canada. By employing former IT professionals and training them to recruit in this space, they are better equipped to vet all potential candidates. This saves companies time and money when searching the globe for a new team member.

Contact us to learn more about our unique global recruiting process and the advantages of hiring international remote employees.


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Maria Rainelli

Maria Rainelli

Maria Rainelli is a freelance writer who works with DistantJob to research and synthesise the best remote work related content into practical, accurate and actionable guides and articles on how to improve remote leadership and better manage your teams.