top of page

7 Questions To Ask Remote Candidates During Interviews.

Remote working isn’t all about coffee shops and pyjamas. As a remote-friendly employer, you know this.

Even with the right skills and experiences, not every candidate is cut out for the remote work life. So, below are are 7 interview questions to ask potential remote workers.

1. Have you ever worked remotely? If so, what were some of the challenges you faced?

Some candidates are attracted to the idea of working from home but don’t understand the reality of it. For example, first-time remote workers might be shocked by the transition. If the answer is, “Never,” follow up with, “Why do you want to work remotely?”

When the candidate has worked remotely, you could follow-up with “What were some of the challenges you faced when you worked remotely?'”. Someone who has worked remotely before probably has experienced some challenges and developed strategies to overcome them.

If the candidate says there were no challenges it is a sign that they have not worked remotely enough to face the challenges that come with remote work.

2. Why do you want to work remotely?

Candidates have different reasons for seeking remote work. If people want to be home to care for aging parents or children, it may affect the hours they can keep or the distractions they face. That may not be an issue, but it is something to explore during the interview.

It also gives you insight into who they are as an employee. For example, if someone talks about how they are more productive working from home they are framing their answer in a way that talks about the professional advantages of remote work. This helps demonstrate that they are a career-oriented employee.

On the other hand, if the candidate talks about how they want to work in their pyjamas or that they don’t like having a boss breathing down their neck, they’ve framed the answer in a more personal way. Answers like these indicate that a candidate is more motivated by personal gain than professional growth.

3. How do you plan on communicating with a remote team?

The thing about working remotely is that you never bump into your coworkers for a random conversation in the break room. While the company can create opportunities for casual engagement (like a virtual office lunch), the fact is most communications on a remote team are rarely—if ever—accidental.

Ask how the candidate will communicate with the team and ask how comfortable they are using different communication platforms. Do they stick only with email? If so, why? What about using virtual meeting spaces to communicate in real-time? How about chat rooms?

Remote employees should be comfortable using a wide range of communication platforms. Email is great for some types of communication, but not others. Chat rooms are great for collaborative projects, but maybe not so much for personal ones. Asking what communication platforms they use and why they use them will help you better understand how they communicate and collaborate with their team.

4. Where Do You Prefer to Work?

Keep in mind, though, that not everyone works best in a traditional office set up — some people like the couch, the backyard, or the public library. Ask about the technology they have access to and how they have access to it. If they like working from the coffee shop, do they have a way to connect to your office server privately? Or, are they relying on a public internet connection? Not having a “home office” should not disqualify someone from the job. However, understanding how and where an applicant works best helps you understand them as a potential employee.

And, if this is a first-time remote worker or a hybrid position that’s both in-office and work-at-home, the candidate may not yet have a home office setup. Ask the candidate what their office setup plans are, or if they plan on heading to a coffee shop or co-working space. For a hybrid position, ask if the candidate is going to invest in a home office, or use the kitchen table.

5. How do you stay focused on your tasks?

Distractions are a fact of life for any worker, but they’re different for remote employees than the ones people face in an office setting. That might be a noisy roommate, getting distracted by news alerts, or even living on a busy street.

Asking candidates how they stay focused on tasks now (no matter where they work), will give you some insight into how they might face distractions as a remote employee. By starting with the broad question, you’ll be able to hone in on a remote specific follow-up question.

For example, if the candidate says, “In the office, I use noise-cancelling headphones to block out noisy coworkers,” you can follow up with, “Will you face that same distraction when you work remotely? Do you think the same strategy will work, or will you need to do something different?”. Follow-up questions that focus on remote-specific distractions will help you learn more about the candidate’s work environment. And it will also help you see if the candidate has thought about (and can deal with) the unique distractions remote workers encounter.

6. What’s the most challenging project you ever designed and executed?

Working remotely requires employees to be very self-motivated. Without a manager nearby, it’s easy for people to get distracted or lose their drive. The answer will speak to the candidate’s motivation and ability to get the job done when there’s nothing else motivating them—except themselves.

7. Tell me about a risk you took and failed. What did you learn?

As the newest team member, applicants have to be flexible, open to suggestions, willing to experiment and try new things, and learn from their mistakes.

Asking for an example will give you some insight into how the candidate operates. Do they have one way and only one way of doing things? Do they learn and grow from their mistakes? Are they willing to admit they made a mistake? These answers will help you determine whether or not they are truly flexible and can mesh well with your existing team.

We're DigiBods and we build amazing technology and digital teams. If you're looking for Product & Tech talent or need help with your hiring strategy, get in touch with our team today!


bottom of page