In just a matter of weeks, the workforce model has experienced an unprecedented paradigm shift. Companies everywhere are managing almost entirely remote workforces, some for the first time. Hiring managers are now adding both full-time members and freelancers to teams from a distance, distributed wherever the talent is found. Here are four critical areas to assess when interviewing candidates to estimate their potential as successful remote employees:
Self-starters thrive as remote workers. These individuals are inherently motivated and able to work independently. They can be trusted to self manage and stay on task, and are self-sufficient problem-solvers – practiced and proud to figure things out on their own. When interviewing a candidate, consider asking the following:
- What techniques do you use to stay focused throughout the day and during the duration of a project?
- Describe your remote work environment. What distractions or challenges do you anticipate, and give me an example of how you might deal with them?
- Tell me about a time when you recognized there was a better way to do something, and how you implemented the improvement.
- How do you maintain self-motivation, especially when you are working on something that seems boring or unimportant?
- Describe a situation when you’d seek out your manager’s help.
Candidates who will be most successful working remotely have an innate sense of when and how to communicate. These workers bring particularly strong written communication skills as well. They can demonstrate an ability to collaborate with a far-flung team, and have a solid grasp of the available tools and technology to make that happen. As a manager of a remote workforce, building a team of strong communicators will make it much easier for you to keep business moving. Questions to ask when evaluating communication strengths include:
- How would you recommend that we should communicate as a manager/employee and as colleagues?
- How would you handle day-to-day information versus matters of urgency?
- How will you deal with team members who are in a different time zone than you?
- Would you please share an email that you feel demonstrates your well-developed communication skills?
- Rate yourself as a communicator – give me a few examples that justify your self-assessment.
- Which technology or applications would you use to keep communication open and current?
Learning Agility & Technical Adaptability
Candidates who are quick studies and early adopters of technology are more likely to be productive working from home. It’s essential to gauge how digital tool-forward they are. How at ease are they with relying on technology to get things done, stay efficient, and improve themselves professionally? Questions to ask might include:
- How comfortable are you with managing the technology you need to work remotely?
- Tell me about a time you needed to troubleshoot a technical issue yourself.
- What’s a new software program you needed to learn to use recently – how did you go about that?
- Which online tools do you regularly use to do your work?
- How do you keep your technical skills sharp?
Effective remote working requires a hyperawareness of time and project management. It’s important to understand how skilled the candidate is at allocating their availability, organizing their workload, and prioritizing tasks – all to deliver projects against expectations. Efficient multitaskers are skilled at determining the difference between mundane and urgent tasks, and the impact that their focus has on achieving deadlines. Interview prompts to consider are:
- Tell me your process for prioritizing your workload. How do you handle the stress of juggling competing priorities?
- What productivity tools do you use?
- How do you handle routine housekeeping duties versus project-specific tasks throughout the day?
- Grade yourself as an organized project manager – give me an example that justifies this evaluation.
- Have you ever missed a deadline (describe why that happened and how you managed it)?
- Tell me how you might delegate aspects of a project to a remote teammate, and how you’d keep the project on track.
By steering the conversation to remote-specific soft skills areas using relevant probing questions, hiring managers will increase their likelihood of adding talent with the highest work-from-home potential. For insights on how to successfully onboard remote employees click here.