March 17, 2021
Interview questions need tweaking during remote work. These questions focus on soft skills like communication that help new hires thrive during remote work
‘Fail to prepare or prepare to fail’. The interview process is your chance to find the best talent – and interview questions are all important. Employers who plan questions in advance bring out the best in each candidate.
This has never been more true than during remote interviews. Interviews have always been nail-biting experiences, but a video call interview is a whole other ball game. Whether it’s the terror that internet connection will fail mid-sentence or the difficulty reading non-verbal cues, the experience can be a gruelling. The best employers and hiring managers are tweaking their recruitment strategy.
On top of this - the majority of workers reported looking for a new job in 2020. The pool of talent is nearly bottomless. As applications pile up, it can become harder and harder to look at interviewees’ skills and competencies on an individual basis. To prevent star performers from falling through the net, you should check their reference letters.
By asking the right questions, you’ll gain more insight into candidates’ expectations and motivations. These are tailored to remote work to help you assess a potential new hire’s suitability for the remote environment. You’ll also communicate with them in a more reassuring way, so that each candidate feels they have an opportunity to make their case.
Below, we’ll explore how you can review the soft skills needed for remote work – from communication to reliability. We’ll also look at asking about relevant experience and their motivations for applying for the role.
Benefits of preparing interview questions in advance
Cover a wide range of topics
Consider how to assess soft skills for remote work
Phrase questions clearly and concisely
More productive meeting
Prepare Behavioral Interview questions
Clarifies candidate's expectations for career development
These questions help you to gauge how the candidate’s experience matches remote work environments:
Prioritizing is about knowing what comes first. It’s about doing some tasks less perfectly than others – so that you can shine at the tasks that count. If we don’t prioritize – we end up feeling overwhelmed, especially in a fast-paced workplace.
Great candidates identify the most pressing matters and address them first. They acknowledge that smaller tasks may need to be put on hold. A balanced response to this question suggests that a candidate is less likely to fall into the perfectionism trap.
Remote workers are often their own cheerleaders. Remote managers can’t peep in on their work each hour anymore.
Behavioral interview questions like this encourage interviewees to offer concrete examples. They might talk about a time they stuck to their own deadlines or pushed towards personal goals.
We all know how crucial routine is when working from home. Does the candidate block out their time into chunks? Do they take 10 minute breaks to stay motivated?
Many of us live hundreds of miles away from our manager. We have co-workers in different time zones – not to mention choppy internet causing distance between teams. All of this makes communication during remote work a daily challenge. A really important soft skill to gauge is communication, and these questions will get you started.
This question invites the interviewee to offer a concrete example of a time they prioritized clear, open communication. Don’t write off non-work related examples – ask yourself, has the interviewee shown empathy to others? Has the candidate shown initiative to clarify information concisely, and has the candidate listened actively to others to address communication failures?
For those who haven’t worked remotely before, some communication methods may come as a surprise. This shouldn’t aim to trip interviewees up. For example, if an interviewee says they would communicate by email, but your team uses instant messaging or video call, ask them, ‘How would you find communicating in a more interactive way?’.
This will tell you if they’re flexible about modes of communication.
Miscommunications happen during remote work. Sometimes we misread the tone of a colleague’s message. Or a team mate confuses the schedule for an important meeting.
These little mistakes are bound to arise – but we still need to work as a team! A team player interview candidate responds calmly. They might drop a polite message to a co-worker, or organize a friendly call to clarify the situation.
It’s the paradox of remote work – you need stellar teamwork skills and must enjoy working independently.
However, some employees feel burnt out working in a team constantly. And others can’t stand the alone-time of remote work. Neither of these is necessarily a problem – but consider the needs of this specific role.
In the strongest teams, each team member brings unique skills to the table. Great leaders bring out the talents of their teams, and provide direction. Organizers keep the team on track. Think about what you team is missing and what team player type would be a good fit.
Is the employee a cultural fit? These questions could help you find out whether an employee matches your company’s values.
We are all motivated in different ways. Some find a more authoritative approach benefits them – and if your company thrives on a collaborative management style, perhaps this isn’t the team for them.
Excellent company cultures emphasize a wider purpose to their daily tasks. Maybe it’s serving your community, or improving a service to make life easier. Learning what makes a candidate tick helps you foresee whether the role will fully engage them.
Being a ‘cultural fit’ doesn’t mean being a follower. The best employees challenge outdated cultural norms. They provide new ways of approaching problems. Candidates who can provide an honest critique of a company strategy are telling you: ‘I can do things differently, I have actionable ideas to contribute’.
Candidates who can provide an honest critique of a company strategy are telling you: ‘I can do things differently, I have actionable ideas to contribute’
Make it clear to the candidate that burnout is not a virtue_ – during remote work, creating boundaries and knowing when to switch off from work has never been more important.
Great responses will be honest about this – but also highlight more sustainable ways to stay motivated.
Make sure this doesn’t come across as accusatory or overly personal – ask for specific strategies for the remote workplace.
Every candidate is on their own path. Asking them about what they are looking for in the future is a great way to understand your interviewee’s expectations of career development.
The age old question. But this tells you how your company aligns with the candidate’s longer term plans. Even during the uncertainty of the pandemic, employee turnover continues to be a concern.
Job interview questions like this can help you to see if a potential hire is likely to stick around.
The ‘why’ here is really – what gives you purpose? What excites you about this field? Engaged employees are those who are committed to their jobs beyond the pay cheque. If the new hire is motivated by something bigger – they are more likely to overcome the challenges of remote work.
With these interview questions, you will get a multi-faceted perspective on each candidate – even over video call.
Now you’ve chosen your new hires – you’ll need to onboard them. Why not read our blog post about Remote Employee Onboarding?
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