Tips for Pre-Qualifying Remote Candidates

More people than ever are working remotely and they’re finding they like it. If you’re hiring for a remote working position, this is good news. You may have access to job candidates that are searching for a more permanent remote or at-home work position.

Screening candidates for remote positions, however, can be challenging — especially if the interview process will take place remotely as well. Here are some of the key attributes remote workers need to have to handle remote work efficiently. When you are qualifying candidates, you need to assess these skills before getting serious.

Self-Motivated

Since remote workers will spend more time working without direct supervision than those in the office, they have to be self-motivated without constant check-ins with managers. Self-motivated workers have strong organizational skills and the ability to prioritize work to meet deadlines.

Sample questions might include:

  • What do you do when your workload feels overwhelming or you felt you couldn’t meet deadlines?
  • When you have extra time on your hands, what do you do?
  • How do you stay motivated after a setback?

Skilled at Communication

Communication will be one of the most important skills — and challenges — for remote workers. They have to be able to communicate efficiently across multiple platforms and know when to ask for help.

Sample questions might include:

  • How do you explain a complex idea or problem to a colleague or customer that appears frustrated?
  • What makes a good communicator?
  • If chosen to do a presentation to our group, what do you need to know (and do)?

Tech Savvy

Remote workers need to be tech-savvy to work efficiently. While they don’t have to be IT technologists to work remotely, they do need to be able to easily navigate using remote work tools.

Workers need to be able to use computers, software, video conferencing, and collaboration tools. They may need to be their own help desk when it comes to troubleshooting basic tech issues. And, they’ll need to be aware of heightened threat activity aimed at remote workers, such as malware and ransomware.

When employees are working at home or out of the office, they may be less attuned to security risks.

Sample questions might include:

  • What do you do when your run into a computer problem? What steps do you take before calling for help?
  • When do you call for help?
  • What software or platforms do you work with routinely?

You can test candidates during a pre-interview by asking them to connect with you via an online platform or video channel and putting them to the test.

Collaborative Worker

Despite what many people think, working remotely actually requires strong collaboration skills. When you can’t sit across from someone and explain or demonstrate something, it takes a more proactive approach to communicate and collaborate.

Sample questions might include:

  • Can you give me an example of where teamwork was required to accomplish a goal and your role?
  • Describe a time you had to work closely with someone that was difficult to get along with and how you handled it?
  • Tell me about the best team you ever worked with and what made the team successful?

To work collaboratively, remote employees need to gain (and build) trust with team members.

Agility and Adaptability

Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot about the need to be agile and adapt to situations. Depending on the job, remote workers typically have to be flexible to work in a remote environment. Remote workers have to balance new tech and team members, juggle work-life balance, and solve problems independently.

Sample questions might include:

  • Describe a project that did not go the way you thought it would. What corrections did you have to make and how did it turn out?
  • Tell me about a time you had to dramatically change the way you approach a project. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time you were asked to do something outside your job description and experience. What happened?

Problem Solving

The best remote workers are incredible problem solvers. They need to be able to analyze situations quickly and come up with solutions — even if it’s something they’ve never dealt with before.

Sample questions might include:

  • You need a critical piece of information to complete a task, but the boss is not available to help. How do you proceed?
  • You’re working at home and the internet goes down, but you have a project on deadline. What do you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you solved a problem that others couldn’t figure out.

Pre-Qualifying Remote Candidates

Remote workers need all of these skills to work efficiently and productively. Before you invest too much time and effort, you need to make sure they have the requisite skills before you move them to the next phase of your interview process.

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