6 Interview Questions to Ask Every Remote Work Job Candidate (Covid Edition)


A significant chunk of most job interviews involves an exchange of some of the most common interview questions, plus a few of the most commonly-asked behavioral interview questions sprinkled in for good measure. 

(In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s a handy guide to asking and evaluating a job candidate’s answers to behavioral interview questions.)

Selecting the right person for the job is obviously the goal, but how the job gets done has definitely changed, whether in part or in full. To hire employees who can effectively navigate remote work, teleconferencing, collaboration tools, etc., I asked my LinkedIn connections for questions you should consider adding to your interviews. 

Here are some of the best:

“How do you structure your work schedule? How do you stay focused? When remote, what is the one thing you struggle with?”

Knowing how candidates works — and how they work best — matters, whether remote or on-site. So does understanding how they overcome the challenges of remote work.

In addition, Kiera makes a video interview — not just a phone interview — a requirement. That way she can see how they present themselves, and how structured their office space is.

While an unstructured space isn’t always a problem… generally speaking, people who have worked to at least control their space in the way that works best for them do tend to perform better.

While not a perfect guide, it is at least an indication.

“How do you keep your team engaged and connected — and drive team collaboration — under remote work conditions?” 

Obviously a question for leadership positions, but one that can be applied to any remote position. What steps has the candidate taken to stay connected with other employees? In what ways has the candidate taken informal leadership steps to help other people be as engaged and collaborative as possible?

Great remote workers perform well with limited supervision. And they serve as great team players without being explicitly asked to step up and step in.

“Give me an example of a time you had to work collaboratively to deliver on a deadline as part of a distributed project team.”

I love behavioral interview questions. Even though past actions do not guarantee future actions, they are a better indication than the answers to opinion-based questions. 

Plus, this question gives you the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. What exactly did you do? How did that work? How did you respond? What did you learn? What would you do differently? 

Pay attention, and the possibilities for follow-up questions are nearly endless.

“What are 5 things you always have in your workspace, and why?”

Sure, you can ask about familiarity with online collaboration tools: Zoom, Slack, Teams, etc. But most people have a working knowledge of the most common communication platforms.

Guneev’s question goes a little deeper and could provide insight into the candidate’s underlying strategy and perspective on remove work. Cameras. Microphones. Devices. Ergonomic aids (anyone who doesn’t think a comfortable, ergonomically supportive chair makes a difference hasn’t spent much time working remotely.)

“Tell me about a time you were tasked with solving a complex problem with little direction from your supervisor. How did you go about solving the problem?”

A great question for any position, remote or otherwise. Organizations are flatter. Communication is more dispersed. Getting direction, getting help from other employees… theoretically, remote tools make the process easier since virtual office doors can’t be closed, but in practice getting the guidance and input you need can be harder.

And then there’s this: Many people don’t like to ask for help, because doing so makes them feel inadequate. (Even though asking for help is actually a sign of strength, not weakness.)

As Ian says, “It is important to know if someone will reach out to ask questions or do research when they don’t know how to tackle a problem. This matters in the office, but is more critical when working outside of the office.”

How do prospective candidates solve problems without direction? And just as importantly, how will you need to adapt your leadership style to the candidate who gets the job?

“When you bring work home with you, it is more difficult to define a stopping point: How do you plan to establish work-life balance?”

Granted, this one could sound like the “What is your biggest weakness?” question. Some candidates will simply say, “No problem? I don’t stop until everything gets done.” Or, “Work-life balance has never been an issue. I love to work.”

And maybe those answers are true. But probably not.

Nor do you want those answers to be true, if only for selfish reasons: If having healthy, happy, and fulfilled employees isn’t enough, a solid work-life balance leads to decreased stress, higher engagement, and greater productivity.

Great employees implicitly know that. So do great leaders — which is why they do their best to create an environment that helps make it possible for all of their employees.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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