Questions to ask when hiring a remote employee

Find the perfect fit with these thoughtful interview questions. By Priya Prakasan

Hiring a remote employee is tricky. You need to find someone who apart from possessing the required skills, knowledge, and experience also displays good communication and conflict resolution skills, along with motivation and initiative. So how do you find the best work-from-home talent? Try these questions to determine whether a candidate will be successful at a virtual job.

Are you comfortable with social isolation?
In such a situation it is necessary to gauge how comfortable the person is with time alone. Since there will be comparatively little or no face-to-face interaction when compared to a traditional job, you need to know if the candidate has a strong social support network and has strategies in place to deal with the loneliness that might crop of. A candidate who has had prior experience with remote work knows what’s in store, the pitfalls to avoid and better understands their own needs. It’s possible that someone who has no prior virtual work experience might find this work arrangement a little overwhelming, in turn leading to unhappiness.

How do you communicate with others on the job?
Good communication is the key to teamwork and when it comes to virtual work remote employees must have good communication strategies to survive and thrive. You need to know if the candidate is a proactive communicator, and how he/she handles communication with the rest of the team in different situations. Are they are proactive in discussing problems, solutions, concerns? In a remote working scenario you can’t have an employee hesitant to get in touch.

Describe your home office.
Though it might not seem that important, one of the ways to know more about your candidate is to understand their work schedule and the kind of work environment they have. Try to get a better understanding of their home office to know if the environment is best to work uninterrupted. A candidate might not be very productive and efficient if he/she has to deal with continuous distractions while at work. A quiet place, even if it’s just a corner in the house, is essential when a person is working from home. If that isn’t working out then consider renting a co-working space.

How do you handle differences of opinion or other conflicts when working remotely?
You need to know how efficient the candidate is when it comes to handling a crisis or a problem at work. Disagreements, conflicts with the manager, leader or team members might be comparatively easier to tackle in a traditional work environment. But it’s not the same for a remote employee, who has to resolve issues without face-to-face interactions. So you need someone who can nip problems in the bud, is able to resolve conflicts tactfully and politely before they blow up into something bigger. Are they the sort to ask for help when needed? Are they comfortable handling conflict? Try to understand their personality to see how well they are a team player.

What motivates you?
Working virtually is definitely challenging, it requires a high level of motivation and initiative. So what drives your candidate? What do they want to achieve in life and how is this job getting them there? Why is this job important to them? Does it fit in with a larger career goal they have? Try to assess the degree to motivation to determine whether it’s high enough for them to do well in a work-from-home situation.

What is your biggest concern regarding remote work?
Apart from finding out what makes the candidate tick, you also need to find out about the potential pitfalls they foresee. How do they plan to address them so as to work efficiently? What are their concerns that you need to alleviate to get them on board. This could also expose their perceived shortcomings, helping you get a better idea of their personality.

Photograph: Freepik 

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