Selecting Remote Team: 10 Interview Questions

February 16, 2024

Picture this, you’re a remote worker and part of a team that also works from home. So far, things have been going great. But now your team is swamped with work - It’s time to hire a new member. After going through several applications, you’ve managed to shortlist the final five applicants.

The next thing is the interviews; this is the most crucial part of the hiring process. What questions should you ask? What answers should you look out for?

Here at Cloud Employee, we work with companies looking to hire professional offshore developers in the Philippines. In this article, we’ll share ten important interview questions for remote workers. First, let's first look at the challenges of working from home.

Challenges of working from home

Working from home sounds like a dream- no need to leave home at an ungodly hour so you can make it to work on time, no one stealing your lunch from the office fridge, no unnecessary office drama. And the big one – flexibility to work or take a break when you want. Despite these perks, working from home isn’t all glorious. There are enough challenges to make you think long and hard before deciding to go remote.

  • Interruptions:

Working from home spares you from the disturbances that come with working in an office. However, you will experience other forms of interruptions from your kids, spouse, friends, neighbors, and even pets.

  • Overworking:

Because there are no clearly defined start or end times, it’s easy to overwork as a remote employee. To avoid stress and maintain a proper work-life balance, you need to set reminders to take regular breaks intentionally.

  • Time management:

Working from home comes with the challenge of drawing up your schedule and sticking to it. It's harder to manage your time properly because there are so many things calling for your attention simultaneously.

  • Communication:

When you work from home, you have to develop the all-important skill of communication. It can be difficult to remember to communicate regularly with your team members.

Ten interview questions for choosing the right remote team member

Working from home can be challenging. Because of this, a remote worker has to be very particular about who they choose to join the team. The person you choose must be capable of doing the job, but not just that, he or she must be able to do the job remotely. By asking these questions, you can assess whether the candidate knows what they're getting into and whether they have what it takes to be a remote worker.

1. Why do you want to work remotely?

Everyone has different reasons for choosing to work from home. For some, it might be a health condition or geographical limitations. As an employer, you should know the particular circumstances that drive the candidate into remote work. This will help you to know if he or she can fit into your team. For instance, you may be running a remote team that has periodic face-to-face meetings. If your candidate lives in a different geographical location, it may be impossible for them to join in. You need to consider how this will affect their role in your team.

2. Do you have any experience with remote working? What does working remotely mean to you?

Asking about an applicant’s experience with remote work is very important. First of all, a lot of people have the wrong impression of remote work. They feel that it's an easier alternative to traditional office work. But anyone who has worked remotely for even a few weeks will know better. An experienced remote worker knows exactly what they are getting into and what is expected of them.

Secondly, it will help you to determine whether the applicant is a good fit for your team at the time. Switching from office work to remote work is a steep learning curve, and a first-time remote worker will need a lot of coaching and guidance to be productive. This is fine if you have the time to train people. But if you urgently need someone to get on board to help you finish a project, then a newbie may not be the right fit.

3. Are you able to work on your own? Is there any instance where you worked with little to no supervision?

One of the essential skills of a remote worker is self-management. When you work from home, there’s no manager constantly looking over your shoulder to ensure you’re doing the right thing. While there is some level of supervision, no team leader has the time or ability to micromanage every aspect of the work. As an employer, you should aim to hire someone who doesn't need constant monitoring.

Can the candidate create their schedule and to-do list and simultaneously be disciplined enough to stick to them? Can they work independently and still meet targets or deadlines? Are they able to prioritize work and apportion the right amount of time to each task?

The ideal candidate will not only answer "yes" to these questions but will also give practical examples of how they have worked independently on previous projects.

4. Can you describe a challenge you faced when working on a previous project and how you managed to solve it?

Problem-solving is an important skill for every worker. But that's step one. The ability to look back on a problem and determine why it happened in the first place takes you a step further. It gets better if you're able to come up with creative ways of handling future problems. A remote employer will benefit from hiring a team member who possesses such apt problem-solving skills.

5. How do you schedule tasks? What calendar or task-management apps are you familiar with?

An efficient remote worker is someone who is highly organized. Asking this question during an interview will give you a lot of information about how organized a person is. You can even ask them to let you have a look at their calendar. Many remote jobs require employees to schedule tasks on their calendar and then share them with the rest of the team. Apart from calendars, they use several other project management systems that remote jobs use to assign tasks and keep track of everyone’s progress. You can’t expect everyone to be a master of every single application. However, they must have experience with at least one of the popular ones like Trello, Asana, or Google Tasks.

6. If you had a problem while the rest of your team was offline, how would you solve it?

Despite the flexible working hours, there are only a few hours a day when every team member is online and accessible. The idea is that any questions to be answered or matters to be resolved should be discussed during this time. No matter how carefully you plan this, there are bound to be times when a problem arises outside of the overlapping time. Asking this question will help you to know whether a candidate can assume responsibility and troubleshoot problems independently.

7. How do you handle the lack of face-to-face contact?

This might be the biggest challenge of remote working. It’s hard to remember to keep other people in the loop when you don’t see them. Additionally, misunderstandings may arise because you can’t read a teammate’s body language or hear their tone of voice. As an employer, you want to hire someone who can use technology to maintain communication and make up for the lack of physical contact. Keep in mind that communication is crucial for remote working.

8. What approach would you take to start work on this project?

This question tests a person's fitness for your specific project. We all have different approaches and techniques for getting things done. Sometimes, an applicant may be qualified for the job but don't necessarily fit in with your team's culture and work approach. You mustn't underestimate this because a bad fit will lead to a bad working experience. And a disgruntled employee is the last thing you want to deal with as a remote worker.

9. What are your available working hours?

If you have employees from different countries, this question is crucial. You need to know when applicants are available and whether their working hours are convenient for the rest of the team. Remember that you need to allot a few hours a day when all team members are available for meetings and video calls.

10. What do you need in your physical workspace to be a productive remote worker?

Even though remote work takes away the cost of running an office, employers still have to deal with the fact that remote employees need to be equipped for work. With this question, you’re looking to see what equipment an applicant needs and whether you have the means to provide them now. It also shows you whether a potential employee is aware of the realities and logistics of remote working.

To Conclude

Hiring a remote worker may be more complex than hiring an on-site worker. Apart from qualifications, a potential employee also needs to have certain skills that are specific to remote working. With the questions above, you’ll have a good idea of how well a candidate will fit into a remote team.

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We hope you found this article useful. Here at Cloud Employee, we assist companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies. Talk to us, learn more how Cloud Employee works, or see our Developer Pricing Guide.