How To Interview Remote Employees

Shaun Enders

The remote work trend skyrocketed during the pandemic, with more than a third of US households reporting they worked from home more frequently than pre-pandemic, based on US census data. Meanwhile, PwC’s US Remote Work Survey found that 83% of employers said the shift to remote work has been successful.

Many remote workers report that they are happier and more productive working from home. But it’s important to find the right employees to maximize your company’s success. Finding people who can be comfortable and successful in a remote work environment requires asking the right questions and showing that your company is adept at managing remote workers.

In today’s tight labor market, finding the right candidate doesn’t mean just choosing from a pool of people excited to work for you. It requires showing them what you have to offer in terms of company culture, benefits and compensation, and the overall employee experience.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Employees

In a world where hiring is growing increasingly expensive, remote interviews can be one way to reduce costs and speed up the hiring process. Hiring remotely also opens your company to a wider pool of candidates from different regions.

Additionally, many people don’t want to return to the office for various reasons post-pandemic. Offering remote work opportunities can bring in talent that has shown proficiency working remotely over the past two years and want to maintain that lifestyle.

How to Prepare for a Remote Interview

When you’re interviewing candidates in today’s labor market, it is as much about finding the right candidate as it is enticing them to want to work for you. With that in mind, preparation is important on both sides.

Make sure your video conferencing software is working seamlessly. You want to ensure there are no shadows and that you sit at a comfortable distance from your camera. To help make a candidate feel at ease, your face should not be too close to the screen.

Test the audio and lighting in advance. Natural light from the front or side is best, but a ring light near your monitor can often compensate for any shortcomings. Avoid distracting backgrounds, including virtual backgrounds. A solid backdrop works best, perhaps with a few examples of company branding, photos, artwork, or a bookshelf in the background. Avoid anything too busy.

Showing your future employees that you know how to host a successful video call can make them feel comfortable and confident that you understand what it takes to manage remote employees and help them feel connected.

Questions to Ask Remote Employees

Of course, you’ll want to cover the usual questions for employees based on your industry and their past experience, but it’s essential to dive deep to find out how they’ve handled remote work.

Ask questions that give employees an opportunity to show rather than tell. For instance, you might ask for specific examples of how they communicated with their managers and collaborated with their team using technology.

Ask for specific examples of how they’ve dealt with distractions working from home in the past and some of the greatest challenges they’ve faced as a remote employee. Give them an opportunity to share specific anecdotes.

Ask why they want to work remotely. This question can be telling. For people in remote areas, it’s obvious to seek out remote work to expand their opportunities. But if someone wants to work from home because they are looking for flex-time — when you need someone who can work specific office hours — this question could help reveal some red flags.

Don’t be afraid to ask about their home office setup. Someone with a quiet, professional space to work — and a solid internet connection — is more likely to be dedicated to doing their best as a remote employee.

Delve Into the Specifics

Finally, set clear expectations for what remote work means in your organization. Will they be expected to attend in-person meetings monthly or weekly? Do they have some flexibility in their hours, or do you want remote workers accessible at all times during business hours?

Describe the technology you use to keep your remote workforce connected so that you can gauge their comfort level with apps like Slack and Zoom. This also shows candidates that your company has a plan in place to keep remote workers connected and that, while they might be working remotely, they are not alone.

If you are struggling to find the right employee for your company, please call us at 858-404-9900. Transition Staffing Group specializes in placing Accounting/Finance and Technology professionals.