key questions to ask remote candidates

3 minute read

Interviewing candidates is as important when hiring remote freelancers and outsourcing projects as it is for filling a permanent position. 360WORK's relationship managers gather information about your project and write a compelling project description. Then, they’ll find, interview, shortlist and match vetted professionals with projects based on your requirements, location and business culture. You’ll just have the final interview with a shortlist of quality candidates and can hire with peace of mind.

Whether you are hiring for temporary or permanent requirements, the final interview is a great chance to get to know potential resources and discover if they would be a good fit for your business. However the questions you need to ask candidates for remote projects will differ from those tailored towards more traditional office-based roles, because your working environment will be different. In this article we break down 4 key questions to ask when interviewing resources for remote projects.

1. What is your ideal remote working environment?

Asking candidates about their environment is a helpful way to gain insight into the set-up they have for remote working. Many established freelancers will have home offices, or when pandemic restrictions lift, professional co-working spaces they use. Perceptive candidates will be able to identify the key requirements of a remote working space, such as stable internet connection, appropriate technology, a proper desk and privacy and quiet for online team and client meetings. 

The question will also help you to determine a candidate’s working style and learn more about their personality. Measures such as listening to music, regularly getting up to move about and going on walks at lunchtime show that a candidate is able to stay motivated, and have a healthy home/work life balance when based remotely.

2. Explain a scenario where you have had to schedule and prioritise your work remotely

Alongside concerns about isolation, working remotely can be a recipe for overstimulation. Asking candidates how they manage their work alongside the instant demands of collaborative documents, emails, messages and video calling will show you their ability to filter out the noise. A strong candidate will recognise that they must process all information as it comes in, quickly determine its priority, and address it properly at an appropriate time. They will also inform you of the successful outcome of their actions.

3. What is the biggest challenge you face working on a remote project, and how do you plan to address it?

Prioritising work isn’t the only challenge facing remote resources. Asking a candidate to identify the biggest hurdle they will have to overcome working remotely will provide you with insight into their social awareness. Strong answers often centre on communication; potential resources should recognise that adapting to new work processes and ironing out any problems takes time and a willingness to be honest and open. 

The most important part of the question is how the candidate plans to address the challenge. Do they seek to offer a solution or bring more problems? For example, they could take the initiative to suggest using a workflow tool, like the one in the 360WORK's ProToolkit, to keep everyone updated on individual progress. They could also identify the need for a weekly progress meeting, with time specifically set aside for asking questions. A strong candidate will also ask about how you as a hirer intend to maintain positive communication and leadership within a project.

4. Describe a time when you missed a deadline and what you learned from it

It is a fact of life is that people, even experts, miss deadlines. How a candidate handles and discusses this uncomfortable situation will reveal a lot about their personality and maturity.

When a candidate discusses their experience do they show accountability for their actions, or do they blame others? Do they seem confident coping with pressure, and have put measures in place to learn from their actions? Do they clearly demonstrate an awareness of effective time management and flexibility going forward?

The strongest interviewees will explain that missing a deadline enabled them to avoid a bigger disaster or improve performance in other areas of their work. They will be perceptive and comfortable taking responsibility. 

Because you are hiring for a remote position, pay particular attention to how the candidate discusses boundaries at work. You want to ensure resources are committed but that they are not willing to meet a deadline at the cost of their health. Burnout is costly and negative for hirers in the long term; it is not worth a candidate meeting one deadline at the risk of derailing the rest of the project due to ill health. A perceptive interviewee will recognise this.

To conclude

Interviewing candidates is an important part of finding the right resource for your project. When hiring for remote positions, be particularly aware of how a candidate discusses communication, work/home life balance and independence. Treat sourcing a temporary hire with the same diligence that you would a permanent member of staff, and be sure to tailor your questions to the remote demands of your business. Good luck and get in touch if you need help finding an expert.

1 year ago

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