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Resource Center / Acquisition & Retention

Hiring Remote Employees? Get These Top 5 Interview Tips

Managing remote employees has become essential in the current landscape. Check out our interview tips for finding the right candidates when hiring remote employees.

Sasha Butkovich headshot November 2017
Sasha Butkovich
May 30, 20184 minutes

Telecommuters make up a growing share of the workforce, and many companies are placing greater importance on distributing their teams. It has become essential to understand recruitment, hiring, and effective management of workers outside your office.

While technology makes interviewing and hiring remote workers easier than ever, don’t think of the process as a rinse-and-repeat of your typical in-house interview. Your interview approach should be tweaked slightly to best assess remote candidates.

Here, we explain why, and offer some tips to help you get it right.

Want to learn more about how to hire and manage remote employees effectively? Download our free guide.

The Benefits of Hiring Remote Employees

According to a 2016 survey of more than 15,000 employed Americans, 43% said they spent at least some time working remotely. That’s a 4% increase since 2012.

While the reasons may vary, telecommuting is a fact of life, especially in certain industries. In the transportation, computer, information systems and mathematics industries, well over half of employees work remotely some of the time.

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Though hiring remote employees may seem challenging, it can be very beneficial for your team. Another study found that remote workers have slightly higher levels of investment in their work, and on average perform equally to onsite employees. In addition, companies that support remote work have a 25% higher retention rate than companies that don’t.

If hiring remote employees helps your employees and your company, it really seems like a no-brainer for employers.

Related Article: Hiring Remote Employees in a New State: Know the Rules

Interviewing Remote Employees

A candidate’s talents, competency, and approach to working with others are all important things to observe while interviewing for remote jobs, as well as how they will interact with co-workers from afar.

We caught up with our very own Justworks CEO and founder, Isaac Oates, on the topic. He pointed out some key areas to focus on when interviewing for remote positions.

“In addition to gauging job-related competencies and cultural fit, it’s also critical to dig into communications style,” said Isaac. “How do they use email? How are they on the phone? Or on Skype? Or Slack?”

He added that hiring remote employees doesn’t always have to mean a remote interview. In fact, it makes the face-to-face meeting an essential part of the hiring process.

“Meeting a candidate in person prior to offer them a job is still very important,” Oates added. “Even if you’re hiring them for a remote position, it is hard to compare a remote interview to an in-person meeting, where you can easily read body language, tone-of-voice, and things you wouldn’t see otherwise.”

5 Questions to Ask Remote Candidates

Interviewing is the final stage of the screening process before this person goes from job candidate to coworker. It’s crucial to ask the right questions.

Here are our top tips on how to interview a remote candidate:

1. Discuss Previous Remote Working Experiences

Get a feel for how well they know the world of remote work, or whether they only have experience with email and telecommuting. Try asking for examples of projects they’ve completed as a remote worker.

2. Determine the Pros and Cons of Remote Work

A smart worker will be able to identify, acknowledge, and discuss both the perks and challenging aspects of a remote workplace. Dig in to learn their strategies for overcoming potential challenges in order to be effective in the role.

3. Identify How the Candidate Would Stay Involved

Likewise, a good remote worker will know the natural barriers that come with telecommuting. What is their plan to stay involved? Are they comfortable using the tools and technologies your company utilizes to stay in touch?

4. Spend Extra Time on Communication

For remote workers, great communication skills are key. Ask plenty of questions around their communication style, going beyond their Slack and email skills. For example, how do they manage conflicts with managers or colleagues?

5. Assess Their Time Management Abilities

Remote workers have to hit deadlines like anyone else. It can be worthwhile to ask some questions relating to time management. Learn how they manage their schedule, and about their troubleshooting and problem-solving skills. You might ask them to give an example of a time they managed a project on a tight deadline.

These strategies should get you on the right track to determining whether the remote worker will be a good fit for the role and for your company.

Of course, once you make the hire, the next phase begins. You’ll want to make sure you’re considering how to best manage your remote workers — and stay compliant in the process. For guidance, download our free ebook.