6 Interview Questions to Ask Remote Candidates

As remote work grows in popularity, an increasing numbers of employers are welcoming remote employees to their team.

It makes a lot of sense: Hiring remotely opens up plenty of opportunities to reach more candidates all over the world. Plus, it's a great perk to offer employees if you want to increase employee retention.

It's no secret that hiring remote employees takes time. First, you have to publish your job listing and promote it. After that, you have to review hundreds of resumes and choose the strongest candidates. Then, once it comes time to interview, you have to make sure you're prepared to ask the most relevant, useful questions.

After all, without the opportunity to first meet a candidate in person before bringing them on full-time, you have to do your due diligence and be absolutely sure they're the right choice for your business.

So, what kinds of questions should you ask candidates during a remote interview?

In addition to specific questions directly related to the skills required for the position, there are many questions that will help you figure out whether or not a candidate will thrive in a remote work environment. Here six of them:

1. Why Did You Apply for This Job?

While this may not seem like a question related to remote work, it's actually a very important one to ask, and the answer will tell you a lot about a candidate.


Well, the last thing you want is to hire someone who applied for your job just because it would allow them to work from home, right? You want to hire employees who will be passionate about your company and mission. Being able to work remotely should be a perk, not the only reason someone chooses to work for your company.

Don't get me wrong: If a candidate mentions the remote aspect interests them, it doesn't mean they should be disqualified. I'm just saying that if the remote part is all they talk about, you may want to consider moving on to other candidates who are more passionate about your company.

2. Do You Have Experience Working Remotely?

If the person you're interviewing has worked remotely in the past (for a reasonable amount of time), there's a good chance they will succeed again. It's also an indicator that they work well independently and don't need to be in an office every day to stay motivated.

Something else to keep in mind is that prior experience working remotely may also include things like freelancing and personal, self-directed projects.

3. Tell Me About a Time When You Took Initiative at Work Without Being Asked

The most successful remote employees are the ones who aren't afraid to take initiative without being told to do so. This might mean creating or leading a project or solving a problem outside of their regular scope of work.

If the candidate can provide a solid example of how they add value at work, they will be much more likely to thrive on a remote team. It shows they're able to identify what needs to be done without much direction, which is an incredibly valuable quality in a remote employee.

4. What Would an Average Day of Remote Work Look Like to You?

This question will tell you more about how a candidate would structure their workday if they worked for your company.

Many people who have experience working independently know how – and when – they work best. This means that they often have a pretty good idea as to their most productive hours of the day (are they early risers, or do they prefer to work late?), how many breaks they need to take, and how to generally structure their workdays in the most efficient way possible.

5. How Do You Stay Organized and Prioritize Tasks?

Whether the candidate has prior remote work experience or not, their answer to this question will reveal a lot about how they process information and tackle tasks.

For example, some candidates may say they have a daily checklist of tasks. Others might use a project management tool to help them track their work. Some may just keep it all in their head.

The more you know about how they stay organized, the better. A candidate who is able to track tasks and prioritize on their own is the kind of self-starter who will excel in a remote position.

6. Say You Committed to a Project, but the Deadline Is Fast Approaching and You Won't Be Able to Finish on Time. How Do You Handle the Situation?

Nobody's perfect (we're not robots, after all), and everyone has missed a deadline at some point in their lives. But how would your candidate deal with it?

Would they stay silent until someone asked them why they haven't turned in the project? Or would they give their manager as much notice as possible, communicate about what's happening, and set a new (more realistic) deadline?

These kinds of situations occur in any workplace, but when your employees are remote, it's especially important that you're on the same page in these circumstances.

Hiring remote employees isn't easy, but doing your due diligence and asking the right questions during an interview can tell you a lot about a candidate.

Not only will asking these questions give you a better understanding of the candidate's work ethic, but they'll also help you discover whether or not they candidate is a good fit for a remote position at your company.

Hannah Wright works for HR Partner, a cloud HR software for busy teams.