Five key questions to ask when interviewing for a remote position



Whether by policy or preference, remote work is here to stay! Payworks’ #HRFromAfar series leverages the insights of our in-house HR experts to help leaders, fellow HR professionals and Canadian business owners navigate the many unique facets of virtually managing a workforce.

While in-person and remote interviews are different from each other in many ways, they also have a major goal in common: to read between the lines and assess what a candidate is really telling you about themselves.

Whether it’s deducing an applicant’s time management skills from their interview punctuality to getting a sense of their capacity for teamwork from their career success stories, there’s lots to learn from all parts of the interview experience.

There are also some key questions you can ask – some directly related to remote work and others that are likely familiar from “the Before Times” – when evaluating a candidate for a remote work position! Here are a few to get you started:

1. How do you manage your time while working remotely?

The applicant should ideally respond with concrete strategies and examples of how they not only keep themselves organized and on track, but also how they mindfully disconnect so as to prevent burnout. You’re looking for proof that they can work independently and prioritize their time effectively – on and off the clock.

2. How do you deal with stress?

While this question is pretty standard – candidates will typically respond with stories of how they met and overcame work challenges in the past – it also acknowledges the unique stress every Canadian has been under since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Hopefully, the candidate will be able to share new coping skills they’ve developed, which are transferrable even when these days are behind us, and a willingness to reach out for help as needed.

3. How would you build connections in a new and virtual environment?

An applicant’s answer to this question can reveal both their interest in building relationships with their new team and their creativity in doing so under difficult (remote) circumstances. Ask yourself how this candidate’s strategies would complement the team already in place and work for the role in question!

4. How do you learn most effectively?

This is a great question no matter where your team is working! But are the candidate’s preferred methods of learning a good fit within a remote environment? And if not, is there potential and willingness to work together to identify a different solution that works for both parties?

5. What are you looking for in a new opportunity?

This one’s a classic for a reason! Beyond figuring out what career growth or transition opportunities they’re seeking, this can also be helpful in assessing what else motivates a change. Hiring is much more than checking all the requirements boxes; it’s also about finding the right complement when it comes to both work and personal values. Discovering the candidate’s purpose – what drives them to get out of bed every morning – can become a great opportunity to share your own team’s core values.

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