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In a WFAnywhere World, What Questions Should You Ask for a Remote Job?

In a WFAnywhere World, What Questions Should You Ask for a Remote Job?

From a few freelancers typing away in coffee shops, we became one nation under Zoom almost overnight. But as companies begin to assess their return to office plans, both employers and some employees have seen the advantages of permanent remote work. Just as some roles saw an increase in demand, some workers now prefer these remote jobs and actively seek them out.

But with all these roles to fill, how do you best interview for this new reality? What questions should you ask for a remote job, versus the typical ones for onsite? 

Is it really worth changing your interview template, though? Yes, because the right talent is out there. In our 2020 survey, Decoding Global Talent, 49% of Filipino workers said they want to keep working remotely even after the pandemic. Compare this to pre-pandemic, when 58% of Filipino employees preferred to work onsite.. 

As a hirer, you’ll find objective qualifications in the resume. An interview is more subjective. It’s your chance to check their soft skills, and assess how they’ll fit in with the existing team. 

Whatever your industry, successful full-time remote workers share certain key habits and work styles. You want self-starters, time managers, proactive communicators. Even in global companies, the onsite environment has tended to be personalistic, highly social, and very much face to face. It rewards extroverts, and there will always be a place for them. But now introverts are finding that remote work suits their strengths, and many are not giving it up..

New kinds of jobs demand new kinds of questions -- some companies even have a different process -- to find team members who want remote roles and are ready to thrive in them. We need new questions so that we, as hirers, can give candidates what they value -- for quality of hires, not quantity of interviews.

Here is Jobstreet's set of sample interview questions for remote jobs. Add them to your toolbox to spot candidates who are resourceful, roll with the punches and can be the yin to teammates' yang. After all, a good hire is worth every minute spent to find and onboard them.

Big picture interview questions

  • Walk me through your typical work day. What's your ideal home office set up?

  • How important is remote work to you? Is it your main reason for your interest in this position?

  • What benefits of remote work do you value most, and why? (Follow up question: What do you do with the time you save now?) 

Ask these to learn how candidates organize their work, drive their day, and manage competing priorities. Are they early birds or night owls? What's their WFH productivity system? 

Conduct a video interview to see your candidate’s home office setup (and how familiar they are with tools like Zoom or Google Meet). If they've upgraded with a second monitor, office chairs or desks, and videocon tools, that tells you two things: they invest in their productivity seriously, and are less likely to drop you for a traditional onsite job. 

There's a deeper reason to ask these questions. You’ll also sense how committed they are to remote work, how it fits into their life and their key motivation to choose it. Is it control of their time, a way to earn a higher salary while living in a lower cost area, or the chance to spend time with their children? Use the answer to see if the role you’re filling can meet those expectations, to avoid disappointment on both sides later.

Sample questions about remote work specifics

  • What is your remote working experience? For example, did you freelance or did you work a fixed shift?

  • Which tools/platforms do you use most often and why? How do you deal with internet problems and other disruptions?

  • Can you run a remote group meeting? What about a webinar? How do you think a remote meeting differs from face-to-face?

  • Have you ever worked with a remote team? What about teams from other time zones or cultures?

  • How comfortable are you with performance monitoring software?

  • When starting a project, are you a "tell me everything first" person, or more "just what I need to know"?

You can also start your interview with "facts and logistics" questions. These are easy for candidates to answer, and for you to build conversations on.

Match the answers to your team’s balance of skills, work style and personality. For instance, a fresh grad may lack experience, but their talent with tech could be the perfect missing piece to complete your team -- while more seasoned colleagues can mentor and guide them.

You’ll also see candidates' problem-solving skills and how they manage the WFH "surprises" that we've all encountered. If you do hire them, you can onboard them quickly and smoothly.

Questions about remote work challenges

  • What is your remote work communication style? Did you change it when you shifted from onsite? Why and how?

  • How do you resolve a conflict when you can't speak face to face?

  • How will you find your place in our existing team remotely?

Communication style is how we relate to colleagues -- whether via work chat, video calls, text, or email -- to seek information or resolve problems throughout the day. With limited body language and non-verbal cues, good remote workers communicate clearly and efficiently, respecting their colleagues’ packed schedules. Resolving conflict can be a challenge too: contrary to expectations, video calls aren't always ideal!

These questions tell you whether they’ve taken the time to analyze their situation and how to improve it. Look for answers that show thought, insight, and an effort to constantly do better.

  • What activities help you “switch off” from work?

This is a classic problem for remote workers, and successful ones have learned to deal with it. All jobs have occasional overtime or on-call shifts. But a candidate who regularly responds to requests outside work time, or who cannot keep boundaries between work and home, is not automatically a "passionate", “can-do” action hero. As such, this may actually be a case of burnout waiting to happen.

Finally, here’s a question to close.

  • Your turn. What can you ask me about the team or the role?

Look for intelligent questions that echo your discussion, without repeating it. Good questions show that your candidate thinks ahead, does their homework, and is a sharp listener. If they have no questions, then you’ve got a yes-person or someone hurrying to end the interview. Be ready to discuss your team, position, performance metrics and benefits in a way that shows you’re aware of your competition and market rates..

Lastly, we've discussed the importance of communication in remote work. Think of the interview like a live demo of that key skill -- one that goes both ways. Even with all the talent here in the Philippines, the best people always have choices. So bring your comms A game, and prove that your company knows the new workplace, and how to value and reward the best people in it.

Now that you've seen what questions you should ask for a remote job, you’re ready to tailor your interviews to the roles and teams you're recruiting for. Find more trends, resources and hiring ideas in Jobstreet’s Global Talent Survey. Of course, don't forget to keep on searching for more great candidates at Jobstreet.com.ph.

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