We all know that working from home is one of the things that allowed some companies to stay open for business during this health crisis. Businesses that had already started planning for remote work were a step ahead, but no one can afford to ignore it moving forward.
But just because the job can be done remotely, it doesn’t mean that workers moved seamlessly from the office to their living room. To build a resilient workforce, you need workers who work remotely, or can work remotely if needed.
Hiring strategies need to be updated to reflect the need for remote work skills. To have a resilient workforce, you need to figure out if a candidate is able to rise to meet the remote work need. Not every great worker will be great at working remotely. Here are some ways to find out if the candidates you are interviewing are remote ninjas.
Prior to the Interview
Before you even schedule an interview, take note of how they respond to emails. If they answer promptly and professionally, it provides insight into their ability to communicate. Review emails to see if they are able to clearly relay their message.
If it takes them days to answer, or if you have to request material from them multiple times, it may indicate that you will have communications delays if they join your team. If their messages are not clear, or if they have a less than professional tone, communication, at least by email, may not be a strong skill for them.
During the Interview
Ask each candidate to describe a time when they successfully worked remotely for an extended period. Inquire whether they have ever worked on a distributed team, how they were able to maintain workflow and communication. You could also ask them about what tools they use to work remotely. The tools used are usually not important, but this will tell you about how they approach remote work, and how prepared they are to hit the ground running.
Talk with them about times they have hit deadlines, especially working remotely. Being able to focus and be productive without an onsite manager or supervisor is key to effective remote work.
You can also chat with them about what their home office is like. Do they have a dedicated room or space where they are ‘at work’? Do they see themselves as a remote worker long term, or is it a short term plan? What hours do they prefer to work? Will they be available for meetings if they choose to work outside of business hours?
What Candidates Want to Know
The candidate is going to want to know how the company feels about remote work. How will they feel involved and connected to their project, their teammates, and their managers? Interviewers will need to convey a clear message about remote work and company culture. You need to be able to describe in detail the onboarding process for remote workers. Be specific about your policies so remote workers know exactly what they are signing on to. Share information about the communication and collaboration tools that are used on the project and how they keep people engaged in the work and with one another.
Hiring remote employees is different than hiring on-site employees, but having a workforce that can work from home competently will build resilience into your business before the next crisis hits.