Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

20 Questions to ask Remote Candidates in a Round 2 Interview

You’ve made it through your first round of interviews. Now it’s time to dive a little deeper with each candidate to ensure they are the best fit for the virtual jobs in your organization.

During the second round, the questions you ask should get more specific. It’s time to narrow down the candidates who have tangible successes to share about their experience working autonomously and collaborating with remote teams.

Uncover these critical details with these 20 expert-approved, second-round interview questions when hiring for virtual jobs:

Kick it off

Do you think the shift to remote work will be permanent?

David Cusick

I always start the interview with questions that settle a candidate’s nerves. One easy way to do this is to ask ‘what do you think’ questions, rather than ‘what can you do?’ This can give you a better perspective on the employee since it opens up their thoughts in a way that’s targeted around your question.

David Cusick, Chief Strategy Officer at House Method 


Experience with Remote Work
 

What challenges have you faced working remotely?

Reuben YonatanCandidates may be attracted to the idea of working remotely but unprepared for the reality and challenges of doing so. The method of questioning applicants for remote positions has not changed since COVID-19 became an issue, because portions of our workforce have always been remote

Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO at GetVoIP 

How can video meetings be more efficient?

Ian Kelly

For me the biggest difference between hiring someone remotely and in-person is their ability to interact with the necessary technology to get their work done. Fitting into the work culture and working hard are all a given, but for an exclusively remote position it is hard to teach the necessary technological skills from afar, so it simply has to be there already. 

Ian Kelly, VP of Operations at NuLeaf Naturals

How do you plan to engage with the team in this new virtual way? 

Daniel FoleyThis is a good way to find out the skills of somebody who will need to engage with people without actually meeting them, and show how they are able to use these skills to cement themselves as part of a new team.

Daniel Foley, Director at Assertive Media


Remote Work/Life Balance

How do you separate your workday from your home life when working from home?

Eric Sachs

This question can bring up a lot of good information. I need to know that the prospective employee knows the boundaries of their job schedule and will be able to self-regulate enough to not get burnt out. I also learn from this question a bit about how this person will have their daily work time set up.

Eric Sachs, CEO at Sachs Marketing Group

How can you ensure that you aren’t working during hours or times you aren’t supposed to be working?

Michael KipnessWe want to see how a candidate can say “no” to work after hours, so they aren’t overworking. We want to ensure candidates can do their jobs, but still have the freedom to do other things throughout the workday. 

Michael Kipness, Founder at The Wizard


Cultural Fit

Loren HowardHow do you spend your free time? 

I ask this question to learn more about the candidate and how they might fit into our culture. I also like to see if they are a self-learner and how they take the knowledge or hobbies they are interested into the next level and execute on it.

Loren Howard, Founder at Prime Plus Mortgages

What does an average day look like for you?

David McHughThis is a great question to ask to get a lot of insight into how a specific person manages their day. You learn whether or not a person uses schedules, to-do lists, and time slots for planning out their day, all of which are very beneficial for success as a remote worker. At the most basic, you can learn more about how they spend their time, and what they value.

David McHugh, CEO and Founder at My Mixify 

What will your last employer say when I ask them about your performance?

Ben Worthington

Asking for the previous employer’s name, and then saying you will be calling that employer is one of the best ways to elicit honest and accurate answers. Winners will have no problem sharing, and probably have a great relationship with the ex-employer. 

Ben Worthington, Founder and Owner at IELTSPodcast


Communication & Collaboration 

Shiv GuptaHow do you plan on communicating with a remote team?

Remote employees should be comfortable using a wide range of communication platforms. Asking what communication platforms they use and why they use them will help you better understand their intent to stay connected and take responsibility for their learning. 

Shiv Gupta, CEO at Incrementors Web Solutions

What tools and methods do you use to stay organized and collaborate with others online?

Alicia WardWith this question, the actual tools aren’t as important, as we have our own internal tools and systems. What I’m looking to gauge from the respondent’s answer is whether or not they have organizational processes in place to keep themselves on track and whether those processes are sufficient. 

Alicia Ward, Marketing Manager at See Sight Tours

Liston WitherillWhat will you do to prevent and correct miscommunication?

I’m mostly looking for someone who acknowledges that there will be miscommunication, can predict the cause of it, and has some idea of how to correct it. 

Liston Witherill, Founder at Serve Don’t Sell

How would you handle/avoid miscommunication? 

Syed Irfan AjmalIt’s extremely significant to know how they would ensure that they have clear communication in the absence of in-person communication. Their answer gives you insights about their preferred communication style and how they would handle a situation if there is a misunderstanding with another team member.

Syed Irfan Ajmal, Growth Consultant at Physicians Thrive 


Problem-Solving

Colin PalfreyTell me a time you identified a problem with a process and how you solved it.

One thing I personally look for in remote candidates independence. I want to see how a candidate who operates remotely contributes to the team and makes sure they can work in the most efficient, fulfilling way possible. I also want to see that a candidate can understand when there is a problem and come up with a solution to fix it.

Colin Palfrey, CMO at Majesty Coffee 

If you encounter a client who asks you a question you don’t know, what would you do? 

Daniel CarterWhat if it needs to be answered immediately and you couldn’t reach your manager or any of your superiors and other colleagues? What would you do? We are looking for the ability of the candidates to work independently and to make sound decisions with minimal supervision.

Daniel Carter, Founder at Zippy Electrics 

Eliza NimmichWhat is your typical course of action if/when you encounter a problem?

A deliberate method of contact involves virtual cooperation-consistent proactivity, conscientious validation of knowledge, and humble openness. If an applicant is trying to demonstrate a strong compromise of individual proactivity and collective collaboration, talking about problem-solving will help selection panels decide.

Eliza Nimmich, Co-Founder and COO at Tutor The People 


Autonomy

What would you do if you’re given a task with little or no direction as to how to complete the task?

Phil StrazzullaIf you get a task with no direction, you have two choices; actively seek direction or proceed without it in whatever direction you deem best. The latter shows that I won’t have to hold their hand and tell them what to do, as well as showing confidence in their own abilities.

Phil Strazzulla, CEO & Founder at Select Software Reviews

Ablorde AshigbiTell me about the last time you had to drive a project without direction?

In remote environments, it can be trickier than normal to get the context you need directly from other teammates in a timely manner. So I’m trying to learn how they’ve dealt with ambiguity – how do they define what ‘without direction’ is for them? 

Ablorde Ashigbi, Co-Founder and CEO at 4degrees.ai

Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your regular work duties to make a customer happy. 

Thierry TremblayThis question helps uncover creativity, and if the candidates can independently go out of their way to do out-of-ordinary things. We need to hear specific examples that show out-of-the-box thinking, customer focus, and quick decision-making.

Thierry Tremblay, CEO & Founder at Kohezion 

What is the most ambitious thing you’ve ever achieved up to this point? How did the experience change you?

Ian Sells

Something that’s very important to me in remote employees is a willingness to fail fast. Remote workers need to be self-starters, so they need to know how their own brain works. I like to see that a remote worker is willing to dream big, create a plan, and execute that plan. This can tell you a lot about the person and what drives them.

Ian Sells, CEO & Founder at RebateKey 


 

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 5,000+ customers in over 100 countries.