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Hiring a Remote Worker? 7 Interview Questions to Ask

Not everyone can handle working at a distance. Here's how to sort successful telecommuters from stay-at-home slackers before you decide who to hire.

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Remote work might not sound like a sexy subject on the surface, but the topic of whether a team needs to be physically together can stir surprisingly strong passions.

37signals’ David Heinemeirer Hansson wrote a strongly worded blog post on subject last year entitled “Stop Whining and Start Hiring Remote Workers,” expressing the views of many ardent telecommuting evangelists. Meanwhile, opponents of remote work are just as vehement. Google, for example, is firmly anti-telecommuting and after the initial negativity died down, many business thinkers stuck up for Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home at Yahoo.

Despite all this back and forth, the truth is telecommuting works great for some companies and some people, but not all. So if you’ve decided remote work is a possibility for your business, how can you sort folks that will thrive at a distance from those who need the structure and routine of an office environment?

Plumbing the question at the interview stage is the obvious answer, but how do you get at someone’s capacity for telecommuting without actually having them Skype in for a few weeks?  ITWorld’s Esther Schindler has some a practical answer to that question. She recently offered seven interview questions that can help business owners assess if a potential hire is really suited for remote work. What are they?

  • Have you ever telecommuted before?
  • Tell me about your (home) work environment.
  • How comfortable are you with troubleshooting connectivity?
  • Tell me about your daily work rituals.
  • How do you prefer to communicate with colleagues?
  • Tell me about your remote project tracking experience.
  • What are your concerns about working for this team as a telecommuter?

What answers are you looking for? Check out the complete article to get Schindler’s advice on what you should be hoping to hear. She’s not the only one offering tips on vetting telecommuters, hoeever. Here on Inc.com Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs and head of a completely remote team, has stressed that while the nuts and bolts abilities Schindler’s questions are aimed at assessing are important, there’s one more quality you need to be on the look out for -- passion.

"I would find somebody who has a passion for what my company’s doing,” she said. “If they've worked at IBM all their life and then they’re switching to a small telecommuting startup, you need to be pretty sure that they understand what that transition’s going to mean. I look for fit, and for me, that does boil down a lot to passion for the company."

Have you taken a side in the war over telecommuting?

 

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jul 19, 2013

JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.
@EntryLevelRebel




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