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6 remote interviewing techniques for employers

Hiring for flexible working doesn't have to be wildly dissimilar from your normal recruitment.
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Hiring for flexible working doesn’t have to be wildly dissimilar from your normal recruitment process, however there are a few key things, such as whether their home environment is conducive to a working from home role, which should be considered in the interview process.

Interviews have always primarily been an exchange of information. Both parties are looking for signs of a good fit in terms of skills, experience, culture and personality. Nowadays, however, there are a few more considerations to take into account because of the rise in flexible working.

As an employer, flexible hiring allows you to access a broader and more diverse talent pool. But hiring the wrong people can be a costly mistake for a growing business. Therefore, you need to put in extra time and effort to vet candidates to make sure they are not only perfect for the role, but will also be able to perform at the highest level in a flexible work environment.

So, how should you be conducting interviews in the time of flexible working? Here are six pointers that’ll help you and the candidate get all the information you need.

1. Remember to still recruit the right person

First off the bat — remember that while flexible working is important, you still need to make sure your new hire is ideal in terms of experience, skills and personality! We’ve covered this topic before, so if you’d like to learn more about interviewing best practices check out our guide to interviewing for senior roles, as well as our article on how to run a first round interview.

2. Set expectations and get everyone on the same page

Some stuff — pay, full-time or part-time, overall position aims — should be made clear in the job description or initial email. 

In the interview, though, you should outline in greater detail how you expect the role to shape up and what will be expected of them. While flexible working is all about autonomy and productivity, it does sometimes require additional commitments to ensure communication lines aren’t lost. 

For example, you might want to make sure the candidate would be able to attend the daily standup — these video meetings can be central to company communication as it is the only time the entire team meets. Similarly, ensure they understand that although they will be working flexibly, hitting key targets is imperative. That is to say: make it clear what about the role is flexible and what is not!

Also, beware — working arrangements can also vary wildly depending on department, company, sector and region; there is double the number of employees with flexitime in the public sector compared to the private sector. So expect the candidate to have had a different experience of flexible working and avoid, for example, assuming they know the jargon. You might know that TOIL means ‘time off in lieu’, but these kinds of terms can be a bit confusing and alienating for those that don’t.

3. Place a greater emphasis on results…

Flexible employment is about trust, as you can’t supervise the employee on an hour by hour basis. This is a good thing — a recent Juggle whitepaper showed that the most autonomous employees are almost 50% more satisfied in their roles than the least.

But managers know better than anyone that people can vary wildly and not everyone will work better with more independence, so we recommend putting an additional emphasis on work ethic and time management in your questions. Most candidates in professional roles will be competent in these areas, so it’s just about making sure they won’t need micromanaging, which is not good for anyone. 

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with candidates that need slightly more direction and target-setting from above when working flexibly. This should not count against them, so long as they make it clear at this stage to allow the necessary processes to be put in place.

4. …and communication

When employees are working remotely, and with flexible hours, you have less face-to-face time with them, making messaging and video calling critical. During the interview, you want to gauge how comfortable the candidate is with this, clarify the importance of regular contact and ask them how they would keep communication lines open with other team members. 

Finding out what digital communication software they’re familiar with will also help you prepare for onboarding if they’re the candidate you go for. However, their experience with particular tools shouldn’t be a significant factor in your decision — these skills can be easily taught.

5. Ask how they feel about working from home 

This question is meant to ascertain the candidate’s previous experience with remote work, and to help alleviate risks with regards to:

  • Whether the candidate has worked from home before — as many have discovered in recent months, WFH is not ideal for everyone and requires a period of adjustment
  • Aligning expectations and understanding how the candidate envisions a remote or flexible role, versus how you envision it
  • Any potential red flags — if the candidate seems clearly uncomfortable discussing remote work, it’s worth asking whether they had previous negative experiences with it.

While we are in the midst of a major shift towards more remote and hybrid working models, it’s important to understand where the candidate you’re speaking to is on that journey. If it hasn’t worked for them in the past, you need to understand why and whether this role is likely to be any different.

6. Does the candidate have what they need to work remotely?

Don’t assume that just because they have applied for a flexible role that they will be fully set up for remote work. Look for red flags that they aren’t — for example, is their internet connection good enough? Does their environment look conducive to concentration? 

If you are in the position to help them out in this respect, such as by providing a desk, monitor or laptop, explain that now. And if they have children around, consider asking if there is anything you can do to make juggling work and home life easier. 

Ready to start hiring the best remote and flexible workers in the UK? Sign up for a free Juggle employer account today.

Toby Douglas-Bate

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