You’ve found the right candidates for your remote team! What’s next?

If you’ve reached the point where you have already found a few people that you consider to be good candidates for the open positions in your remote team, congrats! 

This means you already decided that having a remote team is a good option for your company and maybe you have applied my strategy for efficiently finding people to hire. If you’re not yet familiar with the strategy, you can find it in the article regarding the first steps to consider when building your remote team.

So what should you do to make sure that you select the best candidates out of the few options you have for a certain role?

Here are a few things I recommend after 13 years of experience in building remote teams:

Make sure you are asking the right questions

We all know the classical interview questions that we’ve heard far too many times and that don’t always give us the best hints on who we should choose for the role.

In my experience, I came to find that some maybe more atypical questions that I use for my interviews with candidates actually help me differentiate between a good and an excellent fit.

Interviews are oftentimes predictable for candidates and time consuming for the recruitment manager, but they don’t have to be this way. Instead of making this a dreadful experience for both parties, why not tweak the list of questions to make the most out of your interaction and also determine from the beginning if there is a real opportunity for a collaboration. 

Most first calls that I schedule are set to last for 60 minutes, but I will ask the most relevant questions in the first 30 minutes, to decide whether it makes sense to move forward or not.

So what are the not so predictable questions I use? (not necessarily in this order)

Question no. 1

Have you checked our website and what do you know about our company?

The answer to this question will immediately tell you if the candidate is genuinely interested in working for your company or if they are just interested in the job title or the industry (which is something I am sure you get a lot of if you are working in a “hot” industry or market).

Question no. 2 

What caught your attention / got you interested in our company?

If the answer is something very general, it is somehow clear that they are not interested in what the company can offer from a product, culture or team perspective. For example, I get a lot of answers from candidates generically saying they want to work in the blockchain industry. Ok, then why not work for the other 50 thousand blockchain companies? 

Question no. 3

Have you worked remotely before? When and for how long?

It is definitely ok to hire people who have not worked remotely before. In fact, some may be super motivated to move from a traditional office environment to one that allows them to have a good work-life balance. 

However, if the answer is NO, make sure to follow up with questions that would help you determine if the candidate can handle the change, such as: 

  • Are you a social person, do you like working surrounded by your team? How are you planning to compensate for not seeing your team face to face?


  • Where do you plan to set up your office in order to avoid distractions and be productive?

Question no. 4

Have you worked with xyz methodology / system / process before?

This should be a very specific question related to the job responsibilities. For example, a good question for a salesperson would be if they worked with sales targets before and how were these targets set.

Interviews and generally the hiring process is not an exact science – there is a lot to be interpreted in the answers we get from candidates. However, by selecting a few critical questions to ask first you can save a lot of time for both parties.

Watch out for Red Flags in the interview process

An interview is more than just written and verbal communications and sometimes, exactly the most subtle details could give you some hints on whether you’re discussing with the right person or not.

In short, the first interaction with a candidate opens up the opportunity to collect a lot of information which is essential for making a decision.

These are a few red flags I look out for during the interview process: 

  • Time without a time zone might sound like something you shouldn’t pay much attention to, but here’s why this is a red flag: When scheduling the interviews some candidates will suggest a time without referencing a time zone – this is normally a sign that the person is not used to working in distributed teams and thinking in terms of coordinating various time zones. This is rarely something people cannot adjust to later on, but if you are hiring for a people manager role this is probably a bigger deal.
  • The candidate is late to the interview or not showing up at all – this is probably one of the worst things a candidate can do and which can send them really fast to the bottom of the list. Over the years I have heard a lot of excuses – from not remembering correctly the time of the call, to I was travelling or I had technical issues. In all cases, unless I received an email with enough  notice, those candidates haven’t made it to the shortlist because in my opinion they showed disrespect towards my time and lack of real interest towards the company. These are not the people fitting our core values.
  • Not focusing on the conversation. What does this red flag look like: During the interview the candidate is distracted as if they would be doing something else at the same time or talking too much and not to the point. Communication is critical in a remote team and so taking an extra step to find the best communicators is really important. Moreover, concise and to the point answers are not only the sign of a good listener and communicator, but they could also indicate that the person is knowledgeable about the topic.
  • Ungrateful about past opportunities. We’ve all had our fair share of not so good experiences, but be sure that candidates who badmouth their former companies, bosses and colleagues will probably do the same when they leave your company. Also, working for a bad employer and with an unpleasant team, unfortunately makes you one of them. I am a firm believer that all workplaces, projects, teams have the ability to leave a positive mark on someone who is open minded to focus on the positives and on the learning experience.

I’m not saying that encountering any of these red flags should be a total deal breaker when it comes to deciding who to hire, but they can give you a few ideas on how your collaboration with a certain candidate might work… or not.

An important extra step – the trial project

When working with highly skilled people in remote teams, my experience showed that stopping the recruitment process after the interviews is not a good idea.

Even if a person looks good on paper and presented themselves properly at the interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right technical skill and also that they will be able to get easily integrated inside the existing team.

Starting from this, we decided that at my company we will handle the recruitment tests and assignments differently. 

Until not long ago we used to organize a series of interviews with the candidate and various specialists on our team, whose role was that of assessing the technical skills of the candidate. In most cases we made good decisions after analyzing all the data, however it was obvious that it was far from being an exact science. 

Moreover, we were only able to determine, to a very limited extent, the level of skill without actually understanding the candidate’s work style, how they interact with the team while working, how they communicate, how organised they are etc.

There is for sure a difference in how a person works on an assignment during an interview and how the same person might be working in a real life situation.

So we decided to give all candidates who made it to the shortlist a paid assignment. This is a small, contained assignment which we actually could benefit from having it done and which can be completed with minimum intervention from our existing team ( to avoid dependencies). For example, from a marketing candidate we ask for a complete digital marketing strategy for a new product or building a marketing reporting dashboard for all channels. 

In some other cases we may even ask the candidate to work with our team members side by side for a few days. This works best for developers as in their case it would probably be more difficult to come up with an assignment they could work on in isolation and deliver a working item in a few days. 

What’s important is to be able to get some conclusions out of these trial projects, that can help further in deciding who is the best fit inside our remote team.

Keep people motivated right from the start

When thinking about keeping your employees motivated, you most probably think about the ones that have been in the company for quite some time and maybe have lost the spark or interest in their current activity.

Usually, companies put a lot of effort into motivating employees to stay engaged, work hard and produce good results.

And that is good – managing to have motivated employees even after working in your company for years is not easy, and for sure is important.

But one thing my experience taught me to do is to be more proactive and find what motivates people even from the interview phase. This way, you can ensure that you add to your team people who are motivated by the things your company can actually offer. 

For example, if your company offers the possibility to work remote and on a flexible schedule, look for candidates who value the same. It is probably not a great fit to hire someone who is motivated by travelling a lot for work if the job will not require them to go further than their home office. 

How can you find out what motivates people right from the start? One option would be to ask them what are the things that would get them motivated to do their work effectively on a long term. The other would be to use some tests that can automatically determine what motivates your candidates – I’ll share some of the resources I use in a following blog post.

What you need to keep in mind is that once you got your short list of candidates, your work in the recruitment process is far from being done – ask those specific questions, keep your eyes on the red flags, have a trial project and find out if what your candidate wants is what you and your company can offer.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I can assure you that taking all these steps in creating your remote team is worth your time and will bring you great results. Trust me!

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