What should HR managers look for in remote workers’ resumes?

Choosing the best candidate for remote work based on a few simple questions to ask.
What should HR managers look for in remote workers’ resumes?
Emma Brown

For some people, remote work is a dream because of no traffic jams, freedom of movement and a balance between career and personal life. For others, this is real hard labour.

The remote work format requires certain skills, character traits and motivation.

Often, HR managers don’t know how to choose the right candidate for a remote team, what questions to ask during a job interview, or what should be paid attention to in the answers in the first place.

Where does the choice begin? With a correctly drawn application and competency model.

Life at your company

Before you start looking for a candidate, clarify all the details of teamwork: the staff, how and where they communicate, whether they work in sprints, is there any testing, how long the meetings last, who reviews the code, and so on. Everything about the life of your product team.

Why is this important? This way, you can accurately understand the needs of your team and immediately screen out unsuitable candidates.

Recruiting remote employees can be challenging. Therefore, in order to avoid difficulties, study the portrait of the candidate well and form the appropriate questions based on the following points.


Remote work requires the ability to plan your work and personal time. Find out at what time it will be more convenient for a person to work, how they optimally arrange their working day.

Be sure to ask how they prioritise tasks, so that you will understand whether this person organises their time, and whether their views agree with the company’s work culture.


The employee knows that they need to get the job done and the results of their team depends on their performance. It’s important to understand that there are no 100% responsible people.

In an interview setting (whether online or in-person), ask the candidate to tell you about a case where they worked in a team to share responsibilities, and philosophise on this topic with them.


In most cases, tasks have specific deadlines. A person must fulfill their duties in accordance with the timelines they’re given in order to avoid wastage. The best way to test this competency is to ask their previous employer about their habits in terms of delivering on time.

Ability to independently understand work issues

Managers/team leads are not always available 24/7, so it’s important that a prospective remote employee can solve some things without others’ help and find information on their own. Find out about negative experiences from previous places of work and how they found solutions.

Motivation to work remotely

The motivation for work can be different for many people. Some people would prefer to avoid offices and crowds altogether, while others prefer to leave home and see other people. So, it’s really important to determine what motivates your prospective remote employee.

What questions should you ask about employee motivation?

  • “Why are you considering working for our company?”
    Perhaps the simplest, boring, but very capacious question. Here, a lot becomes immediately clear, for example, whether a person has looked at the website of your company, whether they looked into the company’s previous projects, and what interested them when they responded to your advertisement.
  • “Do you plan to combine remote work with study, other work or travel?”
    This way you’ll be able to predict possible problems, for instance their needs regarding study leave, or whether they will be out of range at certain stages due to travel or whether another job will be tiring them out in the evenings.

You must warn the team lead about all these nuances so that she weighs up the possible risks and can make the right decisions.

Remote work experience

The questions regarding remote work experience is relevant is very important, so that you can determine whether the candidate has the skills to work independently online or whether they will need some training and guidance.

No experience working remotely should never be a reason not to hire someone, as these are skills that everyone can learn.

Moreover, managing a team in an office and managing a remote team are two very different things, so it’s important to make sure your potential management hires are remote-ready.

What questions to ask managers about remote work experience?

  • “How did you build your team?”
    There is no single correct answer to this question, since each team lead works in their own way. Here, it’s important for you to match their views with your company’s preferences. Ask for successful cases from their past experiences.
  • “How do you interact with your team?”
    Did this person make sure that their team could always reach them, or did they work at certain hours? Are they ready to give feedback when needed or do they prefer that employees solve all problems by themselves? What means of communication do they use? These questions will help you understand whether a person is suitable for your particular team.
  • What can you suggest to improve remote interaction?”
    Here we kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, a person talks about their team communication experiences, and secondly, tells you more about what they’d like to change and how they prefer to work.

For a linear position, distance learning experience is a definite advantage, but not decisive. In practice, it is often easier to work remotely than in the office.

Communication with colleagues

The issue of communication in a remote team is acute, because most of the time employees sit at their computer monitors alone. You need to understand, firstly, whether a person can work in this mode.

Secondly, how will they communicate with their colleagues about work issues? Thirdly, you need to know if your management is ready to make up for the lack of office networking?

What questions to ask about team communication?

  • “Tell us about yourself and your previous job?”
    Such a trivial question can be used to test a person’s sociability. Watch how the person speaks, whether they make eye contact, whether they take the initiative in the dialogue by asking questions. Best of all, a person reveals themselves in his environment, for example, through asking a developer, “What methodology did your previous company adhere to and how do you find it?”
  • “If you cannot resolve the issue, who will you contact?”
    It’s very important to provide effective communication lines when problems arise. Everyone behaves differently in stressful situations. At the same time, the prospective employee must understand that most of the issues can be resolved without the participation of the manager, so there is no need to to seek their manager’s input in every single situation. Plus, you need to be able to ask for help from team members to work well together.

About the author

Emma Brown is the author of articles on different topics. With about 10 years of experience in the writing area, she has become an expert in content strategy, management, and technologies. As a former reporter, and being a contributor to the local newspaper where she used to work in her native town back in Arizona, Emma is a good talker and very curious by nature. She likes taking the most out of everything, each and every day trying to find out something new and to share with the world.

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