Eight Warning Signs That a Candidate Might Not Be Cut Out for Remote Work

Eight Warning Signs That a Candidate Might Not Be Cut Out for Remote Work 1000 466 Serena Estrella

So far, we’ve talked about prepping for a remote team. Are there tasks you need to outsource? Check. Is your mindset ready for managing remote workers? Check.

But before you can start assigning responsibilities, you need to form your remote team first. Now, this is an important first step. Sure, there are a lot of great remote workers out there, and you can take your pick from just about anywhere in the world. However, not everyone is suitable for remote work, and hiring the wrong people can sabotage your initial attempts.

There’s no real template for hiring, of course, and it’s hard to say how a remote worker will perform until they’re actually on the job. On the other hand, there are also signs that could warn you about someone’s unsuitability from the get-go. Here’s what you should look out for:

1. A need for constant and regular social interaction.

Happy business colleagues meeting at cafe smiling

Most of those who thrive in remote work are introverts. This is not a coincidence. While remote teams can be active and lively, remote workers are on their own most of the time.

So, if you’re interviewing a candidate, ask about what energizes them at work. If they say things like grabbing coffee with their colleagues or water cooler chats in the afternoon, they might struggle. In such cases, you can ask them about how they plan to address that outside a typical office environment.

2. Poor time management skills.

Businesswoman working on a laptop, overworking, under pressure

Because remote workers have to manage themselves, they need to organize their own daily schedules. More importantly, they have to be able to stick to it and get their daily tasks done.

How can you tell if someone manages their time wisely? Provided that you both agreed on a schedule and clarified the corresponding time zone, the candidate should show up to your Skype interview on time. 

Another indicator is how promptly they respond to your emails. If they’re really serious about working with you and can manage their time well, it shouldn’t take too long.

3. Lack of basic technology know-how.

Unless the job specifically requires it, you don’t need to be an IT expert to do well in remote work. You do, however, need to know the basics. This means installing your own apps, using instant messaging software, emailing, and perhaps a little troubleshooting.

If a candidate can’t even join a Skype call, they’re probably not a good fit.

4. Difficulties in communicating effectively.

There’s a reason why Remote Staff requires all applicants to send a voice recording. Whether they end up in a customer-facing job or not, the ability to communicate well is vital. If a candidate struggles to express themselves verbally or if their accent is indecipherable, it won’t be a productive arrangement.

The same goes for candidates who apply via email. If you can’t make heads or tails out of their missives, it’s time to move on to the next applicant.

5. Emotional immaturity.

Also known as low EQ. This is perhaps the hardest red flag to detect, but failing to do so can jeopardize your entire team. An emotionally immature person tends to lack empathy, blame others for their mistakes, and refuse to see other viewpoints. Hiring one would like throwing a monkey wrench into a well-oiled machine, no matter how skilled they might be.

This is where good interview questions come in. Ask about their job history, for example. Did they ever disagree with someone in the workplace? How did they deal with? Have they ever been in a tense situation with their colleagues or superiors? How did that turn out?

If you listen carefully, their answers will tell you everything you need to know.

6. Inability to look after themselves.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s harder to maintain a healthy work-life balance in remote work. The line between your personal and professional life gets even fuzzier, and it’s far too easy to overwork yourself.

Thus, you want someone who can draw and maintain their own boundaries so they don’t burn out. (And you need to respect those boundaries too, okay?) Having interests or hobbies outside of work is a good sign, as are healthy coping mechanisms.

7. A distraction-heavy workplace.

Mother in home office with son

Pay close attention to the candidate’s surroundings when you hold the video interview. Is the area cluttered? Or are their walls or desks organized? Can you hear plenty of background noise (e.g., cars honking, roosters crowing, etc.)? Or is it fairly quiet? Are they also getting constantly interrupted by a child or pet? 

People have different thresholds for distractions, but excessive levels aren’t a good sign.

8. Low levels of self-motivation.

Your remote team will need to collaborate effectively, but the individual members should still be able to independently carry out their tasks and make necessary decisions. The whole point of remote work is that you don’t need to provide a lot of hand-holding. 

Should a candidate struggle to recall a time when they had to make a crucial decision at work, you should probably consider other options. All the more so if they have great difficulty defining such.

Lastly, it’s important to distinguish between deficiencies that can be addressed and those that can’t. Remember, skills can be taught, but there’s very little you can do about someone’s attitude. Choose wisely.