First time hiring a remote developer? Here’s How to spot the perfect candidate during the interview

First time hiring a remote developer? Here’s How to spot the perfect candidate during the interview
May 13, 2019

Hiring developers is a challenging task. Given that the technical expertise and professionalism are hard to find, hiring remote developers for your startup could be even more challenging and intimidating.

Luckily, there are platforms like Remoteplatz that make the whole process a lot easier as we take over the screening, filtration, and assessment processes before we hand you the most relevant candidates. At this -most important- stage, all you need to do is to get a feel for the developer’s personality and culture fit. Here we provide some examples of general interview questions to help you rule out unqualified candidates without wasting time.

 

Technical assessment

Considering your candidates have gone through a technical test, it’s advisable to follow up with specific questions about it. Some interviewers will ask their candidates to go through every line of code and explain what the code on each line reflects.

Live coding

A very useful technique to assess your candidate’s coding skills further is often conducted through a shared screen where candidates are given a coding task or a problem to solve on the spot. This is one of the most beneficial interview tests that help employers evaluate the developer’s coding, problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills altogether. Other employers would ask the candidate to critique a technology or to offer their opinions on a certain code. At the end of the day, these exercises aim at more than just evaluating the developers’ coding skills as it helps to test whether both parties can collaborate coherently in a remote environment.

 

Previous remote work experience

Perhaps the most basic question is asking your developer if they’ve had previous remote work experience. This will help you figure out if the candidate is in the “remote work mindset”, meaning that they aren’t new to the challenges and pitfalls that come with the remote work structure.

A good question you can ask at this stage could be:

  • If you have worked remotely before, what were the biggest challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?

 

Should you reject a candidate because they are new to remote work?

Definitely not. Great developers will find their ways to adapt to the new environment. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson say in their book “REMOTE, office not requires”, “Remote work pulls back the curtain and exposes what was always the case, but not always appreciated or apparent: Great workers are simply great workers. They exhibit two key qualities, as Joel Spolsky labeled them in his ‘Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing’: Smart, and Get Things Done.”

 

Tools

Selecting the right digital tool is the starting point for creating a successful remote team. After all, remote work is all about virtual communication and collaboration.

Questions you can ask:

  • What tools do you use to communicate and collaborate with colleagues?
  • Why do you prefer X (tool) over Y?
  • What’s your favorite project management tool?

By asking these questions you will be able to determine if the interviewee is familiar with the basic tools and knows what to use and when. Ideally, they should have experience with using communication tools such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, and Slack. And several project management tools such as; Trello, and Jira.

 

Communication skills

Sara Sutton Fell, founder, and CEO of job site FlexJobs said: “The very best remote workers will reach out to co-workers and managers regularly to check in, ask questions and collaborate on projects. That includes communicating through email, phone, instant messenger, chat boards, web conferencing and many other tools. They’ll also ask lots of questions to make sure they understand the project, and to show that they’re engaged with the team.”

Simply put, great communicators understand the need to be proactive when interacting with their teams.

To assess this skill you will need to ask a variety of questions such as:

  • What would you do if you had an urgent question and your team was offline?
  • Which channel would you choose to have a conversation with a colleague and why? (e.g. video call, email, Slack messages)
  • How would you avoid miscommunication with your remote colleagues?
  • Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?

 

Most of these questions are to get a sense of a candidate’s ability to communicate about a variety of topics. Michael Bruch, founder of social media app Willow, explained how to do so even before the interview “See how quickly they respond to emails, how clearly they communicate digitally, how flexible they are in terms of scheduling meetings, etc. You need to look for people who work both with agility and efficiency.”

 

Time management

No remote developer can thrive without some degree of time management skills. And no business can grow with developers that are always behind schedule.

Make sure you ask these questions during the interview:

  • How do you schedule your work?
  • Do you multitask?
  • How do you balance work with your personal life?
  • How do you ensure that task completion estimates are accurate?
  • Can you tell me about a time you were late to complete a task?

Check our previous blog article for more interview questions about time management.

 

A checklist

By the end of the interview, you should be able to determine whether your candidate fits the criteria. The ideal remote developer should meet at least 3 of the following traits:

  • Good communicator
  • Self-motivated
  • Receptive to feedback
  • Organized
  • Proactive

 

Hiring a remote developer is a tedious process, especially for a startup. Therefore, don’t waste your time in hiring the wrong person. As we mentioned, most remote jobs are long-term and hence, hiring the perfect fit will save you a lot of hassle.

 

What’s after the interview?

Once you’ve chosen and hired the right candidate, make them feel like an important part of the company culture. Arrange an introductory meeting where both remote and in-office employees are present to encourage team bonding. After that, it’s time to make everyone feel part of a community by creating a positive and inclusive culture. Here are our secret ingredients for doing so.

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