The current world of work is an environment of perpetual disruption with a high pace of change in all aspects of business, from technology to consumer behaviour. This means it is ever more important for employers to rethink their hiring process to successfully identify and attract talent that is highly adaptable and open to learning new skills. 

Team leaders now have the challenging task, during interviews, of asking the right questions to reveal which candidates are best suited to fast-paced and agile work environments. 

Candidate Selection Criteria

 

We have found that there are certain traits or characteristics which are common across high-performing agile workers. Seeking these characteristics out in your new team hires may help to ensure that you’re securing the best possible candidate. It’s useful to create an interview form containing your questions which could be filled in by those in the hiring process and used as a template for interviews going forward. For this example, we have used Google Forms.

When you’re looking for talent, keep the following criteria in mind:

1.  A WILLINGNESS TO LEARN:

Workers who want to do things the way they have always been done will often find remote work challenging, especially with emerging technologies. That’s why a desire and willingness to learn is a prized remote working soft skill. Whether the candidate will need to learn a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, adopt a set of new company policies, or tackle another new task, their willingness to learn is a highly valued commodity.

What To Ask:

  • Tell me about a risk you took and failed. What did you learn?
  • What can you do today that you couldn’t do 6 months ago?
  • When last did you take a course?
  • Describe a situation where you were asked to do something you’ve never done before.

What To Look For:
A candidate who has volunteered for stretch-tasks in their roles or who have decidedly taken on a task outside of their comfort zone in order to grow. A willingness to embrace new technologies as well as a candidate who has sought out mentorship are also good examples. 

 

2. A WILLINGNESS TO WORK IN A TEAM:

Having the skill set to collaborate with team members on projects is vital for any team, but especially remote ones. Whether you’re creating a new campaign or launching a new product, how a candidate works with others gives you an idea of what it’s like to have them as an employee and co-worker. Because the candidate will only have the internet to communicate with their peers and complete work tasks, they must possess the skills to work with others efficiently. If they struggle with this, remote work may not be for them.

What To Ask:

  • Have you ever worked on several small teams at once?
  • Have you ever disagreed with your manager? How did you deal with it? 
  • What does it mean to you to be a team player? 
  • Tell me about a time you had to work with a colleague that you didn’t get along with.

What To Look For:
A candidate with the ability to communicate well, actively listen and respond honestly will do well working as part of a team. Empathy and awareness of others are also qualities of a good team player. 

 

3. AN ABILITY TO SELF-MANAGE:

Is the candidate sufficiently self-motivated or self-disciplined? Can they manage time effectively? Working remotely means that work/life boundaries can get blurred and this can make it challenging to effectively manage time. When building a remote team, look for an independent worker who’s responsible for managing their time and setting clear boundaries between deep work and shallow tasks. If someone is consistently late, isn’t good at tracking the time, or is unable to communicate clear boundaries, remote work likely isn’t for them.

What To Ask:

  • What is your preferred management style?
  • What do you when you sense a task is going to take longer than expected? 
  • When you had extra time available at your last job, describe ways you found to make your job more efficient.
  • How do you keep yourself motivated when you experience a setback on the way to achieve your goal?

What To Look For:
A candidate who arrives on time and is well prepared for the interview. This may mean the candidate has downloaded the appropriate meeting app ahead of time, is dressed appropriately for the virtual interview, has a professional background or home-working space, and one who has prepared questions about the organisation.

 

4. A POSITIVE DISPOSITION:

When teams are motivated and positive, they accomplish more and they also have fun being a part of the team. A positive attitude and disposition can go a long way to successfully meeting some of the challenges of working remotely. Several studies have shown that happy, content, positive thinking people are more successful in their careers, more creative and work well with other people.

What To Ask:

  • Tell me about a situation when you dealt with conflict in the workplace remotely.
  • Have you ever felt that your skills were being overlooked? What did you do to improve the situation?
  • What’s the toughest lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
  • How do you handle negative feedback?

What To Look For:
A candidate who shows enthusiasm for working with your organisation, who asks genuine questions about the role and the work. A candidate who does not badmouth previous employers, but rather provides a forward-looking and positive review of their past experiences.

 

5. ABILITY TO HANDLE WORKING REMOTELY:

According to the 2020 State of Remote Work Report 20% of remote workers say they struggle with loneliness. A successful candidate will need to be happy and comfortable working on their own and motivating themselves to do so. When hiring a remote employee, look for a self-starter; someone with the confidence to make key decisions on their own.

What To Ask:

  • How much of your social life comes from work?
  • Where do you feel you are most productive? 
  • Have you ever worked remotely? What were some of the challenges you faced?
  • Why do you want to work from home?

What To Look For:
A self-motivated and technology savvy candidate who does not derive a huge portion of their social lives from work. One who can manage flexible work hours to accommodate overseas colleagues and who feels productive working from anywhere.

 

RANKING YOUR CANDIDATES

 

Using your candidate criteria and the candidate’s interview answers to the assessment questions, you can vote on which candidate you think is best. It is mostly likely that a manager or direct line of report, an HR representative and a senior manager will each cast their vote on the candidates. 

A simple scoring mechanism using Google Excel works well to manage the candidate’s scores. 


At the end of each interview, the key decision-makers give each candidate a score out of 25. In this example, 1 = no ability/willingness; 2 = not a strong enough ability/willingness; 4 = a promising ability/willingness; and 5 = a strong ability/willingness. The highest scoring candidate indicates the best performing candidate.

 

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