Now, more than ever, we live in a time where working remotely is a necessity, rather than a choice. Therefore, it has become crucial to know the right questions to ask developers in interviews. This is especially true both for remote engineering teams and outsourced software developers seeking a distributed team model.
Whether the result of current events, difficulties finding in-house developers, or pressure from engineers looking for remote flexibility, companies around the world are considering the remote engineering team model.
However, this shift towards remote work requires hiring managers and tech interviewers to keep an eye out for red flags that may signal this person would not be a good fit for working remotely.
Top 5 remote work questions to ask developers:
1. Have you been working remotely til now?
Obvious as it may seem, getting this in early achieves two key things: “Yes” allows you to move on to other areas around skills, tools and past experiences.
A “No” means you need to take a little more time to establish that they have the right mindset for telecommuting. Follow up with questions like “How do you expect your work routines to change?” and “Why do you think remote working will work for you?” You’re looking for someone who’s thought this through, not someone who’s just had enough of sitting in traffic in the morning. A Software Engineer fitting for the role may not be the best fit for remote working – adjustment periods are fine; what you don’t want is someone who finds out they don’t like being alone for much of the day three months into the job.
Finally, “Why are you interested in remote work?” should prompt a good prospect to tell you why they do their best work under their own steam, not just talk about how it will improve their life generally.
2. How do you schedule your day while working remotely?
Answers to this should tell you a lot about how someone stays focused, productive and motivated when no one’s looking. Great Software Engineers will talk in terms of priorities, handling the inevitable distractions and managing tasks.
If flex-time or shift work on a global team are options, this question will help you figure out whether the Engineer’s lifestyle meets your team requirements – are they night owls or early risers? Do they take a couple of hours in the early afternoon to collect the kids from school? If it fits in with your needs and time zones, someone mature enough to understand when they’re at their best will work well.
3. How would you handle a situation where a project you’re working on is falling behind schedule?
The best remote workers are self-reliant and motivated–but they’re also responsible and proactive. This includes knowing when to flag potential problems or admit you’re getting off your remote work schedule–both of which can happen when you’re not in the same building as your co-workers, who won’t necessarily notice if you’re struggling.
Self-guided problem solvers make great telecommuters–but they also know they don’t have to solve every single issue on their own, potentially putting projects or co-workers at risk. Hire Software Engineers who have a strategy for handling curveballs, the confidence to admit when they’re struggling and the ability to find solutions. A responsible, “manage expectations” notification gives everyone on the team time to work around any issues.
4. Your manager/remote team is offline and there’s a problem. What will you do?
Everyone hits last-minute issues. Remote workers need to have the confidence, judgement and resourcefulness to make decisions independently when there are problems or challenges and no one else is online.
Look for Software Engineers capable of taking on what they can to keep things moving, who communicate with relevant team members – and know when something’s urgent enough for an out-of-hours call. Software Engineers who know how to build relationships with co-workers outside their team will also be able to call in the cavalry for advice or company guidelines in similar situations.
5. What tools have you used for collaboration among remote team members?
Experienced remote workers will tell you it’s a ‘horses for courses’ thing – email for issues you need to get in writing or aren’t urgent (deadlines, for example), Skype/instant messaging for quick questions and Slack/Basecamp for streamed group chats, brainstorming or the all-important socializing.
Ultimately, it’s not the specific tools that matter so much as an Engineer’s understanding of the importance of communication. A good remote worker understands the practicalities of conducting, say, a code review via email, GoToMeeting, screenshare…You should be looking for someone who’s figured out what’s most effective for the situation they’re in.
Quote on Remote Work:
Bootcamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson say in their book Remote: Office Not Required, :
“Great remote workers are simply great workers. They exhibit two key qualities…smart and gets things done.”
Once you’ve found promising Software Engineers who are the right fit for remote work, you are really set for success on the long run.
Our Team on Managing Remote teams:
The Zartis CTO, Angel Benito and Tech Leads, Michal and Antonio, discuss “How to Manage Remote Engineering Teams” efficiently. From comms and processes, to setting the right mindset, our Engineering Leaders share their insights.
To make sure that you not only hire the right people but also manage them correctly, you may want to go through the checklist: 6 Steps to Remote Work Success
If you simply do not have the resources to source, interview, hire and onboard software engineers remotely, you can work with an outsourcing partner that knows the right questions to ask developers and will help you focus on what matters – building great software.
Whether you are based in the US, the UK, Ireland, Germany, or beyond, Zartis will assemble a world-class extended team for you from our software development centers in Spain, Poland, or Portugal in no time. Simply drop us a line to start building your dedicated development team.
Depending on your business objectives, we will give you our expert opinion on how you can speed up hiring, and whether it makes more sense to do this in-house or outsource.