Whilst a remote pharma job may have the same job description as an in-office role, these are two very different working environments, and so the things you look for when interviewing candidates may differ.
In this article, we outline some of the most important qualities a remote employee should have, along with some interview questions for you to ask to assess each one…
You need to be able to trust remote employees to meet their deadlines, be honest about their progress, collaborate well with others, and use their time productively. You can assess a candidate’s reliability from the beginning of the interview process by making sure they show up on time, and that they’re being honest about their background. You can also ask:
- Describe a time when you were unable to finish a task on time. What did you do?
- Describe a time when you took on additional responsibilities to meet a deadline.
- Tell us about a time when you have made a mistake. How did you resolve it/what did you learn from it?
Ability to Work Independently
This means more than completing every task without help, or being the only person working in a room. Employees who can work well independently should be able to take ownership over their workload, know when to figure things out on their own and when to task for help, and be able to use their initiative to solve problems. To assess this, you could ask:
- Tell us about a time when you successfully worked independently.
- Why do you think being able to work independently is important for this role?
- Describe a time when you were given a task that wasn’t clear. What did you do?
Remote employees need to be able to make their own judgement calls when help isn’t available and should be trusted to take the necessary steps to carry a project to completion. When looking through job applications, look out for candidates who have taken a risk by doing something different or who have gone beyond the basic application requirements to stand out. In an interview, you could also ask:
- Tell us about a time where you had to overcome an unexpected hurdle on your own. What did you do and what was the outcome?
- What does using your initiative mean to you?
- Describe a time when you were given a project to manage with little direction. What decisions did you have to make on your own?
Remote employees need to be able to accomplish their daily tasks without being pushed and should be able to keep themselves motivated to be productive. Some may find it harder to stay motivated in their job if they don’t believe in the company and don’t have a genuine interest in what you do, so this is also something you need to find out during the interview process. You could ask:
- What motivates you?
- What do you understand about our mission?
- How do you stay motivated when completing repetitive tasks?
Remote employees must be able to manage their own workload and prioritise their tasks. During the interview process, look out for candidates who show a high level of preparation, for example by pre-preparing questions to ask in the interview. To assess how organised they are, you can also ask:
- How do you schedule your workday?
- How do you prioritise tasks?
- How do you keep track of the work you’ve completed?
Good Communication Skills
Employees working remotely should demonstrate good responsiveness as well as the ability to build relationships with colleagues and clients and express ideas clearly. During the interview process, candidates with good communication skills will be able to give clear and structured answers to your questions and should be responsive to your emails and calls. You should also pay attention to their body language as well as how engaged they are in the conversation. During the interview, you can also ask:
- In your previous role, what platforms did you use to communicate with colleagues?
- Why do you think communication within a team is so important?
- Can you give us an example of a time when you showed good communication skills?
Ability to Work Collaboratively
Similarly, candidates need to prove that they can still work well in a team that’s working remotely. When working on a group project, they need to be able to communicate their progress, listen to their colleagues and help with any issues, and find a way to keep track of the progress of the project as a whole. In the interview, you could ask:
- Which online collaboration tools are you familiar with/have you used?
- Describe a time where you worked well in a team and outline the role you played.
- What do you think good teamwork looks like?
Previous Remote Working Experience
Whilst previous remote working experience is great as it proves a candidate could work well in that environment, it shouldn’t be essential, as long as they understand what it will involve, and the potential challenges and benefits. If they haven’t worked remotely before, you could ask:
- What do you think you’ll like about working remotely?
- Why did you apply for a remote working role?
- Do you see any potential challenges to working remotely? How will you overcome them?
Regardless of how qualified a candidate may be and of how many requirements they meet for your role, they still may not thrive in a remote working environment. You should consider making some stages of the interview process remote to get an idea of how well they communicate like this, and even think about getting other remote employees to talk about their experiences and some of the challenges they’ve faced.
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