COVID-19: 8 Soft-Skills Questions To Ask When Hiring New Employees For Remote Working During This Pandemic

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You may be wondering, the whole world is affected by the Covid-19 virus, the global recession is affecting businesses and economies, and unemployment rates in many developed countries are on the rise. So who is still hiring?

On 14th May 2020, DBS has committed to hiring around 2,000 new employees this year despite Covid-19. DBS has already hired 500 new employees since February, with another 500 to be hired soon. The other 1,000 over new hires will be for new roles, including traineeships, graduate slots and specialized positions for experienced professionals. DBS has also participated in the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, to hire 500 students from universities, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education or other private institutions for 6 to 12-month traineeships.

“As a key employer in Singapore, it seemed right to us to continue to create job opportunities where we can, so as to help more people tide through this difficult period.”, said Chief executive Piyush Gupta.

Other than a big bank like DBS, some smaller companies are also looking to hire now. Some see a surge in demand for their services, while others are preparing for once the market picks up. Workforce Singapore is also providing assistance grant for companies that are hiring new Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents through the P-Max Programme.

So before you brush off the idea of hiring new employees during Covid-19, read on to find out what you need to look out for in a remote worker. Who knows, your business might be the next to prosper once Circuit Breaker measures are lifted, and you need to hire more employees!

Hiring new employees amid the Covid-19 pandemic now holds a different meaning

  1. Virtual interviews may be held instead of physical face to face interviews. Unlike face to face meetings where your first impression will be based largely on the overall presentation and demeanor of the interviewee, all you have now is a face on a screen.

Body language will be difficult to read, thus you can only rely on facial expressions and the tone of voice.

  1. Many companies have decided to continue with remote working even after “Circuit Breaker” ends on 1st June 2020

As remote working is most likely here to stay for a long time, there will indeed be a difference in hiring a new employee now compared to pre-Covid days. Hence, hiring a new employee now means you need to select the right person who is able to work well remotely and effectively, and at the same time a good team player. 

  1. What you need to look closely for are communication skills, work ethic, and time management skills. Other than looking at job competencies, a remote worker needs to know how to manage time, stay accountable, and completely independent. These are what make a difference when we are looking for a remote worker.

  1. Interview questions will also be very different. Aside from the usual questions like expected salary, work experience and availability, there is a need to ask soft-skills questions. This should help to determine if the interviewee is suitable for the remote position that you are looking for.

Here are 8 key questions you need to ask to find out if your interviewee is suitable for the remote position:

  1. Do you have any experience in a remote position? What is your favorite thing about working remotely, and what were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?

This question helps you to find out your potential employee’s experience in remote working, and if his experience is relevant to the position in your company. You also want him to understand the pros and cons of working remotely.

  1. What is your home office like?

It is good to know if your potential hire has a conducive environment to work at home. Is he working in a common area at home and easily faced with distractions? Or does he have a proper room to work in? 

  1. What tools have you used to complete and manage remote projects?

Besides having a reliable computer and internet connection, a remote worker needs to know how to use various communication and file-sharing tools.

  1. How do you usually plan your working day?

Self-management and time management skills are crucial here. Does your potential employee follow a daily routine? How does he prioritize his tasks? 

  1. You have an urgent issue to solve but all the team is offline. How would you handle the problem?

There is no right answer for this. By asking this, you want to check if your potential hire is able to take responsibilities and how he manages a situation. A remote worker should be able to move on with the problem solving until it is possible.

  1. How comfortable are you with discussing remote work-related concerns or conflicts?

In a normal office setting, conflicts are common but at least colleagues are able to discuss face to face and move on. It is important for a remote worker to be comfortable and calm to discuss the little problems that may arise before they become big ones.

  1. What is your strategy to get over a problem when you get stuck?

This is to get an idea of how he creatively deals with unexpected issues and solve problems on his own.

  1. How do you stay focused and manage a tight deadline?

Remote workers need to have good time management skills and respect deadlines. Find out how he plans to handle daily job responsibilities and if he can be accountable.

These soft-skills questions are just a guideline to how you can assess your potential hire on top of looking at his job competencies. By asking the above key questions, it helps to understand your interviewees better and find the best remote help available.

Hiring a remote worker may be straightforward, but how he fits into your company culture and communicating with his coworkers virtually will ultimately depend on the onboarding process of your company, training and support, as well as real life situations which you will only be able to observe after hiring him.



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UPDATED AS OF 15 Jun 2024
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