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How to Screen Remote Developers [Free Template]

Looking to hire top remote developers? Download our screening template for optimal pre-selection and check this article, based on our experience. As screenings are a crucial part of the selection process, our Recruiter Milica Rikić will share with you useful and straight-to-the-point information. Let's check it out!

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Milica Rikić

Recruitment
Looking to hire top remote developers? Use our screening template for the best pre-selection, built on our experience.
Recruitment

Introduction

Hiring remote developers takes a careful and thorough strategy. The challenge is even greater because we need to evaluate both their technical abilities and their soft skills.

Moreover, the selection process is considered complex because the conclusions we make about soft skills can be subjective without measurable criteria. 

Screenings are limited, and from my experience, different assessment strategies such as situational and behavioral interview questions are not well received by developers in the early stages of the selection process.

Is it challenging to find the right candidate amidst all the demands? I face these challenges daily, so I will share with you how I identify these skills from my perspective. 

My name is Milica Rikić, and I'm a FatCat’s IT Recruiter with more than 3 years of experience in the regional and international tech markets. I also have a bachelor's degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

However, the insights I'll share with you are practical and can be applied in your work, regardless of your previous experience. :) 

The most important soft skills of remote staff that I will be discussing in this article are:

  1. Communication

  2. Teamwork 

  3. Adaptability

  4. Responsibility (this includes Time Management, Organization, and Self - motivation)

  5. Problem-solving  

Start by: !

Are Soft Skills Important for Developers?

We can say that those are the skills are the ones that enable developers to collaborate with colleagues, adapt to change, solve problems, and achieve goals.

So, yes! It's important to recognize these skills in order to select the right candidate for the job, while also ensuring the candidate's satisfaction. With the right choice, you can maintain work dynamics, increase productivity, and motivation, and reduce turnover and dissatisfaction within the team.

In our experience at FatCat, as we augment work-proven developers for remote clients, these skills have become crucial assets that are important for all the hiring parties in the process.

Be efficient: You can hire them NOW! 

Having that in mind, we're sharing an overview of why soft skills are of utmost importance when it comes to hiring remotely, based on our experience.

So, yes! It's important to recognize these skills in order to select the right candidate for the job, while also ensuring the candidate's satisfaction.
Why we should assess the soft skills of developers (overview)

How to Assess Soft Skills?

My experience shows that with a quality analysis of the history of previous jobs, you can answer most of the questions, even in the early stages of the selection process.

This analysis presents a detailed review of duties, achievements, team challenges, and changes. Through it, we can learn more about the candidate's responsibility teamwork orientation, reliability, adaptability, analytical abilities, and initiative. 

This technique is simple and doesn't take much time. It provides us with a deeper understanding of the candidate’s skills and gives us an insight into the actual performance. 

Also, it reduces the chance of getting socially desirable answers as it helps a recruiter to focus on real-life situations, not on potential ones as situational and behavioral questions imply.


While reading this article, you can download a useful template with 8 typical questions that help assess soft skills in the early stages of the selection process.

In each slide, you will find a question with further explanation and a NOTES section (box) for direct editing. Here are the steps for efficient use:

  • STEP 1: and fill in the candidate's name in the designated field in this template: [CANDIDATE NAME] - Soft Skills Screening.

  • STEP 2: During the interview, fill in the NOTES section with relevant information. Afterward, edit these notes for clarity and completeness.

  • STEP 3: Export the filled-in template as a PDF for improved distribution and documentation.

In each slide, you will find a question with further explanation and a NOTES section (box) for direct editing.
Example of the downloadable template page

In this downloadable and editable PPTX template, you can directly take notes for each aspect and question in the screening process.

Afterward, you can document it in the hiring documentation in PDF or other suitable formats

In this downloadable and editable PPTX template, you can directly take notes for each aspect and question in the screening process.

Free Screening Template

  1. Simplify the process with this template.

  2. You can fill out and edit easily.

  3. Easy-to-apply 8 screening questions.

Now, let’s go through each skill and how to approach it for the greatest benefit and thorough assessment. 

Communication

One of the most important soft skills for remote hiring is communication. Sounds too simple? Well, the purpose of this skill is to convey the message clearly and understandably to achieve the desired effect. 

Therefore, it is an important skill for your future employees and the team dynamics. Luckily, it can be easily analyzed in serval different phases of the selection process, including the screening. 

The first contact with the candidate involves written communication, which shows me their level of interest in the company and the project or position they will be potentially working on. Pay attention to their tone and writing style as it can reveal their ability to communicate articulate their intentions in a clear manner.

During the screening process, I prefer open-ended interviews rather than standardized questionnaires to give the candidate space to demonstrate their articulation and clarity skills, as well as the ability to listen actively. 

Is Nonverbal Communication Assessable?


Yes! As a recruiter, I pay special attention to nonverbal communication and clues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures because they convey certain messages, such as interest, honesty, enthusiasm, etc.

For example, it can happen that a developer is unfocused. During the interview, they can be responding to emails, or reading reviews about the company, which gives an impression of disinterest and disrespect.

Of course, on the other hand, we have those who maintain eye contact, listen carefully, nod their heads, and show motivation for the company and the job itself.

In my opinion, it is easier to evaluate non-verbal communication remotely because you can focus only on the gesticulation that gives away the most information.

Note: A candidate can be just anxious and not a bad communicator.
Note: A candidate can be just anxious and not a bad communicator.

However, be attentive. This skill, in addition to clear expression and active listening, can also indicate the candidate's lack of confidence, or introversion, which is correlated with anxiety. 

Certainly, I take these insights with caution, as anxiety often occurs during interviews. It can happen that we can just have an extrovert who is anxious.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
  • Candidate’s writing style in the application

  • Their ability to listen to your questions

  • Gesticulation during the interview

  • If they are anxious

Teamwork

Working together in IT is almost imperative, so the second skill I focus on is teamwork. We recognize it through quality communication, sharing resources, and responsibilities.

It's good to introduce the candidate to the structure of the potential team, their roles, and the company culture. These pieces of information can help the candidate assess how they would fit in. I always observe their reaction to my little talk about the team and then I analyze the candidate’s work history and check if they had similar experiences. 

Their answers, additional questions, and nonverbal reactions provide valuable insight into his level of satisfaction with potential colleagues.

It is important to have a candidate who matches the team, as this leads to quicker adaptation, better distribution of responsibilities, increased motivation, and greater potential for innovation and creativity.

How to Test Teamwork Furtherly?

As a result of my previous experience, a panel interview is useful so that the team can get to know the personality of the new employee. So far, it has proven effective to let the team make the final decision, as they are the best at recognizing the candidate who is most similar to them in terms of team culture. 

It's also beneficial to ask the candidate for their feedback about the team afterward to get their opinion. Again, you can see how they communicate and if there's a match from their side, as well.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
  • How they talk about their current team

  • What they value in a team environment

  • Their reaction to your company’s team description

  • Why they changed previous roles

Make this easier:

Adaptability

Each project requires a new challenge, so one’s ability to adapt quickly is crucial. Furthermore, team spirit is also related to adaptability. 

The more adaptable a new member is, the quicker they will accept potential changes and will not disrupt the team's dynamics. 

To maintain a healthy work environment, you need a candidate who is willing to compromise and open to different ideas, opinions, and working styles.

In the initial phases, I usually check how often the candidate steps out of their roles, and how they handle different challenges. Their responses can show us how flexible, cooperative, and adaptable they are to changes in the work environment (check out the questions for this in the ).

PAY ATTENTION TO:
  • Approach to new challenges 

  • How they perceive team changes

  • Quick adjustment and openness.

  • Handling of challenges and changes

Responsibility

A productive environment can’t grow without people who own their tasks and obligations. That is why I also focus on responsibility, which refers to a candidate's ability to perform their duties reliably.

During the screening process, I aim to learn more about their duties and accomplishments, opportunities. Their experience tells us about the responsibilities they had and the specific results of the assumed responsibility. 

Additionally, promotions and mentorships can indicate a high level of this skill because a candidate could be responsible leading to earning the trust of former employers. 

What About the Time Spent on Previous Roles?

My advice is to also assess the length of time spent in companies, as it is related to commitment, consistency in work, and again employer trust. However, be cautious. One way is to analyze the reasons for the changes, because the candidate may have an adequate explanation for leaving the company quickly. 

Responsibility can be also recognized even before the selection process – for example, whether the candidate respected the interview time, sent the resume as agreed, or completed the task on time, etc. 

With responsibility, I also connect other skills, such as time management, organization, and self-motivation (and questions can be found in ).

An organized and responsible candidate should be able to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, focus on goals, take initiative, and even adapt quickly to new technologies as our developers did with React Native when we landed a new client.

PAY ATTENTION TO:
  • The candidate's accomplishments and promotions

  • Timely submission of CV, questionnaire, etc.

  • Punctuality and responsiveness

  • Frequent job changes without explanation

Responsibility can be also recognized even before the selection process – for example, whether the candidate respected the interview time, sent the resume as agreed, or completed the task on time, etc.
How to recognize responsibility as a soft skill?

Problem-solving

When someone says “soft skill” and “remote developers” one of the key attributes that cross our minds is problem-solving.

An employee's problem-solving skills refer to their ability to provide solutions to complex problems. Even though this skill involves a technical aspect, we can learn what types of problems the candidate has encountered and how they approached them. 

As a recruiter, I try to recognize if they are analytical, proactive, critical, and open-minded. A high level of this skill contributes to achieving the desired result efficiently, with less time and resources. 

The recommendation is to further explore this skill in the technical aspect of the interview process. Problem–solving skills may be more visible in technical assessments and challenging tasks as well, rather than in the screening process. 

PAY ATTENTION TO:
  • How they approached problems in their company

  • Their solutions

  • If they are a fast thinker

Want to test all of this in practice?

Conclusion

Using the right screening and interview techniques and paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues can greatly improve how well you judge a candidate's soft skills.

Looking into a candidate's work history tells you much about their abilities from their past jobs and growth. Skills like communication, teamwork, adaptability, responsibility, and problem-solving are crucial for developers to overcome challenges and achieve goals successfully. 

This leads to satisfaction, motivation, strong interpersonal connections, and career advancement opportunities. 

The interviewing team plays a key role in validating observations and engaging in both casual conversations and technical evaluations with the candidate. 

Remember, the hiring process is comprehensive, involving initial contact, feedback, and observing how well the candidate meets deadlines, which also reveals their sense of responsibility and communication skills.


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