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Zoom Interview Tips: 9 Green Flags to Look Out for When Interviewing a Remote Assistant

What qualities should you look for in an ideal remote employee? Find out more in this post.
Zoom interviews can be nerve-wracking — especially if you’ve never conducted one before.

This 30-minute window is your only chance to determine if a person would make a great addition to your team or not.  As an employer or hiring manager, you need to have a keen eye for the subtle qualities that separate average candidates from excellent ones.

In this post, we asked seasoned founders and remote hiring managers about the traits that would make them say: “Yep, I’m hiring this person!” during the online interview — and we compiled them all below.

Here are 9 green flags that you should look out for when interviewing candidates over Zoom:

1. They care about the little things

One of the biggest differences between remote interviews and physical ones is that you have zero control over the applicant’s environment.

That said, candidates who are serious about the role will put more effort into how they present themselves on camera. Applicants who pick a quiet, well-lit setting, for example, are always a green flag in our book. Plus points if they make an effort to reduce background noise and use a non-distracting Zoom background!

Their personal appearance also matters. They don’t need to wear formal attire during the interview (it’s no secret that we’re all wearing pajama bottoms at this point) or have a professional studio setup. They just need to be presentable and ready.


Distractions are inevitable during Zoom interviews. Use this as an opportunity to gauge how a candidate reacts to the distractions around them.

2. They did their homework

Keep an eye out for candidates who’ve done a little research about your company before hopping on the call.

“I remember a few candidates who had looked me up and listened to podcast interviews I'd done, and asked about them. I couldn't believe it,” shares Allen Walton, founder of Spyguy.

These candidates are not just shopping around. They’re seriously looking for a place that can provide long-term growth — and they want to see if your company would be a good fit for them. Doing their homework is also a good indicator that they’re prepared to answer your possible questions.

It’s a green flag when candidates know:
  • What your company does
  • Your target market
  • Your company’s values
  • What challenges your industry is facing
  • What they can bring to the table

Lastly, coming in prepared shows you a glimpse of the applicant’s work ethic and attention to detail. If they can spend that time researching for a company before they even get the job, imagine the effort they’d give once they actually get hired.


Make sure you’ve got an informative company website so applicants can easily learn more about your organization. If you don’t have one up, hire a skilled web designer to help you out.

3. They can express themselves well

Interviews are more enjoyable when candidates know how to express their ideas well. Since you’ll be collaborating remotely, it’s also important that your assistant knows how to get their ideas across through tools like Zoom, Google Meet, or Slack.

A green flag applicant is someone who’s:

  • conversational
  • easy to talk to —
  • — and able to communicate clearly, without using big, complicated words

For example, when you ask them a question about a certain process, they should be able to take you from Point A to Point B with ease.

Take note, though, that some Filipino assistants may appear shy or reserved at the beginning. Don't mistake this for lack of skill. Most of the time, they’re just nervous. Ease into the interview by asking neutral questions or icebreakers.

Tone is also important. Abegail Pates, a talent sourcing specialist, highlights the importance of finding someone who can talk to you like a true collaborator:

“The candidate that talks to the interviewer like an equal gives the impression that they value themselves as much as they respect their co-workers. A job should be an equal arrangement after all.”


Filipino work culture values hierarchy, so don’t be surprised if some applicants address you as “ma’am” or “sir”. Just remind them that it’s okay to call you by your first name.

4. They give detailed and specific answers

An inperson interview between a man and a woman

Interviews can be full of canned answers and sweeping generalizations. You’ve probably heard lots of applicants mention that their “greatest weakness is working too hard”. Heck, maybe you’ve used that line yourself, too.

According to Abegail, a candidate who “gives generic answers signals that they don't really know what they're talking about, or that their knowledge is just surface-level.”

Good candidates, on the other hand, offer concrete answers with specific examples. These are the employees you want in your company. Being able to give detailed answers shows the depth of their experience and subject-matter expertise.

Be on the lookout for applicants who can:

  • back their resumes with real-life experience
  • offer genuine insights to tough questions —
  • — and walk you through their thought process.

For example, a strong candidate should be able to tell you about the biggest lessons they’ve learned from their previous role. They should also be able to cite specific scenarios or share how they plan on applying those lessons in the future.

Aside from technical knowledge, giving detailed answers is also a sign of enthusiasm and genuine interest in the role.

5. They’re upfront about the things they don’t know

What if the applicant doesn’t know the answer to your interview question?

For managers like Tre Fuentes, the best course of action is honesty.

“You’ll always know if someone is only saying something to sound smart or maybe they thought that's what you wanted to hear.”

In cases like this, observe how the applicant responds to the question. If they admit that they don’t know the answer or lack the experience to talk about the topic at length, that’s a good sign! This shows that they’re aware of what they lack, and are willing to learn from others about it.

Honesty also goes beyond the interview. Good applicants don’t exaggerate their job experience, pad their resumes, or lie about their job history. Instead, they’re upfront about these details. Look for applicants who can honestly — but tactfully — answer tough questions like:

  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Have you had a boss you didn’t like?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work?

Lastly, showing a bit of vulnerability is a sign of self-awareness. If you want to hire someone who’s aware of their strengths and weaknesses and is willing to improve, this is a good metric to keep in mind.

6. They keep a level head — even when things don’t go as planned

A lot of things can go wrong during a Zoom interview: you could lose your internet connection,  tools might stop working halfway through the call, or someone’s cat might walk into the screen.

An excellent candidate knows how to keep their cool even when things don’t go as planned. This is a great opportunity for you to gauge how they react during a setback. See if they’ve got a Plan B or if they can solve the problem in a calm and logical way.

“Interviews, whether virtual or in-person, can be difficult,” Tre says, “But if the candidate shows they are able to function under pressure, it's always a green flag.”

7. They ask insightful questions

Green flag applicants also ask insightful questions during the interview. This shows that the candidate is thinking about all the aspects of the position and not just the superficial side of it.

“When the candidate asks thoughtful questions about career growth, company metrics, and other people on the team, it's a good sign that they've done plenty of research and envision themselves working here,” shares Aswin Sibu, co-founder of Mixrank.

Create opportunities for assistants to ask you questions, ideally after you’ve conducted the interview. Encourage them to share what they think about the company, the role, and if they’ve got any questions for you. Make it a conversation!

8. They don’t talk trash

A man in a yellow sweater goes on a Zoom interview

It’s easy to talk negatively about a bad manager or a job you didn’t like, but it takes emotional intelligence to speak with objectivity. If a candidate can criticize a negative experience without badmouthing other folks, earmark their resumes.

This shows a level of professionalism that you’d like to have within your team. Observe how the candidate talks about their previous job or manager during the interview. They don’t have to sing praises, but they should at least be able to give honest feedback without assigning blame or attacking someone personally.

Another green flag is candidates who can keep confidential information to themselves. Remember: they’ll be your future employees. You don’t want them spilling your company’s information to strangers.

Learn more: 8 ways to share confidential information with remote Filipino assistants

9. Their post-interview attitude matters, too

Applicants will obviously put their best foot forward during the interview — and that’s great! But how do they act after the official interview is over? Do they relax a bit or are they still ill at ease? Try to notice if they can slip out of the “interview mode” and show a bit of their personality right before you end the call.

Another green flag: applicants who send in short but thoughtful emails after the interview. It’s a good indication that they care about the job and probably had a great time interacting with you.

How to spot these interview green flags

It’s easy to spot a bad candidate from a mile away, but it takes a discerning eye to recognize green flags during the interview. Here are a few things you can do to spot these traits:

Observe their non-verbal cues

Filipinos come from a high-context culture that uses a lot of non-verbal cues to communicate. You can probably learn more about them from their tone, hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language. That said, request to have your cameras on during this initial interview so that you can spot these cues.

Learn more: What’s Filipino work culture like?

Ask the right questions

Next, ask the right questions! Use the interview as an opportunity to help you uncover key areas like the candidate’s problem-solving chops or interpersonal skills.

Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team, compiled the best interview questions according to 1000+ managers. Here are some of them:

  • If you had an entire workday with no meetings, obligations, or interruptions — what would you do?
  • What is the project that you are most proud of?
  • How do you know you’ve had a productive day at the office?
  • Can you describe a company you would love to work in?
  • Let’s say you were to be in this role — what would your biggest learning curve be?

Learn more: 11 interview questions you need to be asking

Take notes

Interviews happen fast. These green flags often hide in the details, so make sure to take notes during the interview. If you can, ask permission from the applicants to record the interview for future reference.

Don’t schedule back-to-back interviews

Back-to-back interviews don't give you time to sit down and evaluate the conversation. Instead of talking to 3 different candidates in a row, for example, space each interview about 10 minutes apart. If you did a panel interview with some of your team members, take time to debrief. Share what you liked about the candidate and what stood out to you.

Bottomline: take time to digest each one so you don’t miss the little details.

Be on the lookout for these green flags

The interview is your only chance to get to know the candidate before making The Big Decision. It’s important to spot these green flags during your interview, so you can hire the best candidate for the job.

Here at Somewhere, we help our clients focus on the interview by doing all the nitty-gritty hiring tasks for them. All they have to do is let us know what they’re looking for and then show up to interview a shortlist of candidates. If this sounds like what you need, send us a message today and we’ll help you start a search.

FAQs about online interview green flags

How do you start a Zoom interview as an interviewer?

Lots of Filipino assistants can come across as shy and reserved at first. Ease into the interview by asking neutral questions or ice-breakers.

What are some examples of interview green flags?

Here are some green flags that you can look out for when conducting an interview:

  • The applicant picks a quiet, well-lit setting and is prepared for the interview
  • They did their research
  • They can express themselves well, giving detailed answers to questions
  • They're upfront about the areas that they need help with
  • They're level-headed, even when things don't go as planned
  • They ask insightful questions
  • They're tactful and friendly
Is emotional intelligence a green flag?

It sure is. More than IQ, you want team members with self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to manage their emotions well. EQ is also a big factor in teamwork. Employees with high emotional intelligence communicate more effectively and collaborate with others better.

What questions are asked in a Zoom interview?

You have to ask the right questions to get insightful answers. Here are some questions that you can ask candidates:

  • How do you know you’ve had a productive day at the office?
  • Let’s say you were to be in this role — what would your biggest learning curve be?
  • What tools do you use to get the job done?
  • What was the biggest challenge you solved as a VA and how did you solve it?
  • Can you list 1-3 people you’ve worked with and tell me how they will rate you from 1-10?

Learn more: 11 interview questions for virtual assistants

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