Remote workers are the future. Here’s how to hire them.8 min read
Who can blame them? Being able to work from home (or a coworking office, café, or a local park) makes life a lot more flexible than it is when you have to commute to the same building at the same time every single day.
However, employees aren’t the only ones benefiting from remote work culture. Employers can benefit from this trend, too. If employees need to come to the office every day, companies that hire them can only choose from candidates who live in the area or are willing to relocate. That’s not an issue when hiring remote workers. You can choose the right candidate for the job, regardless of where they live.
Of course, the process of hiring remote workers is different from the process of hiring office-based workers. It’s important to prepare now. Even if your company doesn’t currently hire remote workers, there’s a good chance you will in the future. These 4 steps will help make finding the best remote workers much easier:
1. Set clear expectations for your remote workers
Communicating with employees that you don’t share an office with isn’t as easy as walking down to their cubicle. Although email, smartphones, and apps like Slack and Zoom will help you manage a dispersed team, you’ll still have fewer opportunities for face time with remote workers.
That’s why it’s important to set extremely clear expectations from the start. Make sure your job description is thorough, specifying the exact duties a potential employee will have, as well as the experience you’re looking for. Reiterate these points during all interviews with remote workers, and throughout employee onboarding in those critical first 90 days.
The more you clarify exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate, the greater the odds you’ll attract candidates who actually have the right qualifications. This doesn’t mean that you can stop “managing” remote workers after they’ve been hired, but setting clear expectations is vital for a high-performing team.
2. Prepare test assignments for strong candidates
Again, you won’t have as many chances to check in on new remote workers as you would with traditional hires. Your job will be much less stressful if you’re thoroughly confident the person you hire for a given position is qualified for it.
Giving strong candidates one or two test assignments can help establish trust. What’s most important is that the assignments test multiple skills you need a remote employee to have.
For example, you may want to know that a candidate has certain technical skills, is able to follow directions, and can manage their time effectively. You’d assign them something that requires technical knowledge, has clear and thorough directions, and must be submitted by a reasonable but strict deadline.
Be sure to discuss deadlines with candidates before setting them. You want to test their time management skills, but you also need to consider the fact that they probably have their own tasks to complete for their present employer. Be empathetic and understand that they want to honor their pre-existing obligations. Integrity is also a value that every employer should seek in remote workers.
Don’t forget to create an official grading system for these assignments. Their purpose is to let you know if someone is qualified for a particular job. If you simply grade them based on your general feelings about their performance, you’re not using sample assignments effectively. You need a clear rubric that allows you to assign scores to candidates based on strict expectations, not bias.
Of course, none of that means you should rely solely on the test to decide who gets the job. It’s also crucial to pay attention to whether you think someone will be a good fit for the company culture.
3. Get face time for interviews if you can
Knowing if someone is right for a job may not be all that difficult. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 87% of employers know if someone is right for a job within the first 15 minutes of an interview.
That said, it’s a lot harder to make that kind of judgment during a phone interview. Body language experts point out that approximately 93% of human communication is actually nonverbal. Everything from the way someone dresses to their subtle body language cues can tell you a lot about them.
Don’t deprive yourself of this opportunity! Yes, when you hire remote workers, much of your communication will occur over email, phone, or video (and for certain roles like management and leadership, you will want them to meet the team in person). You need the chance to talk with someone face-to-face in order to get a sense of their personality.
Even someone with the right job experience may not be the best choice for a role if they don’t seem like the type of individual who would fit in at your company. Moreover, if they appear disinterested during a face-to-face interview, it could mean they aren’t as passionate about your company’s mission as you think they should be.
Something as basic as the way an interviewee sits can provide you with major insights into their personality. Candidates who lean forward or sit at the edge of their chairs are often genuinely interested in a role. Candidates who slouch or lean back usually aren’t. You pick up on these cues during interviews, even if you’re not conscious of doing so. If you only speak with someone over the phone, you won’t get an opportunity to pick up on these nonverbals.
It’s also worth noting that any chances you have to engage a potential employee with your brand and mission shouldn’t be wasted. Companies that take steps to boost brand engagement among their workers tend to enjoy monetary gains as a result.
One problem that can occur is exposing remote workers to your brand on a consistent basis. Employees who report to the office spend huge portions of their weeks in a branded environment. They’re surrounded by reminders of your company’s values and mission. This can be more difficult with employees who work outside the office.
Therefore, when conducting video interviews, it can sometimes help to start or end with a brief video tour of the office, during which they can ask questions and get a feel for the environment.
Yes, it might be a little awkward walking around the office with your phone or laptop, talking to a candidate while also trying to get the best shots of the space, but it’s worth it if it makes engaging job candidates with the brand and culture easier. Remember, you’re not the only one who may have an opinion about whether they’re a good fit for your company culture. The potential employee may also have feelings about that topic. Once they see the office and get introduced to your values, they’ll have a clearer understanding of whether you’re the right employer for someone like them.
4. Ask candidates the right questions
There’s going to be some overlap between the questions you ask remote job candidates and those you ask office-based candidates. That doesn’t mean all your questions will be the same. Remote workers need to have specific talents in order to succeed. You need to ask questions that are tailored to their experience in order to help you determine if they possess the talents you need in a remote team member.
For example, find out if they’ve worked remotely in the past. Someone who has already succeeded in another remote position will be a safer bet than someone who is used to working in an office.
You might also want to ask practical questions. This may involve asking a candidate to describe their home office or workspace. In your office, you can provide employees with the kinds of workspaces they need to stay productive. While you can supply remote workers with equipment, you can’t manage how they organize their space. It’s helpful to know you’re interviewing someone who takes steps independently to create a work-friendly environment.
Odds are you’ll be hiring remote workers at some point. Maybe you already have. As the remote work trend continues, you’ll need to learn how to improve your hiring practices and adapt into a modern workplace. These tips will help in your search for the best talent, no matter where they are in the world.