How to Hire Employees that will Thrive When Working Remotely

Posted on 02-18-2021
hire remotely

Need to hire remote employees?  Here’s what you need to know to ensure you make successful hires for remote team members working from home.

Attracting and hiring a new candidate may differ depending on the requirements and the position or the industry, but generally, many of the concepts remain the same across sectors. But how does the hiring process change when your company is seeking applicants to hire remotely?

You’ll of course still want to identify high-level, talented candidates who can bring value to your organization. But what specific skills should work from home applicants possess? What other considerations should you watch out for when hiring a completely remote candidate? And how can you assess these issues during an interview?

Let’s take a deeper dive into the recruitment process and how it differs when seeking a candidate for a work-from-home environment.

What skills should you look for when hiring remote employees?

When you look to hire someone, you’re looking for a specific set of skills based on the position and the responsibilities associated with it. The same mindset applies when you’re looking to hire remote employees.  There are additional skills and attributes you’ll want a full-time remote employee that helps them succeed in a work-from-home environment. Those skills include:

Independence

As much as you’ll want to keep this employee included in daily team communications and make them feel like a part of the company culture, there will be plenty of time where they’ll need to work independently. Without being physically located in the office, it’s important for remote workers to be self-starting and motivated with minimal direction. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to give them guidance, but looking for independent workers for this spot is a plus.

Organization

All of your team members will ideally be well-organized, but it’s especially important for any remote workers who won’t have a physical presence at your facility. This moves beyond just keeping track of computer files and paperwork, though that plays a role in it. It means being able to participate in project planning. With each project, you’ll want someone who can identify a goal, create milestones and deliverables that will help it get closer to completion, and establish a deadline to finish the project. They should then hold the appropriate team members (or themselves) accountable until the project is done.

Communication

A remote worker isn’t going to be able to congregate with their fellow employees by the coffee machine. They can’t simply pop into their supervisor’s office for a chat about a project’s status. This means that inevitably, they’ll miss out on opportunities to communicate with other team members that someone in the office will get to participate in.

That’s why you should look to hire a good communicator – someone who understands the importance of establishing regular and open channels of communication. You’ll want someone who does a great job articulating their goals via phone calls or video conferences. They should also be able to design documents (i.e. memos, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) that concisely and comprehensively summarize topics or projects they’re working on.

Proactive vs. reactive

Finally, another critical skill for remote workers to have is the ability to approach their work with a proactive posture rather than a reactive one. You’ll want someone who’s looking to anticipate challenges rather than respond to them. Someone who can come to a supervisor, manager, or executive with a solution to an issue before it develops into a problem.

Other considerations when you hire remote employees

The candidate’s skill set is crucial in determining whether or not they’ll be a good fit for a full-time remote position. But those skills aren’t the only aspect of the candidate you should take into consideration. Below are a few other things you’ll want to take into account when assessing them:

Scheduling

What hours is the candidate available for? It’s important to establish that even though the individual is working from home, there will still be core operating hours during which they’ll need to be responsive. This is especially important if they’re located outside your company office’s time zone.

IT requirements

Every remote worker needs at least two things: a working computer and an internet connection. Does your company furnish your employees’ equipment, or is it a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) set up in which they’ll need to have their own computer? If it’s the latter, do they currently have a device with the proper specifications? Do they have a reliable internet connection from their home wireless network?

Distraction-free workspace

Does the employee have a dedicated space in their home in which to work? Do they have a distraction-free environment? This can be a tough topic to tackle, but it is important to make sure they’re not encumbered by family (or any other type of) commitments during the day.  Many employers are being extremely flexible about this right now, but potential employees should be able to articulate a plan for how they’ll juggle competing priorities at home and fit in their work.

How to assess critical skills during the interview process

Once you’ve determined what skills you value most in a candidate for a remote position, you’ll need to assess the candidate to figure out if they actually possess these qualities. There are a few ways you can do that during the interview process:

  • Ask them how they plan to communicate with their direct reports and/or supervisors.
  • Request work samples – specifically larger projects that involved detailed project plans. Ask them for details on the planning process. Get an idea for how they go about setting up a project as well as how they execute it.
  • Do they have experience working remotely? If so, ask them how they organized their day. This will help you gauge the importance they place on time management.
  • Take note of how they make their points. Do they do so in a cogent, easy to understand manner? What kind of questions are they asking? Are they a good communicator?

If you identify an elite candidate that’s the kind of person you want in your organization, the chances are high that they’ll check all these boxes. But the skills and considerations listed above are all key items you’ll want to address and watch out for when working through the process of hiring remote employees.

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