The option to hire remote workers isn’t just for large multinational conglomerates. Small and mid-sized business owners can reap the rewards of hiring remote workers and freelancers also.
However, the process for hiring remote workers is slightly different than those of traditional hiring. There are more variables and more strategies you can use to find the best candidate. We’ve interviewed different business owners and hiring managers to gleam the best strategies. This article provides a practical four-step guide for sourcing and hiring the best remote talent.
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There are many proven business benefits to having a remote workforce. Yet the ultimate success and value of a business depends on its employees. Whether your team is remote or fixed, it won’t be a great team without great team members.
This article is packed with tips and ideas to help you with this. It’s not a definitive process and you don’t need to follow it step by step, but can use the ideas to flex around your own processes.
Hiring Remote Workers Is Different – Pros and Challenges
Traditional hiring usually follows a tried and trusted method, even if you accept the limitations of this method. To hire remote workers you should adopt a more specific mode of hiring. Why? Primarily because you will get a lot more applicants and these applications will be far more varied.
One major benefit of hiring remotely is access to a much wider talent pool. You’re not limited by geography and the applicants can come from anywhere. That means a broader spectrum of perspectives, skills, experiences, attitudes, and expectations (including salary expectations). It’s easy to picture the best fit for a fixed office environment, but distributed teams are advantageous because there is no definitive archetype.
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More applicants is a good thing. But you will need time-saving strategies to separate the possible candidates from the definitely nots. And you need to utilise avenues that can get your job post out to the right candidates. While you have access to a wider talent pool, this pool of talent has access to a wider and greater volume of jobs. Move through the steps in this article and you’ll see have subtleties can have a major influence on the hiring process.
Step 1 – Define Your Offer
Defining what you offer and what you want is the essential first step in hiring anyone. Hire remote workers and you need to provide more information.
Define What You Need
Remember, access to a wider talent pool means access to more varied skills, experiences and expectations. So what do you really need? Fine tune the job requirements and be specific as much as you can, either in terms of the skills the job demands or the previous experience you seek. Dig into the job specification and don’t be afraid to get technical. Specific job details will also make it easier for you to sift applications later on.
Focus on Remote Skills
Certain skills are essential for remote working and these will probably be front and central to what you need. Focus on these skills in the job specification as they separate what makes a great office worker and a great remote worker. To work independently and as part of a remote team the right applicant will need excellent:
Describe Your Way of Remote Working
Every job post provides some information about the employer. It’s usually big picture information. A good candidate will do more research about the employer to find out more details. With a traditional hire the job post will include the address of the office. Working in that office can be implied.
There are many different approaches to remote working. So to hire remote workers and you need to explain how you work remotely. Provide details about your remote working culture. Where are the team members based? How do you communicate and collaborate? Are the working hours fixed or flexible?
Providing more information will help the candidates decide if the job is right for them. Showcasing your remote culture helps candidates see how they will fit in. Zapier is a 100% remote company and has some great resource examples that can provide inspiration for your own jobs page.
Step 2 – Get Strong Remote Candidates to Apply
There’s a global talent pool but how do you access them? Having a good online presence will help you attract strong candidates, but like with any job posting, you need a mechanism for broadening your scope.
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Post a Job on Search Remotely
Search Remotely is a leading platform for remote jobs. It’s almost unique in having an absolute focus on remote jobs. Candidates use Search Remotely because they don’t need to filter or search for remote jobs – they trust that everything on the jobs board is a remote position. The platform is used by the likes of Zapier, Red Hat, Shopify and Oracle to find remote workers.
Posting a job on Search Remotely will give you access to candidates who specifically seek remote work, not just candidates who like the idea of working remotely. You’re more likely to find candidates with the necessary core skills and experience of working in remote teams.
Target Your Search
A Search Remotely job post will reach over 250k+ talented remote workers, be emailed to over 50k+ remote job seekers, and be shared on Search Remotely’s social media pages. This is already a highly targeted mode of recruitment, as you’re reaching out to a global audience of remote job seekers.
Basic job postings cost USD 69. There are also monthly subscriptions available. This will make your job a featured job on the homepage and in the job alerts newsletter. You can also make use of copywriting support to improve the job listing.
Search Remotely is not the only method you can use. Also consider targeting your job post on specific social media groups. For example, if you want a remote designer you can find a Facebook group for remote designers. Also use your existing remote team to share your job – with a distributed team you can already reach a lot of potential candidates.
Find out more about posting a job on Search Remotely.
Step 3 – Filter and Pre-Screening
The good news is that you will receive a lot of applications. If you don’t then you probably haven’t followed step one or two. Tech giant Stripe recently created a new engineering hub that is 100% remote, so it can tap into the “99.74% of talented engineers living outside our first four hubs.” Your remote job is potentially suitable to 1000x more people than the same job based in one of your offices. Which can mean 1000x more applicants! Ahh! Time to quickly separate the very good from the average.
Reject Unqualified Candidates Quickly
If you don’t reply you’ll only be bombarded with requests for updates and information. So write a simple rejection email and fire it out to all the unqualified candidates. In any hiring scenario a candidate has very little time to impress you. This is magnified when you hire a remote worker.
As with any job application you need basic criteria to help objectively compare candidates. You will only have time to glance at applications and yes, some may slip through the net. In some cases you will need to go with your gut to quickly separate applicants. You can dig deeper into their experience and skills later in the process, for now it’s just a yes or no.
Screen Potential Candidates With Tasks
Most hiring managers and business managers now add a job-related task. This should not be overly time consuming or onerous for the applicant. You need to make it obvious that this isn’t your way of getting work for free. You also need to be realistic about how much time you have to judge these tasks. Plus, it’s often the simplest of tasks that can best illustrate a gulf in quality and character.
A task can be a specific question via email. It can be a technical task based on the job requirements. You can also ask screening questions that enable candidates to provide specific examples of their previous work. Another option is to utilise pre-employment assessment software, such as provided by Harver. These are short questionnaires that can evaluate essential skills, such as communication.
Screening Potential Candidates For Your Culture and Values
As an alternative or complementary strategy, consider screening candidates based on your company and remote working culture. To do this, translate your culture and values into a set of assessment questions. Even make it a big scary long survey, because it’s better that the applicant is turned off now, than you waste your time interviewing somebody who isn’t fully vested in joining.
Usually it’s not about whether a candidate is good or not, but if they’re a great fit for your organisation. So if part of your culture is always be learning, ask a question like “what have you learned in the last year?” Even if an assessment is 12 questions long, include one key question that you assess first. This is a make or break question and will prove a really quick method for filtering applicants.
Step 4 – Interviews and Final Steps
Hopefully you’re now down to a selection of strong candidates. Conducting interviews can be really time consuming, so when the shortlist remains a long-list you may need to revisit step 3 and filter applicants a little further.
Video Interviews – Tips and Tricks
Hire a remote worker and you don’t do an interview in person. Remote working means video interviews and this has a number of benefits. By using an application like Zoom you can record interviews. This saves you from taking lots of notes and watching an interview back may be the difference between a bad and good hire.
Good internet connection, webcam and microphone is not an obstacle. If the applicant doesn’t have these how will they operate in your remote team? If an applicant can’t be professional and presentable on a video interview they are not suitable for a remote team.
Hiring managers need to make sure they limit background noise and have good connectivity, but that’s no different to conducting any virtual meeting. But you do need to be proactive in making the candidate feel at home (even though they are actually at home).
- Speak a little slower than usual – tone and pace will help to calm nervous candidates.
- Turn off background apps and alerts – a candidate will see when your eyes start darting around, or be put off by the sound of any alert.
- Sit still – it can be daunting speaking to a screen, but it’s even more daunting speaking to a figure that continually shifts around.
- Take more time to introduce yourself and any other interviewer – candidates can’t get an impression from your office, so help them along by being transparent about who you are.
- Explain the interview process before you start – this is best practice for any interview, but can easily be missed in a video context.
- Be professional and personable – this is also easy to forget in a video context. A good interviewee remembers to smile, sustains eye contact, and nods to show they’re following.
Consider a Paid Test Week
After interviewing you may be down to one, or two or even three. Hire remote workers and you have more flexibility with what to do next. The candidate doesn’t need to relocate. If the candidate is available they can start working from wherever they are. So consider a paid test week.
This is the best way to really ascertain if the candidate is both good for the job and good for your organisation. Taking this time to onboard a new employee can cost a week in salary, but that’s a lot less than the challenge of hiring the wrong person.
It may not be possible for applicants to accept a paid test week, due to their existing work requirements. You can also consider a paid freelance project, a small project that can help you judge the candidate’s suitability.
Before signing contracts you need to be honest and open about the conditions and contract. It’s best to do this face to face, via a final interview. The candidate will have questions and expectations, plus you need to start collaborating from day one.
Use Search Remotely to hire remote workers. With one job post you can access over 250k remote workers and some 50k remote job seekers.