Although nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce currently works from home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, not everyone thrives working remotely. And determining who is best suited to work away from the office isn’t easy—especially during the hiring process. There are, however, some simple and effective steps you can take to separate qualified candidates from those who aren’t cut out for the job so you can hire the best remote employees.
Before the interview
In order to recruit candidates with the right skills and experience, it’s important to start with a clear and compelling job description. This should include everything from essential duties and responsibilities to performance goals and expectations. But you’ll also want to make sure applicants understand what it means to be successful in a remote position.
- Specify desired skills and qualifications. List the characteristics you’d most like to see in an ideal candidate, like strong communication, self-discipline, and collaboration skills.
- Define terms like remote and flexible. Indicate whether the position is 100% remote, if it will shift after the pandemic, or if there are certain location requirements. Then establish the work schedule, especially if it includes certain hours or time zones.
- Describe technology requirements. Include all the equipment candidates will need at home. And be sure to specify whether the company will provide these resources.
You may also want to mention your company’s core values in the job listing. Sharing this with potential candidates will make it easier to find and keep talent that aligns with your vision.
During the interview
Applicants can’t always meet in person, so the majority of your screening and vetting process may have to be done virtually. You can connect with candidates over video chat or ask them to submit a short recording with their application. This will give your team a genuine feel for their personality, communication style, and behavior. But you have to ask the right questions:
- Have you ever worked remotely? If so, what were the biggest challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
- What is your preferred way to communicate with a remote team?How do you plan on working with teammates despite the distance?
- Why do you want to work remotely? How will you stay focused and motivated in this type of environment?
Asking candidates to provide specific examples of their time management and organization skills can provide insight into how they’ll function on your team so you can hire the best remote employees. You can also require a written evaluation to see how well they follow instructions and meet deadlines.
After the interview
When your team is ready to hire, it can be tempting to move quickly into the onboarding process—especially for a strong candidate that is in high demand by other companies. Instead, take time to ensure that the new hire is a good match by offering a paid trial or 90-day probationary period. Then, you can measure success by how well they adapt to the role. But if they’re not thriving as well as they should, here are some ways to improve their performance:
- Increase communication. Adding more team check-ins throughout the week can keep remote employees on track to completing assignments and eliminate roadblocks.
- Offer cross-training. Making sure your remote employees are all prepared to handle a variety of tasks will be helpful when they need to step in for another team member.
- Monitor productivity. Incorporating time tracking tools or project management software can give remote employees more structure and improve accountability.
If all else fails, you and the candidate may have to part ways at the end of the trial period. This can be a discouraging setback, but hopefully one that will lead to you finding the best fit for your team as you hire the best remote employees.