Hiring Remote Workers: Best Practices

Woman working on a laptop while reclining on her living room floor, highlighting hiring best practices for remote workers.

To hire and retain top talent, companies that typically offered little to no remote employment options will have to reconsider their position. Also, with two out of three companies reporting that their employees are more productive working from home, the data supports the premise that businesses can thrive without everyone in an office setting.

A Gartner survey of 127 industry leaders shows that 82 percent of employers plan some remote employment options. This includes hiring remote team members to access quality talent outside of their geographic location.

Below are a few best practices for hiring remote workers to help small business owners and hiring managers like you ensure your remote hiring practices yield the same results as you’d expect from a traditional interview and hiring process.

Virtually Introduce Yourself

One of the most effective best practices is incorporating video content throughout the recruiting process. Consider adding a link to an introductory video to your job listing or send the link to candidates once their interview is scheduled. Yes, they can perform an online search, but this is your opportunity to make a powerful first impression, which is even more important since you won’t be interviewing face-to-face.

The video can include a preview of your remote operations as well as the type of project management and communication software you use to keep your team connected. If not a video, consider including a link to a virtual team member page that speaks to how you keep everyone engaged.

Clearly Outline Remote Obligations

Effective communication takes on added importance when managing the interview process for remote workers. Expectations regarding work styles, availability, and team interactions may get lost in translation. To avoid such mishaps, best practices suggest clearly outlining processes, expectations, and obligations prior to and throughout the process. Answer questions such as:

  • What time zone will you expect employees to be available?
  • How flexible are the work hours (scheduled work hours vs. deadline-driven hours)?
  • How often will the team meet virtually?
  • When and where will the employee be required to attend in-office meetings?
  • How far away can the employee live from your office or headquarters?
  • Who will pay for transportation to and from the office if a flight or long drive is required?
  • Is the position permanently remote?

Extend the Interview Process

Best practices for hiring remote workers also includes extending the interview process. Since neither of you will get an in-person feel for one another, this can provide the extra exposure to the other’s personality, helping you pick up on nuances that are more readily discernible in person. You can also use activities like administering a pre-interview assessment, starting with a phone interview, providing a virtual tour of your company and operations, or even just conducting three interviews instead of two.

Three interviews may sound like a lot, but many candidates are more nervous to interview virtually than they are in person. While nerves are always a factor, adding an additional interview or two can help candidates get more comfortable speaking to you on camera.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Company Culture

You may have already learned this the hard way, but just because a candidate won’t be working with you or your team in person does not mean a good fit with your company culture is any less important.

Company culture is the collection of beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact. Culture can be shaped intentionally or grown organically and impact every aspect of business—even if you’re hiring remote workers. As a small business owner, you may be able to emphasize your company culture as a selling point for employees who’ve grown weary from working at large firms where there’s less opportunity to make a big impact.

Beyond their skill set, candidates must have the personality, passion, innovation, communication style, and level of professionalism that will complement your current team members. Or, if your company culture needs improvement, they must possess the traits you are working towards achieving.

Culture is important to candidates, too. In the U.S., 35 percent of job seekers said they wouldn’t accept a job that was a perfect match if the corporate culture clashed. Implementing best practices for hiring remote workers requires that your company culture be more than a mission statement. It must shine through to the candidates during the hiring and onboarding process.

Get Your Team Involved in Hiring Remote Workers

Getting your team involved supports a variety of the best practices on this list, including ensuring candidates are a good match for your company culture. There is a variety of ways to get your team involved in the hiring process, such as:

  • Asking your team to refer quality candidates
  • Offering a referral bonus
  • Inviting team members to narrow down the candidates
  • Mixing up who you invite to interview depending on the job opening
  • Having at least one interview with a small panel of employees

Prepare Virtual Interview Questions

In addition to your job-specific go-to questions, prepare a few virtual interview questions to determine if working remotely is the right fit for your candidate. The objective is to identify if they have the communication skills required to collaborate from afar, as well as the organizational skills, self-discipline, and time management skills to work from home.

Questions can include:

  • Do you thrive working independently?
  • Have you worked remotely before?
  • If so, what did you like most about working remotely?
  • What are the greatest challenges to working remotely?
  • What project management and communication software have you used?
  • What did you like most about the software?
  • What did you like least about the software?
  • Do you feel like part of a team when working remotely?

While you may provide some of the remote technology they need, be sure to ask a few questions that address what technology candidates are responsible for providing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it should be included in your job description. For example, a computer or laptop, solid internet connection, and a backup co-working space they can work from if the internet is down.

Ensure You’re Tech-Ready

Your virtual first impression is just as powerful as your in-person first impression. Here are a few tips to put your best foot forward when hiring remotely:

  • Ensure you send an interview link in advance, and maybe an automated reminder.
  • Use a quiet and distraction-free room to log into the online interview
  • Skip the virtual backgrounds unless your company has created a branded background.
  • Login to the interview at least 5 minutes early so you don’t leave the candidate waiting.
  • Wear a headset or earbuds and test your audio and video before you go live.

Also, consider providing the candidate with a virtual interview checklist, including what software they may need to download to access your interview link.

Use Best Practices to Build Your Remote Team

There are a quite a few unique considerations when hiring remote workers. Use these tips to get you started. Be sure to stay abreast of other trends and best practices by signing up to receive Monster’s expert insights, delivered free to your inbox.