In today’s global economy, businesses are increasingly deploying virtual offices and with remote employees. The remote workforce benefits abound—that is, if you have hire the right employees.
In general, studies show that workers can be more productive, focused, and efficient when they work remotely. Businesses have the added benefit of being able to hire the best candidates for specific positions, rather than depending on a pool of local applicants who may not have the desired skills. Here are some helpful tips on how to hire remote workers.
Where to start?
Odds are, the perfect match for this position doesn’t live down the street from your office. More than likely, the candidate with the exact mix of technical skills, personable demeanor, email etiquette awareness, product knowledge and passion, and work schedule flexibility lives far away.
But thanks to modern technology and business practices such as video conferencing, cloud-based collaboration, follow-the-sun workflow processes, etc., all you have to do now is find the right employees. It doesn’t matter if they live in Dubai or Daytonville, Ohio.
Worldwide web candidates
There are numerous websites available for posting jobs, such as Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and Craigslist. But keep in mind that we call it the “worldwide web” for a reason; that is, don’t ignore international job sites.
Regional websites offer viable global candidates. North American recruiters should consider sites such as ProZ for all of Europe; Stepstone and Job.Heise in Germany; Infoempleo in Spain; Ua.jooble in the Ukraine; and Daijob in Japan.
Expats offer native-English speaking skills. If you’re looking specifically for native English speakers, consider sites that cater to expats. They’ll connect you to people looking for jobs located around the world and who prefer flexible and/or non-traditional work hours. Such sites include ExpatJobs, Expatnetwork, and more.
Use social media to find remote workers. LinkedIn allows you to directly search for and reach out to potential candidates in addition to searching out groups within which you can post jobs. Facebook’s search functionality is also becoming increasingly sophisticated, enabling you to find interest groups more easily. As with job posting sites, there are global social media sites such as Vkontakte for Russia and Bharatstudent.com for India, among others.
Write a credible job description. It’s essential to write a clear, detailed job description for remote workers, as there are scores of scam jobs listed online as “remote” and “work from home.” Job candidates are wary of this and may overlook your job posting if there’s even the slightest doubt that it may not be for real.
Do not use unnecessary symbols such as exclamation points, hearts, or any other symbols in the job title. Simply including your company’s name and web address in the job description is often the difference between a scam job posting and a legitimate one.
Write the job description like any other public-facing piece of content. Be mindful of how you describe the required and desired job skills. Depending on the culture the candidate originates from, he or she may interpret these skills more or less literally. Some Americans are comfortable bragging about themselves and believe they can do anything; other cultures may have people who will not apply for a job that requires three years of experience that requires a certain skill if they’ve only worked in that field for 2 years and 10 months.
Evaluating candidates remotely
You can tell a lot about how a person will function in their job by how they perform during the application process. This is especially important for remote workers, because the bulk of their job is done via written communication.
Remote candidates must be able to express themselves clearly in writing. Without the benefit of quick face-to-face clarification to smooth communication, it’s imperative that the written word be understandable and have the appropriate personal touches to build work relationships remotely.
Look for pro-active, independent problem solvers. Remote workers must know how to be resourceful and willing to do independent research on questions that arise. It’s essential to not burden a virtual manager with questions that could be easily answered with a Google search or common-sense troubleshooting.
Weed out weak candidates early via email. You’ve got limited time, as do the job candidates. After you’ve selected your top contenders from the virtual pile of resumes, send each of the candidates a list of five or so questions to answer. This will save you a lot of time and narrow down the best candidates.
Find out what drew the candidate to the job description. You can tell a lot from the answer to this question. For example, one risk can be that this job is appealing simply because of the convenience it offers. But a work-from-home position, like any other, must be more than that. The candidate needs to express their passion for the product in his/her response.
Look for thoughtfulness and enthusiasm in responses. Your questions should address top-level job requirements such as necessary job experience and schedule/availability, work habits, expectations, etc. This is your candidate putting his best foot forward and expressing himself in writing. The candidate’s enthusiasm and confidence must be portrayed. That is, he/she should knock your socks off!
As with any interview, virtual or in-person, first impressions go a long way. Hiring for remote positions requires even more diligence and screening than for an on-premise candidate.
Conduct the first interview via video call. This first video call will tell you a lot about the candidate.
It will allow you to test whether a candidate has the basic life stability necessary to have reliable internet, computer, and video capabilities. Remote teams need to have video chats occasionally to build rapport. This also proves that they have the means to schedule an undistracted work discussion at a specific time. Also, if the call goes smoothly from a technical standpoint, it shows that they either already do this regularly or that they took the time to troubleshoot ahead of time to make sure everything would go as planned.
Look for visual first impressions. A video call allows you to not only get the best first impression of a candidate, but also tells you a lot from facial expressions and attitude. Do they take this interview seriously? Are they wearing a ripped t-shirt? Are they conducting this interview from a café where anyone could listen in? Do they check in five minutes early, look put together and conduct the interview with the respect your company and this position deserves?
Video interviews also allow you to get more context from a response from facial expressions and body movement, whereas with a phone interview, intonation can be misinterpreted without eye contact, or in the case of email, there is no intonation at all.
After the interview
As with any hiring process, for onsite or remote workers, it’s important that the candidate touch base after the interview to ensure that all of your questions were answered and to thank you for your time. This is even more important with remote workers, because most of the work will be conducted exclusively via written communication. This part of the process will demonstrate how the potential employee will interact with his/her manager.
The final decision
Once you’ve identified top contenders you may have questions that are specific to the position, such as translation tests, writing sample exercises, simulated interactions with customers, etc. All of these factors will weigh into your decision.
Arrange for final candidates to be under NDA. This allows them to talk more freely about projects, ask specific questions, and prove that they’ve done their research on the product and company.
Look for demonstrated tech savviness and enthusiasm. Those who show a willingness to troubleshoot any technical issues that have come up throughout the application process and show their technical expertise should be carefully weighed. It’s essential for remote workers to be independent problem solvers. A candidate who doesn’t try restarting their computer before they ping you on Skype is a clear red flag as someone who is a potential headache for their manager.
The final offer
And now the best part, offering that position! You’re providing employment in a flexible environment for a standout worker—one you may have missed out on if you hadn’t known where to look and provided a work structure that fits their lifestyle. You’re giving your team a dedicated worker who will be a productive asset to your team and will add to the job satisfaction of all those involved.
Successfully hiring remote workers is a wonderful experience for all. Congratulations!
About the author
Chloe Swain is a Senior Community Strategist at Lionbridge Technologies. She specializes in developing international community programs for Lionbridge Games Services as well as various entertainment and software clients.