Although hiring remote employees has become increasingly popular and has many advantages, it also requires a tailored approach to interviewing candidates. Take a look below at our list of tips to successfully interview remote candidates – and find the strongest ones within your candidate pool.
More people are working remotely (a trend that’s been increasing for a few years now). Aside from the many advantages for employees who work from home, there are positive outcomes for you and your business. Companies often experience decreased overhead costs related to work in the office, such as costs for additional space, utility bills, office supplies such as paper, and other amenities for employees that exist in a more traditional office space. One of my prior facility administrators used to call these other amenities the “soda” fee for employees (we went through a LOT of soda during those long days and nights at a tech start-up).
You also have to come up with mitigation strategies for the risks of hiring fully remote employees. If you have not selected the right candidate for the job, there are potentially higher costs for your company to manage them and assess their capabilities. Also your ability to really help manage what a remote employee is working on and when they will be able to deliver that work can decrease (though there are a lot of tools now that you can use to help out with this challenge).
The first big lesson in hiring remote is to make sure you’re doing your best to attract as many quality remote candidates as possible by presenting your company and job requirements in a clear and thorough way. If setting up the right kind of job description for a remote role seems daunting, consider using a writing service to help you write a company presentation. Companies like Handmade Writing professionals can help you lock down your voice.
Although it’s likely that quite a few candidates will have sent a persuasive cover letter, you definitely need to check their skills and previous work experience to determine how much they really know and what the day-to-day activities were for the positions they held.
If they are working on freelancing platforms or you have found them through hiring agencies, you likely can review their profiles. You can also explore their social networks to get to know them better. Then, craft a shortlist of candidates who meet your most important job requirements and prepare for an interview with them easily.
Two things you should be sure to explore when evaluating these employees are: (1) how much they have worked autonomously in prior roles and (2) how they manage their work throughout the day with all of the potential distractions that come along with remote working.
Even when you think someone fits the bill, you still need to have a face-to-face, live interview. As you’ll be working remotely with this person, you should hold that live interview online.
This way, you can assess your candidate’s personal traits as well as their body language and how they handle the remote two-way conversation. Do they hesitate with the answer or are they self-confident? Do they answer patiently or want to end the conversation as soon as possible? Do they give you straight answers to questions or turn off the topic?
All of these can show you whether this person is self-disciplined and highly motivated to work with you, as well as whether they are capable of a good collaboration. These factors and questions will also show you whether they possess the required communication skills, which are very valuable in a remote working situation.
Reminder: a case of the jitters is not only natural but also forgivable. No matter what, the ideal candidate will likely handle the interview well and will also have the humility to own and laugh off any nervousness or mistakes they might make.
One of the most important things to effectively interview remote candidates and find the perfect fit is to ask them the right interview questions. For example, “What is the most ambitious project you have dreamed up?” “What did you learn from your mistakes in previous jobs?” “What part of the job is most exciting for you?” “If we joined our team, what would be the first thing that you want to work on?”
If you have a team of individuals working on this interview, set each of them up with a key set of questions and use tools like an interview guide builder to make sure that you get a full picture of the candidate’s strengths, opportunities for improvement, and potential concerns.
To be sure of remote employees’ skills, you can always assign them a test project or work sample test. Although some of them may refuse it, most of them will consider such a request as normal and will not mind completing the exercise.
You can explain to them that this is a part of your selection process that helps you choose the right candidate for the job and that it also allows them the opportunity to understand more about the job that they would be taking on. If convincing them that this will give them a chance to learn about your industry or display their skills is not encouraging enough, consider freelancing them out or paying them a stipend for the work they perform.
Bottom line: if they are really interested in the job and are confident in their skills, most candidates will happily complete a test project or exercise.
As you see, to be able to evaluate your remote employees’ skills and their ability to meet your requests efficiently in the long run, you may need to change your approach to the interview.
The process is not always easy, but if you apply these five tips to effectively interview remote candidates, it will hopefully be simpler and easier and you can spend your time really selecting the best candidate to ensure your team’s success.
Monique Mahler is the VP, Marketing & Partnerships at interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.