6 Tips for Hiring Remote Employees

Remote employee working on a computer in his home office

If you’re considering hiring employees who work from home, now is the time to do it. Remote teams can be incredibly beneficial for small businesses because they

  • drastically reduce overhead
  • enable companies to recruit the best talent without being limited by location
  • are cheaper and faster to grow
  • experience less employee turnover
  • encourage workers to be more engaged and productive

Telecommuting situations also benefit your employees because they’re often able to work a more flexible schedule so they can have a better work-life balance.

Hiring people to work from home might require a slightly different process than hiring staff members who work in your office. Keep reading to learn six tips for hiring talented and productive remote workers.

1. Look for qualities that make a successful remote worker

Someone who’s working from home will need to have certain traits to ensure they’re a productive member of your team:

  • self-motivated
  • disciplined
  • highly responsive
  • tech-savvy
  • strong communicator
  • results-oriented

If someone telecommutes and doesn’t have these characteristics, they might not be able to collaborate with their coworkers effectively or get their work done efficiently. If they have these qualities, however, they’ll be easier for you to manage.

Read also: 4 Tips for Managing Remote Employees More Effectively

2. Post the position to online job boards

You’ll likely want to post an ad to online job boards specifically geared toward work-from-home opportunities, like FlexJobs. If you choose to advertise the position to generic online job boards, make sure that you’re clearly stating that you’re hiring remote workers. This will help you attract people who want to work from home because, frankly, not everyone is cut out to telecommute.

Read also: Where to Post a Job Ad

3. Pay attention to how candidates communicate

Communication among you, your remote team, and their coworkers is crucial for ensuring everyone is working efficiently. To get a feel for how well potential new employees communicate, consider having multiple rounds of interviews, each using a different communication method. For example, your first interview round might be on the phone or through video conference, but the second round might be entirely text-based. A text-based interview will help you ensure that the worker has strong written communication skills and can explain their ideas and problems adequately.

How the person communicates throughout the interview process will probably be indicative of how they’ll communicate if they work for you. If they take days to respond to your written interview questions, they probably won’t respond quickly to work emails. Or if you have to ask the same question repeatedly to get the information you need, they likely aren’t very detail-oriented. Look for someone who responds quickly but thoroughly.

4. Ask questions to gauge their work ethic and motivation

Many of the things you ask during the interview process will help determine if the worker is capable of working independently and how they’ll react to deadlines. You’ll also be able to assess their real motivation for wanting to work from home. This will weed out anyone who thinks working remotely means they can slack off all day.

To help you gauge their worth ethic and motivation, consider asking the following questions:

  • What tools and processes do you currently use to manage projects – both personally and professionally?
  • How would you prioritize your work if your manager suddenly wasn’t available for a few days?
  • What does your work environment look like?
  • When you do great work, how do you like to have that recognized?
  • Why do you want a telecommuting position?

It’s vital to remember that the candidate’s specific answers aren’t all that important. For example, by sharing their processes, you’ll be able to glean whether they’ll set up a routine for themselves or if you would need to hassle them to meet deadlines. When they talk about what their work environment looks like, you’ll be able to see whether their neighbors, family, or roommates would know that the person was at work or if they would be distracted all day.  

Read also: Do’s and Don’ts for Interviewing Job Candidates

5. Talk to the candidate’s references

You’ll likely talk to potential workers’ references for every job you post, but it’s probably even more important when hiring for a telecommuting position. If the person has worked from home before, ask about their communication style, ability to meet deadlines, and general processes. If this would be their first remote position, ask about how well they work independently and if the reference thinks the person would be productive without direct supervision.

6. Give them a trial run

Depending on what you’re hiring for, you might be able to hire someone as an independent contractor for a short time to see how they do. You could hire them to do a real project for your company so they get the chance to work with their potential coworkers and you can get a true sense of their processes, productivity, and communication.

Read also: How to Know if Your Employee is an Independent Contractor

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