Four Best Practices for Hiring Remote Workers

The last few years have redefined what companies are willing to offer in terms of remote work arrangements. And for good reason – it’s growing in popularity among employees. According to Flex Jobs, one survey found that 97% of respondents favored either to fully work remotely or hybrid work model. Other research shows that 70% of companies are looking to move to hiring remote workers, or at least a hybrid environment.

From both an employer and employee perspective, embracing remote workers is both an optimal and beneficial move. When a company makes the decision to hire remote employees when appropriate, it majorly increases employee retention, as you are giving them agency as a remote worker. You’re saying that their time and energy is valuable. With all of this in mind, the question for employers then becomes: “How do we improve our hiring process to better attract remote workers?”

Let’s take a closer look at some best practices you can use when recruiting and hiring remote workers. Keep these in mind and you’ll be sure to bolster your workforce with remote candidates who aren’t just highly skilled but also offer a fit for your corporate culture.

Pre-Interview: Distinguish Between Your Needs and Wants in a Remote Worker

While there are many aspects of hiring remote workers that differ from hiring someone for an in-person role, some elements remain the same. Prior to interviewing the candidate, build your checklist of skills, qualities, and experiences you’d like your ideal candidate to have. Sort these qualities into two lists: “must-have” and “nice to have.” The must-have list is all things your candidate needs to perform the job functions, while the nice-to-have list will be valuable but not necessary.

You’d do this with a more traditional candidate, but the fact that you’re hiring remote workers might influence what falls into each bucket. For example, in either scenario, you’d want someone who’s a strong communicator. That means something different for a remote worker who isn’t within view of the team daily. It’s more important for them to have a mastery of videoconferencing or other communication software like Zoom or Google Meet. Digital communication is a vital component to remote work, and it will be crucial to ensure that your remote employees are familiar with these modes of digital communication and conferencing.

Emphasize Candidate Centricity During the Process

The concept of candidate centricity means you’re placing the emphasis on the candidate throughout the process, centering them as someone you’re actively recruiting. You’re certainly giving them opportunities to show they’re right for the role, but ultimately, centricity is about focusing on the benefits to them. You’ll communicate that you are trying to prove yourself to them as well.

For a remote worker, this means creating the right experience for them. For one, you need to overcommunicate during the process. Keep them updated on where they stand regarding what kind of skilled talent your organization is looking for, where they are in the talent pool and interview process, and what open positions you are considering them for. Both hiring remotely and working remotely require more communication, as face-to-face conversation is not as frequent. To hire remote workers, it is important to show them that remote work will not mean disconnectedness, and further, show them that your remote workforce is an efficient one. Failure to do so could result in them pursuing another opportunity.

For hiring remote employees, it is also important to consider having multiple interviews via zoom or teams. Hiring remotely means every conversation is via email or scheduled video chat, so it may be easier to stay focused on specific conversations or tasks at hand if calls or conversations are increased. If you have multiple interviews with a remote candidate, explain who they’ll be speaking with each time and why you’re doing more than one. With hiring remote workers, you won’t have the benefit of a face-to-face interview. Helping them understand why you want to have multiple rounds remotely will allow them to feel like they’re being recruited rather than vetted or qualified. You’re less likely to turn them off and frustrate them, and additionally, you’re introducing them to your company’s remote workplace.

Focus on creating a seamless experience for your remote candidate. Provide them with a clear job description and salary range. At each step of the process, be transparent about where they stand and what the next steps look like. It’s often said that a company will never treat a better candidate than they do during the recruitment process. While this may not always be the case, they’re certainly evaluating how you’re treating them here. It’s best to make your remote candidates feel wanted.

Be Flexible and Interview Remotely

This one should go without saying, but you should obviously be prepared to interview your remote workers remotely. Ask them if they are comfortable with a videoconference over a standard phone call. This allows you to observe more of their mannerisms and body language, which can be helpful in assessing a candidate. You’ll be able to better gauge how confident they are in their responses.

If they decline a video interview and opt for a phone call, don’t hold this against them.  Communicating remotely isn’t the same as doing so in the office, so you’ll want to be flexible with how comfortable employees are showing their home to an employer they haven’t agreed to join yet.

You’ll also want to be flexible in when you can interview them. If your remote candidate has a job, you may have to interview them in the early morning, late afternoon, or early evening. You can’t expect a candidate with a 9-5 to be able to meet whenever is most convenient for you. Show some leniency when scheduling and accommodate a time that works with their calendar.

Be Open About Your Expectations for the Role

When considering hiring remote employees, determine the following: Is the job 100% remote? Are you offering a remote position for now until an eventual return to the office? Will it be a hybrid role?

Your answer to this question may vary. But whatever your expectations for your remote candidate, you need to make them 100% crystal clear as early as possible. If it is a fully remote role, say that. If it is not, say that as well. While it is beneficial for your company to offer a fully remote position to attract top candidates who may be located outside your metropolitan area, you may not be ready to do so. Or if the role will undoubtedly mean coming to the office every month, ask if the job seekers you are interviewing are open to monthly travel. Whatever your posture, the role should be well-defined for the candidate upfront, so the remote work is clear and the candidate knows exactly how flexible work arrangements are at your company.

If you don’t agree on where the candidate will be working in the short-term and long-term, it can lead to frustration and confusion later. The employee may feel as if they’re getting a job they didn’t sign up for. This can lead to the company losing out on a great employee due to a communication breakdown.

If the assumption is that the position is fully remote, state that during the screening process. If the remote candidate moves to the hiring stage, make sure to put in writing what their work arrangement will be.

The bottom line is that hiring remote workers is much like hiring someone who would sit in your office with a few important distinctions. By tailoring your staffing process to the remote worker’s unique situation, you’ll be able to identify the right people for your company and create a winning experience for the candidate that leads to more hires.