6 Tips for Interviewing and Hiring Remotely

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CliffYour company has just adopted a flexible work program and is now planning to create some remote positions. Up until now, though, the bulk of the hiring you’ve done has been of the office variety. It’s important to keep in mind that interviewing and hiring remotely is quite different from hiring workers who will punch in and out of an office every day.

Spruce up your remote hiring skills with these six tips:

1. Score Some Face Time

Almost all of the remote companies that completed the Remote.co Q&A  said the same thing: Conduct your interviews via video chat and Skype.

“The interview process is entirely through video conferencing,” agrees Summit CPA Group’s Jody Grunden.

This isn’t to check out what your potential employee looks like so much as to test their confidence speaking (virtually) with you. You’re also looking to see how tech-savvy they are (e.g., Do they know how to use videoconferencing tools? Is their Internet slow?).

Video interviewing also gives you a glimpse into what a candidate’s home office looks like. If you spy a slew of papers and other messy items behind your potential hire, it might make you think twice about bringing them on board.

2. Introduce Candidates to the Team

While you might think it’s unnecessary to introduce an interviewee to key members of your staff, for most remote companies, that’s an integral part of the interviewing process.

“The candidate speaks to HR first, who fully vets them as qualified, desirable potential team members before arranging a call with us, the owners. In some cases, we will even take it a step further and have the candidate interview with other team members they would be working closely with to ensure a ‘good fit,'”says Carrie McKeegan, cofounder of Greenback Expat Tax Services.

After all, you want to get everyone’s opinion on the job seeker and ensure this new hire will mesh seamlessly with not only you, but the rest of your team as well.

3. Write for Remote Success

NotebookNo matter what the position is that you’re hiring for, a remote candidate must have strong writing skills.

“Strong written communication skills are necessary in a remote role, so ​it’s important to incorporate some writing exercises into your interview process,” says Kristin Thomas, director of employer partnerships at FlexJobs.

Since you and your future employee will communicate most often through emails and instant messages, it’s imperative that your employee is an open, forward-thinking communicator with strong writing skills to boot. That way, nothing will get lost in communication!

4. Know Your Style

Some remote companies rely solely on videoconferencing when communicating with their employees. Others favor email. No matter which one you choose, you should incorporate your communications style into the remote interviewing process, recommend Sara Rosso, marketing manager, and Lori McLeese, head of HR, both of Automattic.

“We conduct [interviews] largely via text chat,” say Russo and McLeese. “It’s a good introduction for the person interviewing about how we communicate (very heavily text-based), and this also allows us to interview people in different time zones no matter where the interviewer is located.”

5. Be (Brutally) Honest

Chances are, your job candidates would love to know some of the ins and outs of working at your company — and what it’s really like to work there.

Some bosses, such as Chuck Vadun, communications director at Fire Engine RED, give them that opportunity — literally.

“Final-round candidates have the ‘Why You Don’t Want to Work Here’ (WYDWTWH) call. It helps the candidate better understand our virtual environment, and provides him/her with full disclosure of what it’s like to work at Fire Engine RED,” says Vadun. “On the call are three or four team members, usually from outside the department the candidate would be joining, and excluding the hiring manager. It’s not a ‘cheerleader’ session; team members are honest and upfront about the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

While you might wonder why a company would want to reveal its faults, so to speak, this is an excellent interviewing strategy. It not only gives potential hires a true glimpse into what it would be like to work for your company, but it also eliminates any weak employees who would ultimately not be a fit for your company.

6. Don’t Rush It

BeachSure, you have a remote position that needs filling, but it’s a smart move to take your time during the hiring process. That’s what Toggl CEO and founder Alari Aho  thinks.

“We have a principle: Hire hard, manage open. We are not in a hurry when hiring people,” Aho says. “A wrong decision means months of agony. We look for people who can first and foremost operate independently. And then as team members. We want people who do not need to be spoon-fed and [who] like to take charge of their own work.”

Hiring a remote worker might mean tweaking your typical interviewing style. By being aware of your company’s needs, looking for someone who fits in with your company’s culture, and providing some sort of test, you can ensure that you’re hiring the ideal candidate for your company — every time.

Readers, what tips do you have for interviewing and hiring remotely? Tell us in the comments below!

By Brie Reynolds