Once upon a time, I got a great job in a town two hours from where I lived. Of course, within six months I realized my folly and so suggested that I be allowed to “tele-commute” (see, it really was quite a while ago!).
The company agreed but it didn’t work out. I didn’t know enough about the business to work without direction and my boss didn’t know how to manage someone who was only in the office once a week. Within two months I was let go.
It was a good call. I was a lousy remote employee.
These days, not only are regular employees working from home, but there is a good chance your new hires will work remotely as well. Here are the six steps to hiring the right remote employee:
Know what to look for: Not all remote employees are created equal.
The ones who work out best have some combination of the following traits:
- Independent problem solver
- Great communication skills
- A strong work ethic
- Self-motivated self-starter
- Responsive and coachable
- Technologically savvy
2. Write a clear job description:
Both the job candidate and the eventual new employee will need to know, exactly, what the job will entail, what is expected, what the deliverables will be, how projects will be handled and coordinated, and what sort of check-ins and communication will be required.
3. Cast a wide net:
If you have hired before, you know the drill. You need to post your job listing on whatever sites and boards work for you, whether that be industry sites, Indeed.com, Monster, Craigslist, wherever.
And yet, while you do want to cast a wide net and attract the best people, with remote workers you also need to keep location and work conditions in mind. Are they in your time zone? Do they have reliable Internet service? Do they have a dedicated space from which to work? Will you want them to come into the office at all for in-person check ins periodically and are they able to?
4. Conduct a video interview:
One of the biggest obstacles to successful online recruitment is technology, specifically, people needing to cancel or reschedule interviews because of computer issues. To avoid this, let your candidates know well in advance what communication tools they will need, be it a laptop, a Skype account, etc.
The e-interview itself will serve the dual purpose of getting to know applicants, but also to see whether they are up to the technological challenge of working and communicating remotely.
5. Administer an aptitude test:
It might behoove you to give the top candidates some sort of test. It cannot take too long (you need to respect their time), 20 or 30 minutes is probably right, but it does need to give you some idea about their ability to work independently. A couple of examples would be to ask a sales candidate to write you a couple of cold sales pitch emails or have an accounting candidate calculate a simple expense exercise.
6. Hire, but with a caveat:
Job recruiters suggest that with remote employees, hiring on a probationary basis may make sense as it is simply more challenging to judge applicants via video.
That said, it is incumbent upon you to fully train the new staff member in both your procedures as well as your culture. Again, this is more difficult to do remotely, and as such, hiring with a caveat allows you and the new employee to work out the kinks and see if working this way together works.
The good news is that in the end, this thorough process should allow you to hire someone far better at remote working than I was.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3373-418524/steve+strauss+headshot.png an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss
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