Chapter 2: How to Find and Hire Reliable Remote Employees

Since remote work requires shifting an awful lot of trust and accountability onto your employees, you need to make sure you find reliable people. All it takes is one person not carrying their weight to ruin an entire project and make you miss your general deadline.

To ensure that doesn’t happen to you, we’ve put together some guidelines to help you find the right candidates during your hiring campaign. If you already have your employees and you’re converting to a remote setup, you might want to consider how current employees fit into this change.

How to Hire a Remote Team That’s Reliable

As with any employment opportunity you offer, you’ll need to target certain characteristics and traits that signify someone is reliable for remote work. Hiring the best remote workers for your company is about identifying the characteristics needed to complete the work well and on-time.

What Characteristics Make-Up a Reliable and Efficient Worker?

The qualities you want to look for include self-motivation, problem-solving, good communication, trustworthiness and more. To make sure you understand exactly what you need, we’ll break those down and explain each trait individually.

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Self-Motivation:
Even though remote workers may have a manager or team member they report to, they are largely unsupervised while they work. This means it’s easy for them to get off track, be lazy or disregard instructions and guidelines.

Taking this into consideration, you want to ensure all of your remote workers are self-motivated and reliable. They need to excel at their job — not because someone told them to, but because they want to.

Determining motivation can be difficult, especially when you don’t know that much about someone, but there are some additional traits you can look for.

Work history and promotion history can tell you a thing or two about someone’s motivation. For example, how long did they stay with a particular employer, and did they have the drive to move up or advance?

You can also judge motivation based on a person’s extracurricular interests. If someone is active and motivated, they will have a lot going on in their life, such as sports awards, personal achievements, long-term pursuits and more. Do they regularly train to run marathons? If so, they’re definitely motivated.

Finally, find out how the person reacts to failure. You can easily gauge this by asking questions like, “How did you overcome significant obstacles in your work or home life?” If they indicate that they can remain focused and positive — even in the face of failure — they’re likely motivated.

Problem-Solving:

Remote workers will need to troubleshoot and solve problems on their own without guidance from management or team members. This also means they need to be motivated to seek their own answers and complete their own research — including locating resources for said research.

The best way to gauge problem-solving is to simply ask. Ask candidates how they overcame a difficult situation in the past using creative means. Furthermore, present a question or challenge that they must complete right in front of you, during the interview.

Then, be sure to discern how confident they are about their answer. This will tell you their own confidence in their ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles.

Good Communication:

It’s important to understand that remote workers are just that — remote! If they run into a problem or have questions, for the most part, they’re going to need to seek out the solution on their own. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know when it’s appropriate to communicate or reach out, which brings us to the trait of good communication and social skills.

Remote employees not only need to be able to fully emphasize their point vocally, but also through the written word. They’ll be writing a lot of emails, participating in online chats and even engaging in phone or VOIP conversations. They need to be able to express themselves clearly and efficiently, no matter which form of communication they’re using.

The best way to gauge this is through your correspondence with potential candidates. Pay attention to their resume, cover letter and the emails they send. Do they use proper grammar? Are they fluent in the language they’re using? Do they have a clear understanding of how to communicate their needs?

Trustworthiness:

This is another trait that’s difficult to pinpoint when first meeting a candidate.

Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships — even our work-related ones. Without trust, the glue that holds a relationship together falls away, and so does our effectiveness. You don’t need to get too personal with this one, but try to find out a bit more about a candidate’s personal relationships, both at work and at home.

There are also activities you can engage in to find a person’s trustworthiness, like the Prisoner’s Dilemma challenge.

What to Look For?

The characteristics and traits mentioned above are some of the most important, but they are not the only ones you should look for. There is at least a dozen — and maybe more — traits you can be on the lookout for when hiring potential remote candidates.

Some additional traits include:

  • Ambition
  • Confidence
  • Passion
  • Organizational skills
  • Creativity
  • Positivity and Optimism
  • Commitment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Marketability (as a person)
  • Detail-Oriented

How to Spot a Poor Candidate?

Poor candidates are those that don’t match your needs, or will not be suitable for a remote working setup. If they are lacking the important characteristics we talked about in the previous section, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

During the hiring process for remote workers, there are some red flags that will tell you whether you have a poor candidate in front of you or an excellent one.

  • Lack of Credible References or Verifiable Work History: Do your homework! If the candidate you’re looking at does not have a verifiable work history, or they lack at least a few credible references, you’re taking a big risk.
  • Poor Communication: How fluent are they in their primary language? Do they frequently make typos and grammatical mistakes across multiple platforms? (One or two may be excusable, but not every platform.) Are they sloppy? Most importantly, do they respond in a timely manner?
  • Unwilling to Adapt: You may have a particular setup, tool or protocol for your employees that other remote workers are not used to. Be sure that your potential candidates are willing to adapt to your methods if and when necessary. This does not mean they cannot suggest changes or better practices in the future, but there is a time and place for such a thing. You want to be sure that, even though they’re independent, they are willing to follow procedure and do as instructed.

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How to Find Remote Candidates

Knowing all the best traits won’t do you any good if you don’t know where to find remote candidates. It’s just as important that you advertise in all the right places, as well as organize and activate the appropriate hiring campaigns.

If that seems like a lot, don’t worry — we’re going to break it down. Once you know where to find them, you can start to hire remote employees for your company.

How to Entice Potential Workers

Before you can weed through any candidates — or even look at their dominant traits — you need to find some. The only way to do that is to make sure as many people know about your employment opportunity as possible.

This means coming up with an attractive job offer and advertising it appropriately. That doesn’t mean you have to follow in the footsteps of every company that came before you. There are the tried-and-true ways of finding employees — such as posting on job boards like Indeed or Monster — but it’s okay to think outside the box, too. Try using social media to hunt down potential candidates, or post something on your company blog about open positions.

Spend some time reaching out to contacts you’ve worked with in the past and enjoyed collaborating with. They may make a great candidate for remote employment or recommend another colleague who is. You can also host a local meetup, where you can greet and engage in an open discussion with potential candidates who are interested in coming to work for your company.

In almost every situation described above, however, you’ll need to be able to define every open position in detail.

Defining Your Remote Employment Opportunities

Whenever you talk about your open position or publish a job offer, it’s important to detail the role in full. Many companies make the mistake of using generic terms and descriptors to talk about a marketing, writing or development opportunity. This doesn’t help anyone, especially your potential candidates.

It’s not just about selling or marketing the opportunity — it’s about letting potential candidates know what they’re getting into. What kinds of duties should they expect? What responsibilities and deadlines will they have to meet? Will they be answering to a manager of some kind, or will they be completely autonomous and on their own?

Furthermore, you need to explain exactly what kind of things they will be doing. Don’t bore them, but do make sure they know what tasks and projects they will be asked to complete.

Tips for Finding the Best Remote Employees

Once you understand what you’re asking of potential candidates — and what kind of job you will be offering — it’s time to reach out and find some! But where do you go?

You can always post a listing on a classifieds site like Craigslist. Or, you can turn to freelance markets like Freelancer, Upwork, Elance and SimplyHired.

If you’re going that route, you might as well listen to an expert. According to Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, the best places to find remote workers are:

  • WeWorkRemotely.com
  • ProBlogger
  • FlexJobs
  • WorkingNomads
  • SkiptheDrive

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He also recommends using your product or company blog to advertise job offers. This is because — believe it or not — sometimes your readers and fans make great candidates. Generally, they already understand what you do and what your company’s mission is.

Some other ways to find candidates include attending events, like career fairs, or even hosting contests.

Hiring a Remote Employee

Now that you’ve learned a bit about the benefits of hiring remote teams, it’s time to put one together.

Hiring employees and vetting potential candidates for remote work is remarkably different than doing so for a traditional, co-local team. You need to find someone who is both motivated and responsible, but that can hold their own, as well.

Weeding Out Applicants

One of the best ways to weed out potential applicants, especially if you have a long list of candidates, is to assign a trial project. They may look great on paper, but can they actually handle the work?

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Have them complete something for you, or offer a one-time contract for a project or task. When it’s complete, you can pay them for their work and either offer them consistent work, or let them know you’re pursuing other candidates who more closely match your needs — depending on how well received their finished product was.

Obviously, you might not have enough work for all of your contract candidates, so you can structure it like a contest. Have everyone complete the same project and choose the best. You could even have candidates create different content. For instance, allow a potential candidate to write a guest post for your blog or manage your social media account for a day — or something comparable.

Highlighting References and Past Experience

With remote work, you shouldn’t be as concerned about seeing comparable remote experience on a resume. Sure, it’s great if a candidate has experience working remotely in the past, but there’s a good chance that, if this is your first remote venture, it might be theirs too. Don’t turn down potential candidates just because they’ve never done remote work before.

Instead, focus on their strengths and weaknesses as an employee. What kind of references are they offering, and are they actually credible? Can you trace their past experience back to a real company or individual? Are you able to get in touch with these references and discuss the candidate’s work ethic and trustworthiness?

More importantly, can you clearly see from their resume that they meet all the requirements of remote work? Do they exhibit the traits and characteristics we talked about earlier?

 

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