My last post talked about whether or not you should hire people with remote work experience. Now that you know what makes a good remote employee, let’s talk about how to hire them. In a past life before becoming a business owner, I was a recruiter and I was pretty good at it. Now that I’ve got remote management experience under my belt, I have put together some tips for specifically hiring remote employees:
Post your job in the right place
There are some great sites to post your job like: We Work Remotely, Remote.co, Jobspresso, and AngelList. Some remote job boards will charge a fee to post, others won’t. Regular job boards like Monster and Indeed are most likely going to inundate you with candidates that do not have previous remote work experience. If you don’t have a budget for recruiting, your best bet is utilizing your LinkedIn network. You can post to your personal network or privately message colleagues for referrals. Most remote companies tend to find their employees through referrals.
Remote Interview style
Most companies traditionally start the hiring process with a phone screen, which is no different in a remote hiring process. Round 2 interviews and beyond are a bit different: for these interviews we suggest using video calls instead of traditional phone calls. Because of the distance, you most likely will not be meeting your new employee in person before hiring them. Video calls allow you to virtually “meet” your candidate, making the process more personal. Body language is also a big part of the in-person interview process, which you’d be missing out on if not for video. As a manager you’ll be video conferencing them frequently, so you’ll also be providing the candidate some insight into what it would be like to work for your company (video conferencing etc.)
Video tour: If your company has a centralized office you might consider giving your final candidates a video tour of the office. This is best left for later in the hiring process (no one wants to do 10 office tours per week). This really gives your new hire an idea of your office culture; it paints a picture of what your company actually looks like on a daily basis.
Ask hard questions
Sell me this pencil…You have 5 minutes to escape from a blender and you are .5 inches tall, how do you get out before you are liquefied? Are examples of questions that you should not ask. Instead, ask a salesperson to describe two or three successful deals from the last month and the process behind those deals. For an account manager, ask them to describe three difficult clients and how they handled the situation. With these questions you still get insight into how a person thinks, while also uncovering job specific information.
In my experience, nothing works better than a short assignment or test. Provide a sales candidate information about your product and give them two days to prepare a pitch. Then, have them present their pitch to you. For developers, ask them to take a coding test, and for designers, require that they show you some of their work in a portfolio.
Before I hire someone, I want to trust that this person is going to do a killer job, so I ask hard questions. By creating a comfortable interview environment, I am able to really dig in and walk out of an interview process knowing all that I need to know.
As previously alluded to, people that love their work are better bets when it comes to hiring remotely, but here are a few other elements to consider:
- Can they client face? Contrary to popular belief, remote workers are not a bunch of hermits sitting in their basements all day. You need to figure out if your new hire is going to be easy to work with and take initiative. Even though there is amazing technology, there are still some challenges with remote communication. So you’ll still to put great communication skills at the top of your requirements list. In fact communication skills should probably be even better than an in-person worker.
- Do they have remote experience? Remote workers don’t really need this, but a good secondary question to ask would be “do you have experience at a startup?”. Startups usually require workers to think quickly and often times make executive decisions on their own.
- Do they have a support system? Work can’t be the only human contact. Personally, I work remotely, but I live with my girlfriend/ 2 dogs, and I have friends/ parents all within a subway ride. It’s good to know if your new hire has interests outside of work or if they are “on an island”.
- What is their motivator? Some people are amazing at reading people, but you don’t need to be Richard Branson to see passion and excitement. Your best workers are not going to be motivated by money or stringent performance goals, they are going to be motivated by their own work. If you take pride in what you do you’ll be able to spot other people that take pride in what they do.
Wait for the right person
Hiring your first employee or first few employees might take longer than a week or even a month. No matter how badly you need someone, don’t just take anyone. If you are hiring for a junior role, someone with 20 years of experience willing to take $20/hour might sound ideal, but that person is pretty much guaranteed to quit after the first 2 months when they find the director job that they were really looking for.
Patience is certainly a virtue with this one. At times, it’s taken me months to fill a position. If no one fits the profile, just keep looking until you find the right person. Think you need someone today because your are buried in work? Wait until you onboard the wrong person, give them your biggest clients and then they leave or underperform after 2.5 months. You’re still buried with work, have invested a ton of hours in on-boarding, and now you need to start the process all over again. Most remote companies intentionally stay small and scale slowly just because they know the perils of hiring the wrong people
Red flags are bad
If you are hiring an account manager and he or she says “I don’t really like managing people, sometimes they make me mad and I need to go meditate”…this is a red flag. If your candidate says something that sounds off…it probably is. Remember, your people are your biggest asset by far – your hiring process needs to be air-tight. On the other hand hiring is an intuitive process, if someone has transferrable skills, they can certainly be a good fit. Just make sure that you don’t have any hesitations before you hand out an offer letter. In the end, it’s always best to trust your instincts.
Hiring someone is always a bit stressful, and with remote employees, you really need to trust that they are going to represent your company well. I’ll write a more in depth post (which may evolve into multiple posts) talking about hiring – it’s the most important part of building a great remote company. All 6 points aside, a genuine, tenacious person that loves their work, is a person that you should take seriously for a remote team.