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More companies are tapping the global talent pool and increasing the adoption of remote work arrangements. A recent study shows that 59% of employees who have the option to work from home are now choosing to work remotely. Remote work is here to stay and more employees will want to be with companies that advocate flexible working arrangements. This requires leaders to tailor their management style and hiring practices to successfully adapt to the demands of a remote work environment.

Hiring remote employees requires a different perspective and strategy. However, we see companies using their “tried and tested” in-office recruitment strategies to build their remote team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out as well as they expected. In this article, we discuss the most common remote hiring mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Common Remote Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Not Having Face-to-face Interviews

If you’re thinking that a face-to-face interview is not needed when hiring remote employees, you’re wrong. Just because you won’t be seeing them while they work doesn’t mean you will leave it up to resumes and chat conversations to make the decision. Resumes and write-ups don’t always convey what you need to know about your prospective remote hire.

Having facetime with someone you’re interviewing helps you assess whether they’re fit to work remotely or not. It helps you evaluate their communication skills and lets you get an idea if their personality and work ethic fits into your company and team culture. While in-person interviews are not always feasible when hiring remote employees, video conferencing should suffice. Make sure you use a reliable video conferencing tool and network connection for a seamless interview experience.

Hiring Based on Rate

Hiring remotely opens you to more talent options with varying levels of skills and rates. While it’s tempting to choose a candidate who asks a lesser amount than another candidate, the cost is only one factor when hiring remotely. The cost you may have “saved” by hiring cheaply can have adverse consequences in terms of talent, work quality, and culture fit. I’m certainly not saying that those who ask for lower compensation aren’t going to deliver good work.

My point is not to make rates your primary criteria for hiring remote employees. You need to look at their proficiency, work ethic, and remote work readiness. As for the rate, it’s good to have a budget that you think is reasonable enough to attract someone who’ll be a good addition to your team. The saying, “You get what you pay for,” can certainly apply when hiring remote employees as well.

Not Testing for Remote Work Readiness

Not everyone is built to work remotely. Someone might be a rockstar in-office employee but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be acing remote work too. Working remotely requires self-organization, focus, time management, and career passion. Remote workers need to have an internal drive to get things through. When hiring remote employees, ask them about their previous remote work experience.

Ask them behavioral questions that would help you gauge their suitability for remote work. This will also help you assess their communication skills which are very important when working with a remote team. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Where do you usually work remotely? Do you have a specific space at home to do your work?
  • How do you deal with distractions while working remotely?
  • How do you stay focused and motivated?
  • Can you give scenarios from your previous remote projects or jobs when you worked independently? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
  • How do you handle multiple projects and deadlines?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with your remote team on a project. What difficulties did you encounter and how did you manage them?

While technical skills and proficiency are important, soft skills are equally important in remote work. When you find someone who’s strong in both areas, then you’ve got yourself a potential remote work rockstar.

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Not Taking Advantage of Paid Skills Tests

While resumes and interviews are good tools to assess prospective remote hires, there can still be instances when you find out that they’re not suited for the job after you’ve hired them. A skills test can help you get a better chance of hiring someone who is well-suited for the job. After reviewing their resumes and getting them on an interview, come up with a shortlist of candidates that you want to move forward with the skills test. The skills test should be a task that’s exactly what you want your remote hire to do on the job you’re hiring for. Make sure that you have detailed instructions on what to do and what your expected output will be.

Now, not everyone will want to move forward with this because they will have to invest their time and effort. So having a paid test will entice those that really want to prove themselves worthy for the job to move forward. You might think that this is another cost you have to pay. But think of the cost you would have incurred when you hired someone who can’t do the job you want. I imagine that would be much more costly than a paid skills test.

Relying on One Talent Source

Hiring remote employees is made easy by numerous portals and remote work platforms online. Just post your job and remote employees will apply by the dozens. But not all remote work sources are created equal. While generic remote work and freelancing platforms, like Upwork and Freelancer.com, can give you tons of applications, a more specialized platform for the job you’re looking to fill might give you more quality candidates. A good thing to do is to mix your sources to widen your options. You may have great experiences with a generic remote work platform but also consider getting applications from the niche ones. This will help you compare multiple sources and see which ones can give you the best possible hire for your talent needs.

Have a Proper Recruitment Process to Hire Remote Staff

Having a formal and organized recruitment process is crucial in both hiring remote and in-office employees. But there are certain differences and considerations when it comes to hiring remote employees because we need to pinpoint who’s ready for remote work and who’s not. Following our suggestions and tips above will help you craft a recruitment process that is appropriate for your remote talent needs. And when you’ve made the hire, make sure you have an equally organized and robust onboarding program to help your remote employees ease into their teams and the company as a whole.

Hiring remote employees is a great way to diversify your talent pool while being cost-efficient. But don’t just hire remote employees for the sake of saving money. Reflect on how remote teams can strengthen your business. And when you’ve decided to create your remote team, ensure you have the necessary plans and procedures in place to successfully hire proficient and efficient remote employees.

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About the Author: Lena Boiser

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Lena Boiser is an Agile enthusiast. Starting off her career as a Software Business Analyst in 2010, she eventually performed other roles including Project Manager and IT Business Manager. When she was immersed in Agile methodologies in 2014, Lena found her way through honing her craft and eventually became a Certified Scrum Product Owner. In 2017, after 7 years of working in the corporate world, Lena started her own remote consulting practice. Today, she provides project management and Scrum Product Ownership services to various businesses including software development companies, e-Commerce business owners, and small to medium sized companies. She believes that even teams working remotely can harness the benefits of Agile in order to deliver results for their companies. In her free time she likes to write. One day she could be writing about Agile, the next she could be writing anything about fashion or travel.