Remote Hiring in 2021 – Your Step By Step Guide

  • November 16, 2020
  • by Kate Kurzawska
  • No comments

Remote hiring is becoming the new normal. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related risks, many companies decided to implement remote work as a standard way of working. And one of the aspects of this work style is remote recruitment.

To help you make remote hiring effective and find the best talents, we’ve created a comprehensive guide.

Table of contents:

  1. Documenting the Remote Hiring Process
  2. Questions and Decisions
  3. Preparing a Hiring Strategy
  4. Recruiter Screen – How to Interview Candidates?
  5. What Skills Should You Look for?
  6. Tools to Use During Remote Interview Process
  7. Remote Hire – Mistakes to Avoid

Documenting the Remote Hiring Process

Remote hiring is almost similar to the conventional one. With one major difference – it happens in a fully-remote mode.

It is a complex process since it requires the right approach and specific measures. So to set up an effective recruitment method for remote employees it’s best to document the entire process, from hiring decisions to onboarding.

This will help you shed light on the needs and requirements, bring clarity to the hiring process, and prevent making mistakes.

It’s not a difficult endeavor but if you’re doing it for the first time, it may be a bit confusing. Especially, if your company has only recently transitioned to the remote work style. How to choose the right candidates? What to look for? What tools to use? Who should be engaged in the recruitment process?

There are several steps you should take, one by one, to come up with the right hiring strategy for your company.

Questions and Decisions

Let’s start with the basics. The first and most important step prior to hiring remote employees is to ask yourself (or the company) the question of why you want to hire remotely?

Is it because you’re overworked or there are too many tasks and projects in your team? If yes, set your priorities straight, organize workflow, and drop the thought about hiring new people. It’ll only add more work.

On the other hand, if it’s because your company needs a person responsible for a specific job, then you should start thinking about what you want the person to be doing.

It can help to write down an assessment criteria when considering such a decision:

  • Responsibilities of the candidate
  • Goals to achieve to measure success and progress
  • Skillset
  • Timezone and flexibility – is your team okay with working in asynchronous communication?

Making a decision is a crucial step. Hiring a new employee should bring value to the business not add more work and cost.

Preparing a Hiring Strategy

Now that you’ve made up your decision, you can set up the strategy. Basically, it’s not different from the regular hiring process. The only addition is the remote element and related aspects.

So let’s get through it one by one so you can develop a well-structured plan for hiring the right candidate.

1. Talk to your team

Before you start looking for the right candidate for the remote job, consult the decision with other people. It may be a manager, a CEO, a team member, or the entire team. Talk to those who will be working directly with the person and aks for their feedback.

Who do they see as the right candidate? What skills and competencies should the person have? What role will he or she have?

It’ll eliminate a lot of guesswork and speed up the recruitment process.

2. Determine the recruiting budget

According to the study by Glassdoor, hiring a new employee costs about $4,000 and takes 24 days. Usually, the budget includes fees for outsourced services, background checks, investing in the right tools, and other expenses.

So make sure not to get carried away with the budget. But also don’t limit it to the minimum.

Be realistic and calculate the numbers so you know what to focus on. And leave room for unexpected expenses to be prepared for different situations.

3. Create a strategy for managing the workflow

Having a workflow management strategy will help you organize the recruitment process. It’ll also ensure smooth information flow.

A great lifesaver is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It handles all the ‘paperwork’ and significantly shortens the workflow by automating tedious tasks. You can also use simpler tools like Trello, Slack, or simple project management software to stay connected with your team during the recruitment process.

4. Set remote HR team

It’s not easy to choose one person for evaluating all the candidates. That’s why it’s a good idea to assign specific people for distinct evaluation:

  • Have someone evaluate candidates whether they fit the company culture
  • Have someone evaluate candidates’ skills and competencies
  • Someone responsible for contracts, administrative, tasks to ensure law-compliance
  • Have other employees check job description not only for mistakes and consistency but also to gain a different perspective

You may engage members from different teams to ensure you’re choosing the right person.

5. Define the company’s vision of remote work

You need to define your company’s standpoint on remote work so both you and the employee-to-be know what to expect and what’s the culture in the organization:

  • Is your company a nice place to work at?
  • Where do you see new people within your organization?
  • Do you work in different timezones?
  • How much time should be spent online, offline, or on particular activities?
  • How much independence is allowed?

You need to be precise about it so the recruits know what to anticipate. Remember, it’s all about fostering a productive place and supporting employees in their career.

6. Set specific criteria

Setting criteria will enable you to accurately assess every candidate.

It can be delivering a thorough and precise resume with a cover letter, references from previous employers, portfolio of previous projects, taking a technical exercise for tech, IT position, or other task.

It will let you recognize the professional background and attitude, and eliminate those applicants who don’t fit with the company culture or don’t have the proper expertise. It’s also helpful in making background checks.

7. Prepare job description

That’s the last step that should be the summary of the entire hiring strategy. Preapare a concise, professional job description.

Here are the elements to include that will help to attract top talents

  • Tell company story (just make it short, no one wants to read an essay)
  • Describe the remote status
  • Include the company’s mission, vision, and values
  • Be transparent with expectations and requirements
  • Put the salary in your job description
  • Promote job ads and place them in the right places to get to the right people
  • Describe the benefits – medical benefits, necessary tools and equipment you provide, etc.
  • Use positive, convincing language

💡 PRO TIP: To make the job description more friendly, engage your marketing department. They’ll help you make it visually appealing, and create engaging content.

Recruiter Screen – How to Interview Candidates?

Once you’ve collected resumes and finished filtering all the candidates, it’s time to go to the interview process.

How to do it in a remote environment? There are five things that can help you smoothly interview everyone no matter their time zone and location.

Use skill test

Skill tests are becoming more popular and can be of great value when hiring remote workers. They allow you to assess candidates’ skills at the beginning and decide if they should move to the next phase.

This is how they do it in Balsamiq, a wireframing app:

First we create a very long and detailed form that’s meant to replace the first hour-long interview. It’s intense and should take about 30 minutes to complete. This alone filters people quite a bit. We don’t ask for age, sex, a photo, LinkedIn URL or even a CV at this stage: this ensures we focus on people’s answers instead.

Use skill tests for the preliminary assessment to save time and money on the recruiting process.

Engage team in the video interview

Online interviews are crucial. And you can make them more effective by engaging other people. You can make it a two-step process during which the applicant talks to HR department and then to a manager, or a team member. Or you can make it a group meeting.

The purpose of such a video interview is to provide the candidates with more information about the role, company, and the way it works.

Additionally, it helps to gain a broader perspective to better assess the applicant.

Reserve questions time

Don’t make the interview a one-side activity. The procedure of hiring remote workers should be focused on centering the experience so you and the applicant can know more about the organization, and you, about the applicant.

Things that seem obvious to you may not be for the candidate.

Humanize the experience

The applicant, in most cases, will be nervous. Think about your job interviews, do you remember how you felt? Being stressed is natural so make the meeting a positive experience.

Try to make it as conversational as possible, negotiate the conditions over a cup of fresh coffee. Show that your company is a friendly and flexible place to work at.

Onboarding

Onboarding is an important part of recruiting remote employees. It allows you to show the chosen talent how to work remotely, meet other employees, get to know the technology you use in the organization.

Make sure you have enough time and budget for the newly-hired to get acquainted with all the processes and organizational structure.

What Skills Should You Look for?

Remote jobs require certain abilities. Even if the future employee meets all the company needs, without the right skillsets, it may be hard to work with such a person.

Here are the crucial skills to look for in remote employees.

Great communication skills

Employees need to collaborate and communicate with each other and provide real-time updates on their work to always know what’ happening and ensure a smooth workflow.

Communication is the most important skill in telecommuting and one of the most sought-after competencies:

“It’s so crucial for anyone working as part of a distributed team to have great communication skills and that can be obvious from the first couple of interactions. Anyone who writes a clear, well-presented note and includes all the requested enclosures with their application is going to get our attention. Even more so if they reply in a timely manner to our initial response. A confused (or confusing!) application email, with missing enclosures (no CV or cover letter) is a sign that an applicant is not going to follow written instruction well and is not going to give clear updates on project status.”

Beutler Ink, a digital content development agency

Good time management skills

Some of the biggest challenges of working from home are organizing your day productively, staying focused, and not falling victim to distractions.

Your remote workers should be disciplined, well-organized, and good at managing their workload so they can deliver projects and tasks on time.

Strong interpersonal skills

The yearly survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council™ (GMAC™) reveals that communication and interpersonal skills are critical hiring qualifications for employers.

Flexible work hours may be tempting even for the top talent but it doesn’t mean she or he has what it takes to work effectively in this particular environment.

Look for people with such skills as teamwork spirit, diplomacy, active listening, non-verbal communication, respect, responsibility, friendliness, humor, focus, empathy, conflict management, emotional intelligence, etc.

Proactive approach

Working remotely brings a certain level of independence. And that creates a great opportunity for creativity, initiative, and self-direction that remote employees should possess as opposed to waiting stagnantly for new assignments.

In a remote setting it’s vital to hire proactive, curious people who won’t wait to be told how to do things. That’s why one of the most important things we look for in interviews are “Jacks & Jills of all trades” – people who take ownership over learning new skills.

Doist, creators of Todoist and Twist

Willingness to learn

Working remotely isn’t just about having a flexible schedule and ability to work from bed, coffee shop, or home office. As with any other position, it requires motivation and willingness to grow and develop new skills.

Look for knowledge-hungry remote employees who want to boost their career, learn new things, and be productive. Remember, when employees are happy and satisfied, so is your customer.

There is nothing better than watching employees grow with the company.

Tools to Use During Remote Interview Process

When you have all procedures set in order, it’s time to look for tools dedicated to a flexible and remote environment so both the recruiters and recruits can feel comfortable.

Here are some tools that can help:

  1. TimeCamp – a time tracker that lets you track time and money spent on the recruiting process
  2. HeySpace – task management app with chat that lets you collaborate with other teams, invite candidates to the workspace, and manage the interview procedure in one place
  3. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype – popular platforms for video meetings that let you connect with the candidate at any location
  4. ATS – Applicant Tracking System – a platform forstoring all data and resources necessary for hiring to quickly search for all the information you need
  5. Spacetime – time zone converter if you’re recruiting people from across the world
  6. Plum.io – talent resilience platform that accurately quantifies human potential at scale, then maps personalities to opportunities where they’ll thrive
  7. Lever – all-in-one recruiting app that centralizes all candidate data and automates manual workarounds
  8. Weirdly – talent assessment platform providing candidates with a high-quality experience 

Additionally, using these tools will help the potential remote employees to get accustomed to the technology you use at the office.

Remote Hire – Mistakes to Avoid

When hiring remotely, it may happen that things can go wrong. While smallish mistakes will go unnoticed, those bigger ones may negatively affect the budget and even the entire business.

Take a look at the three most common mistakes to avoid in remote hire:

1. Too long hiring process – prolonging hiring activities will drain your budget and scare away the candidates. Be quick, proactive, and effective before someone else takes over your talent.

Recruiting remote staff? Control your time and budget during the interview process with TimeCamp - sign up for free!

2. Not providing feedback – Candidates don’t like it when they don’t hear back from companies as they’d like to know where they could improve. As a result, they’re more likely not to recommend your company to other people, which leaves a bad mark on your brand. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for the opinions of the recruits so you can improve the experience.

3. Aiming at the wrong channels – not posting your job on social media, websites, and forums dedicated to particular niches lowers your chances of finding high-quality workers.

4. Not staying open for past candidates – they may come back to you in the future with more knowledge or be fit for another position. So stay welcoming because you never know when you’ll need more human resources at your organization.

Conclusion

According to the latest Gallup survey, 51% of respondents said that once restrictions on businesses and school closures are lifted, if their employer left it up to them, they’d prefer to work from home.

Remote jobs offer a great chance to attract top talents. So make sure to improve your hiring process to make it a better experience, remove bias, and promote diversity. 🙌

Kate Kurzawska

Kate is a freelance translator, copywriter, and a content writer specializing in time tracking software, time management, and productivity. When not researching new software, she's reading books, or spending time outdoors.

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