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What to Look for in a Remote Hire

What to Look for in a Remote Hire

Hiring is always a challenging process, but the pressure increases when you are hiring for a remote position. The virtual office is becoming more popular with every passing year, as businesses realize the dramatic cost benefits of expanding your team remotely. It’s important that business owners recognize the hiring process for remote workers is entirely different from that of in-office employees. By becoming a more discerning employer, you will have a more successful remote staff and the company will thrive as a result.

A remote employee needs to be above-average in a certain set of skills. To hire the right candidate, interviewers need to know exactly what those skills are and look for them. By knowing what’s most important to a remote employee’s success, you can shape the assessments, questions, and trial assignments accordingly. I’ve recruited and interviewed countless remote workers to find the best employees for my company’s team. Here are the qualities I am always looking for.

Mastery of Self-Management

Remote workers have to be natural masters of organization, time management, and planning. While some individuals can thrive in a disorganized work environment, that simply won’t do if your employee is going to be part of a remote team. Their work impacts their colleagues’ work. Everyone needs to be on the same page, operating under well-communicated deadlines. If you have one employee who forgets a project due date, or falls behind on their duties, or repeatedly loses important documents, it’s going to set back the entire team and ultimately your company will suffer.

The ability to self-manage is far more important with a remote worker than a traditional one because remote work doesn’t have the same built-in parameters or oversight. Candidates should be able to demonstrate their organizational systems and how they manage their work hours, deadlines, and time off while working from home.

Verbal and Written Clarity

This one can’t be emphasized enough: Good communication skills are crucial. If an employee can’t communicate with their team or supervisor, it’s nearly impossible to get things done. When a person is working remotely, the ability to communicate their needs and progress clearly, in multiple ways, becomes even more important.

It might surprise first-time remote hirers just how much communication happens through body language. When you can’t sit across from a person or walk the halls with them, it can be more challenging to understand their meaning and attitude. A good remote candidate will make up for this loss of physical proximity with superior clarity in their written and verbal communications.

Furthermore, a candidate needs to be proactive in that communication. Someone who sits around waiting for someone to check up on them might be able to get by in an office setting, but it certainly won’t work with a remote team. Each employee needs to know when to seek advice or approval and exactly how to go about it.

A Commitment to Professionalism

It is far more tempting to show up to a video conference call in pajamas and unwashed hair when you work from home. Without the office atmosphere to encourage professionalism, it becomes more important to seek out individuals who are inherently motivated to be professional. Particularly if you have an employee who will be interacting regularly with investors or customers, you need to consider their mannerisms on the phone, in email, and in video chats. Do they appear confident and project their voice? Are they dressed appropriately? People tend to adopt traits associated with the type of clothing they are wearing, so a sloppy appearance can mean sloppy work.

Again, this is a quality that is easily lost or overlooked with remote candidates, but it’s highly important to any employee’s performance.

Passion for the Remote Work Lifestyle

It’s important that any employee you hire for a remote position recognizes that working remotely is a job perk, not a burden. Some people thrive in the traditional office culture and find remote work isolating and lonely. These people are going to be far less successful in a remote position than someone who appreciates the flexibility and privacy of remote work. This enthusiasm will translate into better job performance. Furthermore, a satisfied, enthusiastic employee will rub off on the rest of your team. Having a positive person around the virtual office is invaluable, so it’s important to find someone who is going to be happy doing their job from home.

Independent Problem-Solving Skills

The last thing you want in a remote employee is someone who will be Skype chatting you every fifteen minutes with a clarifying question. Remote employees can’t stop by your office for a quick chat and that changes the nature of their work. Remote work requires diligence, independence, and demonstrable problem-solving skills. It’s vital that anyone you hire is prepared to tackle problems on their own and commit to finding solutions rather than relying heavily on colleagues or a supervisor to bridge the gaps for them. If you hire someone who can troubleshoot independently, it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Finding someone who has all of these qualities might not be easy, but by hiring remotely you have greatly expanded your talent pool. You have access to the best in the world — it’s just a matter of finding them. Seek out the people who excel in these areas and you are sure to create a cohesive, productive remote team that will serve your company well.

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by Simon Slade // Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training community; SaleHoo, an online dropship and wholesale directory; co-founder of Smtp2Go, an email delivery service and investor in SwiftMed, a virtual GP clinic. Through these companies, Simon provides the education and resources for ecommerce professionals to start their own businesses and achieve occupational independence. Simon can be followed on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.