7 must-know remote hiring tips every recruiter needs

Last updated:
July 27, 2021
December 19, 2021
min read
Adrie Smith
Table of contents

Matching skills, slowly discovering a candidate’s personality, and establishing rapport with applicants is why many recruiters get into talent acquisition. It’s an exciting challenge for many. You need great communication skills, expert questioning tactics, and genuine curiosity. It becomes increasingly challenging when you consider remote hiring.

We know there’s a talent shortage in many areas and skills. In fact, 78% of HR managers said that most skills will become even more niche in the next 10 years. This statistic alone has lead many recruiters to look for candidates further afield. And for hiring teams to consider remote employees.

Whether you’re hiring for remote roles or are a remote recruiter yourself, connecting candidates will remain a priority- no matter the distance! Thankfully, there are new tools coming out every day that can help us connect with far-away candidates. But in addition to these tools, those working in a remote hiring environment will need to keep in mind a few guiding principles.

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Guiding principles for remote hiring

1. Video interviewing is a core skill

In the absence of a face-to-face connection, video interviewing is your number one opportunity to get to know your candidates. But not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera. Let alone a video calling software prone to glitches.

Practice video calling regularly and follow a couple of simple tips to set yourself and your candidates at ease:

  • Provide your candidates with all the information they need in the interview invitation.
  • Make sure that there’s a plan B, just in case the connection unexpectedly cuts.
  • Set up your interview in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Double check all of your tech before starting the call. This includes both hardware (headphones, mic) and software!
  • Be the first to show up! Put your candidates at ease by being present when they join the virtual room.
  • Ease into the interview with chit-chat.
  • Establish a clear way for candidates to follow up with you.
  • Ensure both your organization and the candidate have secure network options in place, which will help to ensure cyber security on all fronts.

For details, follow this guide to developing your video interviewing skills.

2. Consider elongating the hiring process

Getting to know someone takes time and candidates are no different- especially when you factor in the importance of getting your hires right the first time around! But when you factor in the distance and virtual communication of remote hiring, you may want to consider devoting extra time to this process.

Sara Bent, People Ops Specialist at Hotjar, advises:

“I think we do this [five stage recruitment process] to really spend that time to get to know the person really well because once we are all working remotely, we don’t get the same amount of face-to-face time with each other. We meet each other twice a year, so it’s really important to us to make sure that we’ve got a good feel for the person before they start off with us. So for us, the difference with remote recruiting is really elongating that hiring process so we can get to know them all better.”

Whether that’s adding an extra step or booking a longer interview time slot, a longer process will help you get to know your remote candidates better.

3. Collaborative hiring should be a priority

Collaborative hiring is a great way of getting your team involved in the hiring process, remote or not. But with a heavy focus on getting a real deep dive into a candidate’s skills, personality, and experience, it may be worth getting your team involved earlier in the process for remote hires.

Future teammates will have the opportunity to assess, evaluate, and get to know potential remote hires in the recruitment process. This will help you ensure that the remote hire is a good skill fit, in addition to a cultural fit for their potential team. Make sure your ATS can accommodate multiple users and facilitates team collaboration.

4. Switch up your job promotion tactics

We all know that you should use different tactics to attract senior tech professionals than the tactics used to find graduate talent. People with these profiles spend their time on different platforms, communicate in different ways, and respond to different kinds of outreach. The same is true for remote talent.

Josh Pigford, Baremetrics Founder, explains:

“I think job boards can be pretty useful in remote hiring, but not the really big ones like monster.com or Indeed. Usually, the quality of applicants coming from those is pretty low. Even job boards from Stack Overflow and GitHub have typically not worked out that well. But I think that’s got a lot to do with our focus on hiring people who are good at working remotely. Basecamp has their own job board weworkremotely.com and it’s great. The quality is pretty high there, and it’s from people who are familiar with remote working. It’s a skill set. You have to know how to work remotely.”

As Josh suggests, your remote job description should vary from your standard in-office/onsite job description.

4 things your remote job description should have:

  1. An accurate description of the remote policy: Not every remote situation is the same. Some offices are “remote first”,  “remote-friendly”, or mixed remote. This will help you attract the right kind of remote worker.
  2. Your company’s remote story: It’s always helpful for remote employees to understand why this particular position is remote, or why certain teams are remote. This helps introduce your remote working culture.
  3. Any logistics requirements: Communicate any logistics requirements that are a result of the remote work. For example, you may need to have remote workers living or working within a certain timezone. Or be flexible to travel to headquarters on a monthly basis.
  4. Summary of your communication culture: Because they’ll be working remotely, it’s important for these candidates to know what they can expect when it comes to communication and collaboration. This will help weed out candidates who are not ready to collaborate in this kind of hyper-communicative environment.

Detailing your remote job description with these key pieces of information will help you attract the right kind of candidates the first time around.

5. Customize your question set

In addition to your standard screening and culture fit questions, there are a few additional questions you may want to add for remote candidates. Think about your ideal candidate and how they manage to work remotely. There are a couple of core competencies you’ll want to look for, including time management, discipline, communication, consistency, proactivity, among others.

Kevin Sheridan, Author of The Virtual Manager, shares his favorite questions to add to the process:

  • To test autonomous working: What did you do when a manager was absent and you had to make a decision?
  • To test personal drive: What three things have you done within the last 12 months to improve yourself?
  • To test resourcefulness: If you have a problem and don’t know the solution, what do you do?
  • To test team collaboration: How do you manage working for more than one supervisor?
  • To test communication preferences: How do you stay in touch with co-workers, supervisors?
  • To uncover their routines and environment: Describe your remote office and virtual job trial.
  • To test time management: How do you prioritize projects?
  • To test dedication to personal development: How do you stay current?

Using open questions to test certain qualities, necessary for effective remote work, will help you identify the right candidates.

6. Add a job trial or assessment stage

Not everyone uses job trial or trial day in their hiring process. But when it comes to remote hiring, trial days can be very helpful in getting ensuring the right fit.

Jeff Atwood, Founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse, explains:

“Let’s say a candidate has breezed through the basic tests, has an amazing portfolio, is an excellent cultural fit, and also passed the phone screen with flying colors. Time to get them in for a face-to-face interview, right?I’ve seen candidates nail all of the above, join the company, and utterly fail to get things done once they’re in the role. Judging work ethic and commitment is incredibly hard, even if you’re meeting with someone in person, so one can imagine how hard this is in remote hiring.If you want to determine beyond a shadow of a doubt whether someone’s going to be a great hire, give them an audition project — even before having them speak to other employees on your team.”

Make sure your candidates are capable of delivering results before they’re hired into a remote position.

7. Remember that you’re looking for a different kind of profile

Sometimes people forget that remote employees require a different set of skills and even personality traits. Your candidates will need to know how to work remotely effectively.

In an interview with Remote.co, Coby Chapple, Product Designer at GitHub, outlined a couple key characteristics for remote workers:

  • Written communication: Most of their communication will be written. It’s important that they know how to express, coordinate, and collaborate through text.
  • Discipline: Remote workers must be autonomous and complete work without the feeling of someone looking over their shoulder. This goes hand-in-hand with a strong sense of accountability.
  • Decisiveness: Working outside of the office and even in different time zones may mean they need to make decisions without someone in the office to guide them.
  • Interests outside work: Working from home can make it difficult to “turn off”. Interests outside of work can help them avoid the risk of loneliness and potential burn out.

Remote work is not for everyone, make sure your candidates how to work remotely effectively and have these key qualities.

Tackle remote hiring like a pro

Remote hiring is a trend many recruiters can’t ignore. And with a little bit of guidance, you won’t have to ignore it anymore. When preparing to kickstart your hiring plan for remote employees, keep the following in mind:

  • Develop your video interviewing skills.
  • Consider elongating the hiring process.
  • Prioritize collaborative hiring.
  • Switch up your job promotion tactics.
  • Customize your question set.
  • Add a job trial or assessment stage.
  • Remember the unique remote profile.

Read more: 7 tips for adopting skills-based hiring at your organization

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