The Guide to Remote Work Hiring for Freelancers and Their Employers

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

It’s no secret anymore — remote work makes for a great professional and personal life, and some of the most talented creative and technical specialists in the world choose to work outside the office. Business owners and hiring managers have noticed the shift in the employment landscape, are beginning to embrace remote hires, too.

In fact, some of the biggest companies in the world are now hiring remote workers on a regular basis, which will continue to make it tougher for organizations that refuse to offer remote staff to grab the best talent.

If you’re a remote worker, how can you find the best remote jobs on the market? How can you prepare for an interview for a project done remotely, and is there a difference in the hiring process between a “regular” office job and a remote one?

If you’re hiring a remote worker, how do you ensure that your candidates are both proficient at their skill set and remote life itself? How do you go about hiring someone remotely?

Since remote hiring is new for many people, you’ll want to know that the hiring process, for both candidates and employers, is a bit different than a typical, standard hire. No matter if you’re the employer or prospective employee, obviously, your remote interview will not be in person.

You can expect emails, phone calls, and video conferencing to be a part of the process — with videoconferencing in place of a face to face interview. As a candidate, you’ll have to be more outright in showing your ability to be proactive, follow up, and overall, impress your hiring manager. This is where post-interview emails, calendar invites, and being on time really counts.

During the interview process, CEOs or HR managers will want to look for someone who is a self-starter and has a propensity for self-action. This is absolutely required. Look out for warning signs like missing the interview time or being late, failing to follow up on email communication, or subtle signs like refusal to participate in a short, non-paid skills exercise.

The point is, there are a variety of skilled remote workers available, but not everyone has the right profile for remote work, so before you begin hiring for a remote position, consider the skills and the initiative that it takes to succeed in such an environment.

You’ll also want to look for someone who is proficient in written communication, since you’ll be emailing and texting most of the time. The candidate should seem trustworthy, and ideally, has a background in startup work, freelancing, or contracting. Hiring managers at seasoned remote companies like Buffer and Zapier find that most of their most skilled remote workers have worked on their own before.

If you’re putting out an ad or sourcing candidates, before you start, make sure that your job description clearly explains the role and expectations. Many times, companies will throw up a generic job opening for a designer or developer, which really doesn’t help a good remote worker decide whether they want to work for the company or not. Since remote companies usually don’t have a local reputation, it’s up to you to sell the company to the remote worker just as much as the role. It’ll be easier to get the best remote workers this way.

Great places to source excellent remote candidates include people you’ve worked with in the past, or a remote worker or freelancer that’s recommended within your colleague network. Ask your team members to help with sourcing, post on a job board, and share that you have open positions on your social media platforms, email marketing, and websites.

Make sure you reject unqualified candidates quickly and kindly. It’s always best to let your freelance candidate know as soon as possible so they can continue looking for work. It’s also polite and makes your company look good! A short, personal, positive email can tell the candidate that they’re no longer in the running, but invites them to continue to reach out in the future. Always keep the lines of communication open! After all, they may be a fit down the road.

Invite your top three remote workers to a video call interview. Potential warning signs are individuals who are late to the interview, are not savvy with online communication, are poor at following up via email, or aren’t flexible with interview time.

Finally, put your top candidates to test with a small project. If they’re still interested, they’ll participate. Don’t make it take up too much of the remote worker’s time, but have them complete a small test on a development platform or engage with a current employee on a task to test their skill sets. If it’s more than an hour or so, consider paying the candidate for their time.

For the remote candidate looking for a position that fits, browse sites like We Work Remotely, FlexJobs, and, which contain serious inquiries and position offerings from employers that want freelance candidates.

Like we mentioned, some of the largest corporations in America hire remote, including Dell, American Express, Aetna, SAP, CyberCoders, Apple, IBM, Salesforce, GE, Symantec, and Microsoft. Check out their job openings as well. Remote jobs are also popping up more on the bigger search engines like Indeed and LinkedIn Jobs — but make sure you are dealing with a reputable organization that knows what it takes to be a remote employer, too. In this new and exciting digital working landscape, everyone needs to meet each other halfway.

Damian Samolej