Hire the Right People for Remote Work

Not everyone is ready for this hyper-productive, hyper-flexible lifestyle.

Dustin Brown
Feb 9 · 5 min read
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Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

Hiring people is hard. Hiring remote workers is harder. This nuance is missed by many hiring managers. It is easy to hire people like we always have. They come into the office and we get a feel for their personality. Next, we put them through a few technical challenges and boom, person vetted. Here is how we can shape this process for the ultimate remote worker hiring process.

The job description is where we lay the groundwork for success. Lay out the expectations early and often. If you are open to on-site and remote candidates I suggest two separate postings. This allows you to put a framework in place for the remote candidates that differs from your standard process.

Location
Be sure to list the location of the job as remote, but also include the home office location or the locations of any other office they may travel often. I’ve seen too many locations listed as the headquarters address with remote listed as an option half way through.

Working Hours
Before posting the job you need established policies for remote worker hours. Do they work the same hours as on-site employees? Do they have flexibility? Once you have established your policy I recommend listing it in the job description. We are setting the bounds of employment here but also adding in some perks if flexible work hours are in the mix.

Working Location
I’ve seen remote work done two ways. Remote workers are allowed to work wherever they like and that location can change day to day or they are required to choose their home office and only work from that location. I recommend flexible work locations. Even if flexible work locations are allowed I always put two requirements on the location. 1. It must have high-speed internet. 2. It must be quiet enough to hold an unencumbered conversation. Lay out these constraints in the job description as well. Skimping on all the details here is fine as long as they are laid out clearly in the employee handbook and the candidate gets to see the handbook before joining the team.

Job sites are changing rapidly but be sure you can set the location as remote. I’ve been surprised at the number of sites that make you list a real city. If they make you set a location other than remote I would pass on posting on that site. Better to cull the herd at the application process than during interviews.

I recommend a three part interview. We want to see how the candidate handles communicating remotely and how they interact with the team. Use the same meeting system you use day-to-day with your candidate. I am also very clear in the interview request that this is a video interview and they should be in location suitable for that. This replaces the more traditional phone screening. I use this first meeting to evaluate their communication style and their ability to relate over video. Being personable over a video call is a skill a surprising number of people lack. For the second stage I once again use a video interview but this time it is a collaboration with the team to solve a problem. This is similar to a traditional technical interview but instead of putting the candidate on the spot it is a true team task. This allows the team to evaluate how the candidate fits with all of them and how they are able to communicate over video in a group. I’ll go over the final stage below.

When assessing the soft skills of a candidate I like to add a few extra questions for remote candidates. They aim to figure out their passions and how they manage a work-life balance. We want to hire passionate people but also those who know when to take a break and refresh.

Recommended Questions

  • What do your friends see you as the go-to expert on? (Searching for non-job related answers. Once you get an answer dig a bit deeper and have them explain why they are seen as the expert.)
  • What is your proudest accomplishment? (Be prepared for an awkward silence. This one hits hard. We want to see what they value, but also that they can see success and have pride in the work they have accomplished. This is critical with remote employees. If they can’t see the value they are adding they will burn out quickly and jump ship.)
  • Tell me a little bit about your latest passion project? (I want to know what excites them. Ideally you see the twinkle in their eyes at this point. What did they pull their last all-nighter for? Working hard out of passion shows that if you can motivate the team this candidate will remain engaged and prosper.)

This is the last step of the interview process. If you have a main office this is the place to meet. We want to make sure that they are able to meet the requirements for travel later on. I like to get remote teams together in real life at least once a year. You don’t want a candidate who always has an excuse for why they can’t travel. You also want to make sure they can hold their own one on one. I like to trust people but in a remote interview they could always be relying on an outside source for information or otherwise be misrepresenting themselves.

Now that you have found the right candidate it is time to get them acclimated to the team. I like to bring the entire team on-site if possible for their first week. This allows the team to bond and for some quick spin-up of skills and knowledge.

Now that you have made the perfect hire it is time to polish up your remote work policies. Check out the 5 Dos and Don’ts for Leading Remote Workers for more info on dialing in the ultimate remote work environment.

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Dustin Brown

Written by

A Mountain obsessed flatlander and amateur futurist writing about everything from the latest remote scrum team leadership strategies to vintage car restoration.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +718K people. Follow to join our community.

Dustin Brown

Written by

A Mountain obsessed flatlander and amateur futurist writing about everything from the latest remote scrum team leadership strategies to vintage car restoration.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +718K people. Follow to join our community.

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