Top 5 Interview Tips For Hiring Remote Employees

Posted by Guest Post

Guest Post by Rachel Stones

Not all positions are in-house, and trends indicate that remote employees have increased in recent years.

Without in-person interaction, it can be more difficult to determine whether a candidate will be a good fit for a position. Are they genuinely excited about the opportunity to work for the company? Do they have the right skills to do the job? To help assess your next remote candidate, use the following tips to help you hire the right fit.

Identify Your Ideal Candidate

First, know exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate. If the position requires a self-starter (i.e. they won’t be receiving direction daily) then it’s best to look for someone who has shown independence in previous positions. Did they take the lead on an important project? Are they comfortable making decisions and taking action? The answers to these questions can help guide your search.

Establishing the traits and needed qualities of the candidate up front can help you narrow your search and find someone who fits the job.

Use Technology to Interview

Don’t rely solely on emails or phone calls. Take advantage of technology and set up a face-to-face interview with your top candidates via video conference or digital interviewing. Not only will this allow you to have that “in-person” interaction, it can also save you money and time if used as an alternative to in-house interview. It can cost upward of $1,000 to field an in-house interview from an out of state candidate after flight, hotel, food and other incidental costs are totaled. Plus, that candidate gives up at least a full day of their time.

Use Skills-Based Tests

In addition to digital interviews, you can also use technology to find the strongest fit for your position by arranging personality and skills tests for candidates. If offered early in the search process, these assessments can help you narrow your search to focus on the most qualified candidates. If offered later, these assessments can help you select the best fit for your role. However, be sure to select tests that meet all EEOC laws and certify their validity (are they accurate in their assessments?)

Ask The Right Questions

When interviewing a candidate, don’t ask leading questions. Instead of saying, “I’m looking for someone who’s dependable and capable of working individually without direction for extended periods of time, does this sound like you?” instead ask, “what can you tell me about your workplace habits and traits?” Asking this type of question will generate a more truthful and organic answer. If they say, “I’m dependable and work well without constant direction,” follow-up and ask them to provide details and examples to support their claim.

When you ask a leading question, a candidate is going to know what type of answer you’re looking for and answer accordingly. If you ask probing questions instead, you will be able to discern from their answers whether they will work well in the position. It may take longer to get to the information you’re hoping to find, but that information will be more reliable.

Some more questions you might ask are:

  • Tell me about a stressful situation in your past position. How did you react? What actions did you take to resolve the situation?
  • Tell me about an upset or dissatisfied customer you had to deal with. What did you say/do that worked/didn’t work in resolving the problem? What did you learn from that situation?
  • When was the last time you missed a deadline? What happened when you missed the deadline? What actions did you take after missing the deadline?

Asking these types of questions and following up with more questions to get additional details can help you understand the candidate and their working style and habits better.

When working remotely, most of their interactions with their manager will be through phone and email. If you have candidate who can’t communicate effectively using these methods, then it’s not the right fit for them. Examine their communications with you as a start. Was their cover letter well-written? Did they have typos throughout their resume? The answers will tell you more about their ability.

Take Advantage Of Reference Checks

Request at least 3-5 references from a candidate and be specific in your requirements. Ask for references from their previous positions, not family or friends. Managers are good references as they have knowledge of an employee’s work. Co-workers can also provide insight into a candidate’s ability to work as a member of a team. If you’re given a general human resource contact, you’re less likely to get the detailed information you’re looking for. If the candidate is entry-level with little to no prior workplace experience, ask for references from volunteer positions they’ve held, teachers or academic advisors.

Follow up with all references provided. It'll be well worth the time and effort. While a candidate might sound wonderful on paper and in a face-to-face interview, it’s good to have others confirm their capabilities to know you’re getting a good hire. References can detail a candidate’s experience and help you determine if they’re capable of doing (of learning to do) the position you’re filling.

The Takeaway

Don’t let remote hiring intimidate you. Arm yourself with knowledge and technology, then use interviewing and reference checks to help find the right fit for your role.

As a writer for Built for Teams ORG Chart Software, Rachel focuses on helping small businesses succeed. She offers insight on a variety of HR topics - from hiring and interviewing, to management and employee development. She also enjoys creative writing, cooking and reading.

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