evaluating remote candidates

As more and more companies are leaving offices behind altogether, hiring remotely is becoming the new norm. However, evaluating remote candidates comes with a unique set of challenges. Even in person, it can be tricky to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for your team. With video interviews, it’s easy to overlook certain nuances that show a candidate’s true potential.

However, while evaluating remote candidates can entail some extra work, it’s definitely worth the effort. When you’re no longer limited by location, you can find talent anywhere.

Below, we’ll offer some tips for evaluating remote candidates that will help you take advantage of the benefits of remote staffing.

Look For The Right Skills From The Start.

With any given job, you’ll know the specific skill you’re looking for relevant to the role. However, when hiring remote workers, you need to consider skills beyond those needed to perform basic duties. There are certain soft skills necessary to thrive in a remote world.

When hiring a remote team, team members should be self-motivated, organized, and able to take initiative. While everyone claims to have these skills in a cover letter, how can you really be sure? There are several things to look for in a resume that indicate someone would do well with a remote position.

A history of freelance work is a good sign, as it entails a lot of personal responsibility to make a living as a freelance worker. Any managerial or leadership positions are also a plus, as it takes initiative to lead a team.

Don’t just look at job history, either. Does your candidate have a history of volunteer work? This is a good sign as it means they’re a self-starter who would have no problem setting their own schedule.

Assess Their Approach To Productivity.

There are always some generic questions on job interviews, like, “Tell me a time when you overcame a challenge?” that help you evaluate softer characteristics that may be important for a given role.

When hiring remote workers and evaluating them, make sure to ask these types of questions in relation to productivity. You need to make sure a potential employee has the right mentality to stay on task in a remote environment.

Try asking some of the following questions to assess your client:

  • What does your home workspace look like?
  • What motivates you the most as an employee?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • If you ended up working remotely, how would you maintain a work/life balance?

Ask About Remote Work Specifically.

Should every remote candidate you hire have telecommuting experience? No, and in fact you may be missing out if you only target people who’ve previously held work from home positions.

Many people only recently had to shift to remote work and are accustomed to working in the office. However, asking about remote work specifically during the interview process is a great way to assess whether a candidate is ready.

Try some questions like:

  • Do you have any prior experience working remotely?
  • How would you manage a conflict or take feedback remotely?
  • What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of remote work are?
  • How would you schedule a day of remote work?

Offer A Paid Trial Period.

When you’re interviewing someone in person, small things can say a lot about how well they’ll work with others. From how they interact with administrative staff to body language, there are a lot of ways to assess someone’s general attitude in person that you might overlook during a remote interview. This is why doing a brief trial period can be helpful.

Many companies are now offering potential hires brief paid trials, usually about a week, in which they’ll perform meaningful tasks related to their position. Keep in mind that you’ll need to offer flexible hours, as candidates may still be working full-time or be going through interview processes with other companies. A trial period should not be a full 40 hour work week, but rather 10 to 15 hours of paid work in which they’ll interact with potential team members.

However, a paid trial is not within every company’s budget. If it’s not within yours, you can also have a candidate perform a brief test, usually no more than two or three hours, to see how they approach deadlines, time management, and so on.

Keep in mind, there is a risk associated with trial periods. Job hunters, especially if they’ve been looking for awhile, may be put-off by a final test or trial run after having undergone a lengthy interview process. Therefore, use trial periods and tests with discretion. They should be reserved for cases where you really feel you need some extra insight before making a decision.

The Bottom Line

Evaluating remote candidates is never easy, and doing so remotely comes with its own unique set of challenges. However, remote hiring also comes with a litany of benefits. Taking advantage of that is vital to help your company thrive.

By looking for specific skills, asking directly about remote experience, and considering a trial period or test, you’ll be able to figure out if a candidate is a good match for your company. Building efficient remote hiring practices is vital to helping your business succeed in the new world.

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