If you’re just beginning to explore the realm of virtual work, you probably have a certain level of anxiety about the hiring process. Like any good leader, you know the positive impact of hiring the right candidate and the negative implications of onboarding the wrong person. The anxiety that comes from hiring a virtual employee is the same that traditional employers have. But, it’s amplified by the fact that remote workers won’t be physically present in a traditional workspace.
Will she understand our culture? Will he deliver an excellent product? Will she be accessible like the rest of my team?
If you’ve asked those questions, know that your fear and anxiety are totally justified. In fact, we’ve all been there before. The only difference is that we’re on the other side of one of the best decisions a company, especially a non-profit, can make: hiring remote workers! We’ve learned an amazing truth along the way: a lot of potential problems can be squashed with good interview questions and techniques.
Whether you’ve been doing it for years or you’re just starting out, we present to you some helpful tips for interviewing a remote worker.
Make Eye Contact
The most important rule for interviewing any candidate is to do it face-to-face. Many organizations, new to the virtual work space, wrongly assume that a distance relationship doesn’t require face-to-face communication. It’s an essential component of hiring a remote employee. Do it via an online communication tool like Skype or Google hangouts.
Why? Communication skills are a must-have in the world of remote work. Whether it’s written or spoken word, good communication makes up for the lack of proximity. When you’re interviewing a candidate, do it over video. You can learn a lot about his or her body language, ability to share ideas, and confidence to converse online. A perk is that you might also get the opportunity to see the person’s workspace!
Ask the Right Questions
There are two key characteristics of a quality remote employee according to Forbes.com.
The first characteristic is that the candidate makes important, independent decisions without the advice of his or her manager. To gauge a person’s aptitude for thinking independently, ask, “Could you tell me about a time you made an important decision without the help of a supervisor?” By asking this question, you can see a candidate’s level of self-motivation and figure out what he or thinks is an important decision.
The second characteristic of a good remote worker is an openness to feedback and constructive criticism. A remote employee should accept direct, candid feedback free from sugarcoating. To get a read on whether or not a candidate can handle this kind of radical candor, ask the question, “Could you tell me about a time you got tough feedback from a boss?” The person’s response will show either a defensiveness or openness to criticism.
Find the Right Fit
In remote work environments, according to hundred5.com, you need to be confident in a person’s values and traits because he or she won’t be around co-workers enough to naturally pick up your organization’s norms. Cultural fit is important. But, finding a person with the right skill and fit can be a time consuming and costly endeavor. There are two easy steps you can take to speed up this part of the hiring process.
- Begin with skill. Before you even think about culture, decide what skills are non-negotiable and demand each applicant meets specific requirements, whether through online testing or surveys, before a human being ever sees his or her name. This is a quick and easy way to sift through numerous applications.
- Ask pre-interview questions about culture. Along with skill-assessment, ask each candidate to answer open-ended questions such as “Describe the management style that will bring forth your best effort,” and, “Describe the work environment in which you are most productive.” Combined with skill tests, you can determine, to a certain extent, a person’s fit before you get to a face-to-face interview.
It’s essential for an employee to understand how he or she is expected to work in your organization. Remote workers need over-communication and clarity when it comes to this. We recommend two additions to your interview process:
- Decide what kind of performance indicators you will use. How will you hold your remote employees accountable to achieving goals? What scorecards will you utilize?
- Incorporate interview questions about those performance indicators. Use these questions to spark a conversation with the candidate. Ask “What kind of measurement standards have you used before?” “What system of review are you accustomed to?” “Are you the type of person to set goals for himself or herself?” You’ll quickly see if your expectations are similar to the applicant’s.
Getting on the same page with a candidate assures that you will hire someone who understands how he or she will be held accountable. In a lot of ways, this is the most beneficial tip for interviewing a remote worker.
If you adopt these simple tips for enhancing your interview process, you can save your non-profit a lot of money and time because you’ll enhance your pool of quality candidates and prevent future problems.
Let us know if we can help you enter the world of remote work!