Dos and Don’ts for Hiring Remote Workers

ThinkstockPhotos-89880706If you’ve been a recruiter or hiring manager for a while, you’ve done your fair share of hiring. You might even have mastered the ability to spot the best candidate for each job simply by reading the job application alone. But what about hiring remote workers? There’s a big difference between interviewing — and hiring — an in-office employee as opposed to a virtual one, and relying solely on your tried-and-true hiring tactics may not be the best approach. Here are some tips and strategies for hiring remote workers.

Be descriptive. If you’re planning to hire a remote worker, your company probably has some sort of work flexibility program already in place. So as you write the job description, be sure you use the correct terminology to accurately describe the position. For example, there are various types of job telecommuting, ranging from 100 percent remote work to a part-time telecommuting position, and varying degrees of flexible schedules. You’ll need to determine what the job is going to offer, such as 100 percent remote (where the employee would completely work from home) or perhaps a partial telecommuting job where the employee reports to the office two or three days each week. Whatever the case, make it clear in your job description and hiring materials what options are available for each remote role.

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Know what to look for when interviewing. Let’s face it: no two employees are created equal, and nowhere is that more the case than with a telecommuting employee and an in-office worker. When interviewing a job candidate for a remote position, you’ll need to focus not only on your potential employee’s previous work experience, but his abilities as a remote worker, too. For example, telecommuters need to have superior communication skills, the ability to problem-solve, and be able to manage themselves without a boss hovering over them. Hiring managers can — and should — ask a remote job candidate how he handled previous problems as a telecommuter, or pose hypothetical questions to see how he would react as a remote worker.

Use niche job boards. Thousands of traditional job boards are used by recruiters when looking to hire a potential employee. But a remote worker is no ordinary job candidate. So it makes sense to place your open remote job listings where telecommuting workers are already searching to find remote jobs. Using a niche job search board when doing remote hiring ensures that the candidate you’re dealing with is serious about remote work, and there’s a good chance that he already has some sort of remote work experience. A 2012 survey found that 76 percent of people searching for remote work have previous telecommuting experience. By using smaller, more tailored job boards for remote hiring, you won’t have to sift through hundreds of highly-unqualified candidates to find the gems. Blogging4Jobs has a helpful list of the 21 Best Niche Job Boards for Recruiters.

Flaunt your flex. Nearly 80 percent of the workforce would like some type of flexible job. Knowing that many of today’s workers want flexible work options, it’s in your best interest to advertise that the position is a flexible one. After all, work flexibility is a major selling point in any job position. Being open about remote work, flexible scheduling, etc.—whether it’s in the job description or on your company’s website or careers page—means that your open positions will be highly desirable in an increasingly competitive job market.

By being forthcoming about the remote work options built into any job position you’re hiring for, you’ll be sure to save your company money (and save yourself precious time) by attracting and hiring the right candidate every time.

MORE: Remote talent: A solution for a local shortage

Sara Sutton Fell

Sara Sutton Fell
Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and founder of FlexJobs, an career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance and part-time job listings, the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative, and

Sara Sutton Fell

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One Response to “Dos and Don’ts for Hiring Remote Workers”

  1. Great tips Sara!

    Another factors to consider when posting a remote job are location and time zone. 

    Some businesses prefer working with remote employees in real-time so you should know if the applicant is willing to work given specific schedule. Also, businesses would like to run 24/7 making their remote workers work while they are asleep.

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