Startups are expanding across the world, and established businesses are finding that remote workers can help them accomplish more because they are working in another time zone while their home staff is sleeping. The ability to work from any location with an internet connection is also giving more skilled workers the chance to live anywhere — and have a schedule that adapts to their lifestyle.  

The future is freelance.
It is estimated that today some 53 million Americans are freelancers, and that by 2035 there could be one billion digital nomads roaming the globe. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the trend towards flexible workplaces will continue to be a huge driver in the workplace.
If you’re in charge of hiring and you’re in the market for virtual workers, be aware that the hiring process requires different strategies and techniques.  When you’re not hiring based on location, you can afford to be pickier…but the problem is that there are many other variables to consider.
And with so much choice available, where do you start? Here are 7 strategies top companies use when selecting new remote workers.

1. Tailor your interview questions towards personality traits.

The best remote workers have specific personality traits that make them good candidates for working independently. For instance, introverts tend to work best alone, so if you have limited interactions in the way of video or real-time chatting, this might be a good trait to look for.
Great remote workers also tend to be extremely entrepreneurial, with high emotional intelligence and organizational skills. And of course, it is essential that they are self-directed.

2. Be ridiculously clear about the framework in the job ad.

There’s so much variety with remote work today—from collaborative tools to hourly flexibility to real-time meetings—you need to be clear about your expectations on a day-to-day basis. Some remote workers are digital nomads who require extreme flexibility with scheduling, so the more you can spell out your needs around deadlines and communication, the fewer problems you’ll have.
To avoid wasting everyone’s time, try to explain as much detail as you can about the context of the position itself—rather than just the job skill requirements—in the initial ad.
You will also want to be explicit about the types of project management and meeting tools (e.g.: Zoom, Skype, Teamwork Projects, Teamwork Chat, Slack) that you expect to be using daily, and look for people who understand the platforms.

3. Ask them specifically about previous remote work experience.

Employees with prior experience of remote work are likely accustomed to being more self-directed and they know how to work with clear reporting protocols. But even so, making the shift between two different types of remote working positions may involve a learning curve, so it’s good to get a list of very specific details about their previous virtual work environments.

4. Acknowledge the problems specific to working remotely immediately.

Working remotely might seem like paradise to most, but it’s not a perfect system. Add to that the fact that one person may have plenty of experience in one setting but is not able to keep up with the demands of the next, and you’re setting yourself up to hire the wrong person.
For instance, the person may be used to working independently 90% of the time, but maybe this particular position requires them to be available in real time 80% of the time. Can you be absolutely certain they will show up as needed?

5. Consider employment education verification.

Anyone can build a website and fake profile and exaggerate qualifications these days, which is why it’s especially important to do a background check on remote workers when possible. This will help to verify their education details such as degrees obtained, when they graduated, and where they went to school.

6. Try a few different types of interviews and test projects.

The trick with hiring remote workers is that you need to know how people work, not just what they do. Running a few different types of tests is a good way to identify their work approach since remote work usually involves a variety of types of communication.
Depending on the type of work you’re hiring for, running a short, paid test project under a tight (but reasonable) deadline is a great way to get the gist of how a person approaches the process and deliver results, not only how they work under pressure.
Here are some examples of test projects:

  • If you’re hiring a VA, you can ask them to set up a meeting with your preferred meeting software like Zoom.
  • If you are hiring a writer, you can ask them to do a short writing test.
  • If you’re hiring someone for website design, ask them to prepare a simple wireframe page of a product in your industry.
  •  You may also want to try some sort of team-focused assessment exercise which demonstrates their capacity for collaboration in a virtual office space.

7. Post on niche job sites.

When your applicant base is essentially global, you’ll want to be careful about not only what you put in the job ad, but where you post it. You’ll likely want to step away from posting generic job ads on sites like Craigslist and LinkedIn, just because the sheer volume of applicants you may receive will be overwhelming.
Some better alternatives include Facebook groups that focus on remote workers or even jobs in the particular industry you are looking for, like blog posts and social media. Specialty sites like WeWorkRemotely can also bring in a calibre of candidates that are better suited for companies and projects like yours.

Hire the best remote worker for your company

Adding remote workers to your company’s employment options can increase your flexibility and productivity—if you can find the right workers for the job. Use these 7 tips to create a new hiring process specifically for remote workers so you can locate a qualified field of candidates, ensure a good fit for both of you, and outline job expectations in a way that will give you and your remote workers a great experience.   

Author Bio: Emma Epps is one of the marketing managers of Trusted Employees. She has been helping organizations big and small automate their employment screening process for the last 5 years. Every day, she is working hard behind the scenes to make sure every report comes back with accurate, trustworthy information to her clients.