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11 Business Owners share their best advice on Remote Hiring

Nestor Vazquez, SEO MEXICO

Hiring remotely may be a wonderful approach to discover talented individuals who are unable to visit your firm’s headquarters. Keep these ideas in mind while looking for the greatest remote employees.

Test your devices before starting an interview to make sure you can see and hear each other properly. Also, check that the internet connection is strong and stable.

Create a process

Come up with a procedure for how you will interview candidates remotely. This may include things like having them complete an assignment or asking them questions through video chat. For SEO, interviews work well if having a questionnaire with essential questions. Reach me out if you need one.

Be clear on expectations

Remote work doesn’t mean less work. Be clear with potential employees about the expectations you have for them, including hours and workload.

Take care with contracts

When hiring remote workers, take care with contracts. They need to be very clear about what is expected of them and their duties as well as any legal stuff relating to the business such as confidentiality agreements.

Carlos Obregon, Bloom Digital Marketing

Remote hiring is one of those business strategies that a lot of people talk about but not many execute correctly. I will list two of the pitfalls that often get overlooked. The first one is a very obvious one, the time zones. Business owners may think that as long as the new hire is in the same country it should be easy to communicate, right?

Nope, here in Canada we have six time zones, covering a four and a half hour difference. This can be an obstacle when scheduling meetings, conference calls and so forth.

The second pitfall is the fact that in many industries the qualifications are not directly comparable. In some industries it is easier to evaluate equivalencies, but in other fields like marketing for example it is virtually impossible.

In cases like this the solution is to do a very thorough interview and hiring process. It takes longer but it can save you time and money down the line.

Justin Herring, YEAH! Local

You should carefully assess a remote worker’s communication, work ethic, and time management abilities before hiring them.

Here are some pointers for hiring a fantastic remote employee:

1. Study & Observe

During the interview, take note of how fast they answer your emails, how professional they sound, and how effectively they communicate. This will give you an idea of how well they’ll communicate with you when they work with you.

If they take a few days to answer, you can bet they won’t react quickly to work-related emails. If you have to follow up on key information more than twice, they may need to focus on their attention to detail. Hire someone that answers swiftly and expresses themselves clearly on screen.

2. Ask the Appropriate Interview Questions

Your questioning should explore their autonomous working routines, deadline behaviours, and motives for working remotely. Consider the following:

What is your background in remote work?

What tools did you utilise to finish and manage remote projects?

While the outcomes are far more important than the techniques used to get them, you may learn a lot by asking individuals how they operate. Potential workers who dislike structure and timetables may prove undesirable.

3. Assign a test project to each candidate

It is quite difficult to precisely predict what it would be like to work with a remote employee until you actually work with them. Request that your applicants complete a paid trial assignment with a set deadline of one week or less. 

You’ll be able to observe how they collaborate with your present staff, how quickly they work, if they fulfil deadlines, and whether you value their work.

Jordan Choo, Kogneta

My top tip is to incorporate paid projects as part of your hiring process. The reason for this is that it allows you to test candidates for both hard and soft skills as if they were part of your team. 

The paid project itself should be something that the hired candidate would do as part of their job. This helps you gain a deeper understanding of what type of knowledge the candidate has, what type of training you need to provide them with and how they accept feedback based on their work. 

All of those factors (knowledge, training needed and how feedback is accepted) are important parts not only in finding a solid team member but, even more crucial when in a remote environment. 

Gary Goh, I-credit, moneylender Singapore

Before hiring VA, it’s essential to ensure that you have all your clauses and expectations stated. It may sound simple enough, but the following seven steps can protect both yourself and your business from common pitfalls looking for VAs.

Establish your virtual assistant’s working hours. 

1.Establish what VAs can and cannot do 

Ensure that your virtual assistants are qualified to accomplish all tasks before hiring them, so you don’t wind up paying someone for something they aren’t capable of doing. For example: If you’re hiring a VA for customer support, if they can’t communicate in english, then you won’t accomplish anything. 

2. Establish a Fee and payment structure 

Many VAs have a minimum hourly rate which means that the VA may charge more for small tasks than larger ones. The virtual assistant fee structure should also include a clause if the VA were to work overtime to avoid an unexpected spike in your Virtual Assistant bill!

Be clear regarding when VA will be paid and exactly how much. 

Payment terms should be made extremely clear on day one when bringing on a VA. For example, the date of payment will be sent out and through what forms, PayPal, bank transfer or whatsoever. Make sure that your VA understands the terms to prevent any form of miscommunication. 

3.Establish proper security 

Understand that your VA would need access to certain information to perform various tasks. You should consider the security risks before outsourcing assigning the tasks.

For example, although bookkeeping is administrative work, it is unwise for the contractor to have access to your bank account to retrieve the details to carry out the task. Instead, you need to be the one to deliver the information they need to prevent any potential issues such as loss of money and so on.

4. Establish virtual assistant confidentiality 

Be clear regarding what content is confidential and which you can talk about outside of work. If any clients have been contacted directly, they need to understand they cannot discuss anything related to their work with those clients outside of work hours.

5.Monitor your VAs online behaviour 

VAs need to be monitored just like staff to understand how your virtual assistant is expected to behave online and make sure they are following them thoroughly!

Victor Hs, Microtask, Outsource Ecommerce Marketing Team

My best advice on remote hiring is to simply pay more & batch testing remote workers.

For Microtask, we outsource to remote workers & freelancers microtasks regularly to fulfil for our clients & our own projects.

And since most businesses outsource the same few virtual assistant tasks, ( there will always be people more suited & familiar for certain things.

Knowing the strength of each freelancer & their capabilities allowed us to assign work more effectively & gave us the ability to track whether they are worth the cost. 

Through batch testing, we have freed ourselves up from the opportunity cost of the task going wrong & workflow being unoptimised, greatly reducing the opportunity cost from our end.

Freeing up more time for personal life & allowing a general sense of safety without constantly worrying about the biz gives us more space to worry about expansion, rather than maintenance. 

Andy Peddar, Deazy

Don’t Just Grow, Grow Well.

The hybrid and virtual models many organisations have more recently adopted as a result of the pandemic has enabled and encouraged greater diversity in hiring, for example, through the removal of geographical barriers we are able to widen pools of potential applicants.

One of the biggest challenges of running a business during the pandemic is the balancing act of growing quickly while growing well.

In any start up there are lots of growing pains, which makes recruitment so important and in any team, finding the right cultural fit is just as important as having the right skillset. The wrong hire can set you back months. 

Therefore, I would always recommend that when hiring remotely you do your best to ensure that your new hire will be the best cultural fit possible for your organisation.

There’s a massive pressure to grow fast and you need your hiring processes to be able to not only manage this pressure but produce the most useful outcomes for your organisation.  

Ben Wittams, Usave

You need to be extremely selective about where you post your jobs. Depending on where your company is based (and of course your financial standing) you may be wasting time and money trying to recruit staff from a stronger economy whom you just can’t afford. Who needs them anyway?!

You should also not be afraid to venture a little further. You have access to top talent from all over the world and can find prime applicants in specialised fields easily. Broadening the scope of your search can improve the level of applicants you find (hiring from countries that focus on tech education, for example).

Also, if you are lucky enough to hire someone from a lower cost of living area/country, the wage you can provide them with will enable them to live better and be happier. Happy employees are a win for any business.

Use specialist recruiters and job sites that tailor for your specific industry and the desired skills you are after. Generic job sites produce a higher volume of applicants, improving your candidate pool, but sifting through all of them will often prove inefficient.

Brennan McEachran, Hypercontext

Hiring is an activity that feels productive, but in the short term it’s really not. Most of your time is spent in interviews and your focus time becomes obsolete. When hiring remotely, it’s important to understand that hiring is a very time-consuming process and in many cases it’s really draining too.

If you’re hiring a distributed team, your interview times are now all over the place. So, when you’re hiring remote, my advice would be to: 

– Block off certain hours in the day throughout the week and try your best to respect those boundaries for yourself

– While you’re hiring, give yourself permission to be less “productive” in regards to the work you’re putting out because hiring is your job and that’s how you should measure your productivity (not by your burndown chart)

– Set realistic goals and milestones for yourself within the hiring process (I.e. review 100% of resumes by X date or schedule 5 project interviews by week 2)

Kevin Dam, Kevin Dam

One thing you can’t look past when it comes to remote hiring is how to RETAIN your hire. 

Like your team members that aren’t remote, there’s a high chance your virtual team is looking for the same personal fulfilment and salary progress so it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re looking to retain talent. 

It’s estimated to cost an extra 6-9months of an employee’s salary if you had to rehire due to a bad hire or the individual not fitting into your company culture, so understanding what’s going to make the new team employee stay will save you both time and money.

Paying close attention to their family, personal, relationship, learning, health and contribution goals will help you go a long way to retaining your talent.

You might not be able to provide support in all these areas but just knowing what’s important to your team members will set you apart from other employers who just know what their employee ID number is.

Alex Milligan, NuggMD

Whether hiring locally or remotely, there are fundamentals to the process that should never be ignored. But in hiring remotely, one must make a few critical adjustments:

1. Source widely, evaluate narrowly

You’re able to cast a much wider geographic net in your search. Be aware of the many platforms for distributed work at your disposal. Their candidate curation will cost you, but such curation is invaluable in speeding up your search. MarketerHire for marketers, Flexiple for devs/designers, Upwork for administrative assistants, etc.

However, casting a wider net means you need to be more rigid with regard to factors like time zone differences, language barriers, communication styles, etc.

2. Prioritise culture fit above all else 

No matter what anyone says, a lot is lost when you don’t have in person collaboration. Know your top culture fit criteria and be uncompromising in finding a candidate that ticks all your boxes. Read Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy and apply his lessons.

3. Lengthen your interview/evaluation process

This will feel uncomfortable or counterproductive to many hiring managers, but remote interviews have subtle differences that are easily missed if you’re only conducting one or two interviews.

Conduct two skills-based interviews (8-12 questions each), a culture fit interview, and issue a take-home assignment (2-4 hrs work) to your finalist candidates.

Don’t skip this last step. A take-home project helps you filter out candidates who aren’t passionate about joining YOUR company and helps you vet the candidate’s competency in an actual remote work setting. Do they follow your instructions, do they ask the right questions, are they timely in their communication and project submission? Make sure you pay for this take-home.

Trust is hard to build over Zoom and this will show candidates that you’re a serious employer that values their time, plus you’ll get their best work this way.