What to Look for When Hiring Remote Workers

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Jul 20, 2016
This article is part of a series called Remote Work.

Due to a lack of accountability, maintaining tabs on off-site workers is necessary, but difficult. If your company is hiring a large number of these employees, you’ll want to look out for specific traits that can key you in to how much success they’ll have in an often challenging environment.

The issue at hand

Hiring a traditional employee for a remote position can bring forth a less-than-stellar outcome. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), experts agree off-site employees who are successful at their jobs have trait commonalities — they’re strong collaborators, communicators, and appreciate the value of analytics and key performance indicators.

“Remote workers struggle with the limited exposure to co-workers,” Chris Brown, vice president of human resources for West Corporation, a global telecommunications firm, told SHRM. “They struggle with knowing their value to the company and receiving feedback. There’s not a whole lot of cheerleading happening. Some people end up saying it’s not for them and tap out.”

HR departments must learn how to identify productive workers without having seen them perform in the office—that’s no easy task. By creating hiring procedures geared toward identifying job seekers who would excel working on their own, recruiters can confidently hire for these off-site positions.

Considering that working at home is a different experience than working in the office, it makes sense that different personalities fair better than others. The trick is to figure out why. Once you’ve identified the traits that coincide with success, you can use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help sort résumés based on how well they correlate with the search.

Traits to recruit around

During the hiring process, look for instances of the job seeker having excellent communication and collaboration skills. This can be achieved through completing a successful project or contributing to a company’s increase in size or revenue. While they won’t be interacting with co-workers face to face, they’ll need to be able to effectively disseminate instructions or recommendations through text or video chats. Other keywords to look for include “self-motivated,” “positivity,” and “time-management,” CareerBuilder reports.

Once you get to the interview stage, it’s a little easier to figure out which people will excel in the position. CIO recommends asking if they have a dedicated workspace. Working from the couch can cause someone to burn out or produce less work than he or she could in a conventional setting.

The news source also pointed out that asking personal questions like what television shows they watch or whom they follow on social media are both good ways of figuring out how the prospective employee will fit in the office culture — even if they won’t be working on-site.

Above all, SHRM recommends seeing how they react when you warn them of the pitfalls of working at home. Those who are hesitant about not having co-workers around them may not be the best fit.

This article is part of a series called Remote Work.
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