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Five Areas to Consider When Vetting Remote Employees

Your candidate may be perfect on paper (and even better on the phone). With the desired background, skills and experience, you’ve sourced a winner –  or have you? If you are seeking a remote employee, you need to go a little deeper to ensure you’re finding someone who is up for the unique challenges of working away from the team. True, some remote employees are heads down and work in a more transactional setting. But, if you are looking for a remote worker who is truly a core member of your team, be sure to consider these points during the interview process.

1. Compatibility with remote work.

Working in your pajamas, no commute, saving money on a professional wardrobe, lunch and gas… working from home is ideal, right? Not so much. Remote work is not for everyone, and trying to separate the pack is tricky but crucial during the interview process. 

Start by finding out if the candidate has ever worked remotely - either full or part time. If yes, then dig in about his or her experience. How was success measured? How was he or she managed?  How did the candidate stay motivated and disciplined? What was liked best and least about the set-up? Can the candidate provide a positive reference that speaks to how he or she performed? Start the interview process by getting a feel for the person’s true DNA around the work from home life. 

2. Commonalities among successful candidates.

When sourcing to fill remote positions, I look for certain traits possessed by successful remote employees I’ve placed in the past. During the interview process, I take the opportunity to test their remote-worker potential. I consider how they communicated – via text, phone, email and in person. Is the communication clear and concise, or muddy and confusing? Were they speedy with their responses? Remote workers need stellar communication skills to get their points across when they don’t have the benefit of body language, eye contact and overall demeanor. They also miss out on quick office door chats or impromptu kitchen conversations, making their communication expertise even more valuable. 

3. How they build relationships.

Relationship building is a skill that enhances most every professional’s life, but it takes work. Put miles between you and your team, and it requires an even higher level of finesses. When you are talking with a remote employee candidate, ask how he or she builds and maintains professional relationships at work. For example – conversation. While small talk can be distracting at times, it can also be an effective way to engage teammates outside of the day-to-day work. Does your candidate naturally ask about interests, mention his or her favorite sports team or discuss news in your industry? 

Social media is another way successful remote employees stay connected to their colleagues. Research your candidates’ social media presence and see if they are active and engaged. 

4. Ask about logistics.

You can’t underestimate the practical aspects of remote work. Does the candidate have a home office? Having the right setting that is conducive to the type of work required is a non-negotiable. If the candidate plans to work in the kitchen by day, will the space be conducive to his or her productivity? Is there is a separate space fully equipped and quiet enough? That’s a check in the yes box. Next comes privacy. While not every role requires the cone of silence, it is tricky to get your work done with noisy roommates, needy animals or other non-work distractions. Some remote employees can manage these things and be successful – and some can’t. Talk with your candidate and find out. 

5. How the role is designed.

Not only do you need to find the right candidates, you need to find the right candidates for the way the role is designed. Think about the expectations of the remote employee and how he or she will be evaluated. Are you able to provide access to video conferencing for meetings and check-ins? Do you have a budget for bringing the candidate on site on a regular basis to build relationships with the team? Can you provide the needed technology so the candidate can shine? These considerations are critical and will help set the remote employee up for success.

Remote work can be enticing to many professionals – even those who aren’t necessarily designed for it. By taking the time to discover if your candidate has what’s needed to be successful, beyond the skills and experience for the job, you’ll land the right hire, faster.

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