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Rewind three years, and the business world looked a lot different than it did today. Remote working was definitely a major trend, but it wasn’t the standard. Fast-forward back to 2022, and remote working has become an expectation in many industries — particularly among employees. Fueled out of necessity by the pandemic-related lockdowns, remote working isn’t going anywhere. And the sooner employers embrace it, the more likely they are to win the talent war.
If you’re new to the idea of hiring remote employees, now’s your chance to get ahead or fall behind. Five years from now, it’s possible that some industries will be entirely remote. And if you continue to approach remote hiring in the same way that you do hiring an office-based employee, you’re making a grave mistake.
Related: Hiring Remote Workers? Here’s What to Consider First.
While it’s true that people are people no matter whether you’re hiring them to work in the office next to yours or 2,000 miles away in a remote position, you must be mindful of your approach to hiring. Here are several tips and frameworks to consider:
1. Redefine your process over time
You can’t settle for using your same existing hiring process. It’s not as simple as transposing your standard approach to the remote world and assuming it’ll stick.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to create a whole new remote hiring process rather than attempt to shoehorn traditional hiring practices into a new shape,” says business owner Stephen Light, who has hired dozens of people for remote positions. “Shifts like these are stressful, and it can be tempting to keep using what’s always worked for in-person interviews, but remote recruiting is a whole new beast that requires a novel approach.”
Even after reinventing your hiring process, you’ll have to continually adapt and evolve. This is something that happens gradually over time. Constant and never-ending improvement is the name of the game.
2. Know what you’re looking for
As is the case with any job search, you have to begin with a very specific and detailed profile of the type of person you need for the job. While many of the qualities will remain the same, you’ll also have to account for some qualities that are specific to remote positions.
For example, we always say that we’re looking for people who are “independent self-starters,” but this is especially important in a remote situation. You don’t have the luxury of keeping an eye on them or popping into the office to make sure things are on track during the day. Remote employees must be motivated.
It’s also a good idea to look for candidates who have previous remote working experience. A lot of people think they want to work remotely but don’t actually perform well in this capacity. By hiring someone who has already been successful in a similar setup, you can feel confident they know what they’re getting into.
Good remote workers are also creative and tech-savvy. This should go without saying, but you need people who can figure out technology and have an intuitive understanding of how modern software and applications work. They shouldn’t need a refresher on how to use Google Docs or how to connect to a wireless network.
Related: A Step-By-Step Guide For All Of Your Company’s Remote Hiring Needs
3. Turn over the right stones
The next step is to look in the right places. Yes, you can always just post an online job listing and wait for candidates to come. However, it may be worthwhile to take a more referral-based approach. Let colleagues know precisely who you’re looking for. You can also leverage LinkedIn to evaluate potential candidates and see if they’re interested.
4. Create an amazing interview experience
Candidates aren’t the only ones looking to impress in a remote job interview. There’s some pressure on you to impress them as well. People who are willing to work remotely have plenty of options to choose from. You have to show them that you’re a real person with a real company that is offering real opportunities. The tricky part is that all of this has to come across via a Zoom meeting. Show up ready to give your best.
Likewise, make sure candidates are showing up their best. Pay attention to how they dress. (Are they treating this the same way they would if the interview was taking place in your office? Or are they wearing a wrinkled t-shirt?) What does their background look like? (Are they on the sofa with a messy kitchen in the background? Or do they have a neat, organized home office?)
Related: Here’s How to Find and Hire Great Remote Workers
5. Give a pre-hiring assignment
Find out how people work by giving them a pre-hiring assignment that gauges their remote working skills and attention to detail. This assignment should be handed out after the interview and assigned in the same way a typical remote project would be assigned (e.g. via email or Slack). Give specific instructions and a strict deadline. Let the candidate’s work speak for itself.
Learning how to be successful with remote hiring could become one of your secret weapons moving forward. While other companies are still trying to use the same classic approaches to hiring, you’ll have a system in place that allows you to identify, target and onboard the best possible talent. Just remember: Focus on constant and never-ending improvement!
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