5 things to consider when recruiting for remote work

5 things to consider when recruiting for remote work

Written by Michele Ridland

Michele is a Canadian living in beautiful North Wales. An experienced recruitment manager with a passion for making people’s lives better and solving problems with creative solutions, a dedicated dog pack momma and a crafter. Michele has crafted and delivered presentations and training courses on essential and important subjects as diverse as time management, employability, hand quilting and how to make a bunny out of a washcloth. Michele loves learning new things and sharing information and aims to live her life laughing like the Chewbacca lady.

Hey, how about that 2020 so far? Life has certainly been turned upside down over the past months. I’m doing my best to focus on the positive things it’s brought. Time with my family, a slower pace of life and no commute. Actually getting round to those things that never seemed to get crossed off on my to do list.
Yet, one of the best things to come out of all of this, in my opinion, is that remote working is here to stay. It’s become much more accepted by companies. They’ve had to embrace this option whether they were ready or not. However, hopefully they’ve seen that it can actually work as an option going forward.

If you are an employer who has made the jump on to the remote working bandwagon, good for you! Among other things you’ve opened up to a massive new and diverse labour pool. People who don’t live near your business and aren’t looking to relocate.

I’m sure you’ve put a lot of thought into how you manage remote workers going forward. As well as the practical side of things like equipment setups. But have you thought about your recruitment process?
There is a lot of difference between working in the office and working remotely. Regardless if it’s the same job, performing at a high standard in each requires different sets of skills and qualities.
If you’ve started offering remote working to new hires, perhaps it’s time to have a look at your recruitment process. Here are a few ways that can help you make sure you’re getting the best people. Candidates who will truly excel in the remote working environment.

The Job Description

The first place to start is with your job description. What needs to be adjusted to facilitate remote working? Aside from the obvious things like the location of work and working hours. What are your core hours? Is there flexibility? What about someone in a different time zone? Is it likely that the reporting function of the role and types of meetings to be attended will be different? What does that look like for a remote worker? Put as much detail as possible into the description of the role. Clearly explain what is expected of them.

Remember, this person is going to be taking what they understand is expected and with them not being physically present it is much harder to notice if things are going slightly off track. So clear up any doubt by putting it all down in writing from the start.

Don’t forget to have a think about the perks and benefits you have on offer. If a remote worker is missing out on free parking, snacks or subsidised canteen, is there a suitable alternative you can offer?

The Person Specification 

There are certain qualities in people who thrive in a remote working environment. These may be very different from those you would look for in someone who would be based in your office. Therefore, your person specification will need to look a bit different for remote roles.

Of the qualities you already outlined in your person specification, some will have greater or lesser importance when the person will be working remotely. Soft skills in particular, like the ability to communicate effectively and being self-motivated. Or having initiative, being responsible and reliable. As well as being resourceful will be much more important.

Advertising your role

Include the word “remote” in the job title, even if it is at the end of it, when advertising your job. The job board search engines don’t seem to be completely caught up with the increase in people looking for this type of role. But a search for “remote” in the job title will bring your job up. Word your ad to appeal to the type of people who will thrive in a remote role. Remember the person specification we mentioned earlier.

Screening candidates

When first speaking/emailing candidates for screening, make sure they understand what working remote means. What it looks like and how it’s different from working in the office. Ensure that they know what they are getting in to.

Ask them to check the basics. Be sure they’ve considered things like the reliability and speed of their broadband. Or the phone signal. Or how do they plan to keep distractions and interruptions at bay. Do they have the physical space available? Or the required equipment needed for the job?

Let them know what is and isn’t acceptable. I’m lucky because I can keep my dog in a part of the house where their barking isn’t heard during my calls!

Assessments that specifically target the skills and qualities that are also important in remote working. Such as tasks requiring consolidation of information into a concise email. Scenario-based assessments designed to look for initiative and resourcefulness. Or the skill level for various types of software they will be using to communicate with the team. As well as simple things like how quickly and well they respond to emails and questions during the process should also be considered as it is an example of how they communicate.

Interview questions

You will want to add some questions about those soft skills to the interviews as well.  Some example interview questions you might want to consider:

  • What would you consider to be the best thing about a remote-based role? And the worst?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve worked independently for an extended period. What specific challenges did that bring and how did you manage them?
  • Remote working means you aren’t physically with the other members of your team. What are some of the ways you would work toward ensuring collaboration, bonding and cohesiveness in the team?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a team project but weren’t able to be physical with the rest of the team? What was the outcome?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced with regard to maintaining motivation levels when working independently? Which techniques do you use to keep yourself at the top of your game every day and week after week? 

It is hard to say how we will emerge from the other side of the epidemic, but I have a feeling remote working is here to stay and demand for these types of roles will keep rising.

The firms that can implement changes and satisfy the demand for remote roles will not only have the first shot at the best candidates, they’ll be creating a whole new range of opportunities for both their businesses and their employees.  With a few changes to your recruitment process you will be able to identify those candidates who can not only do the job, but who will also shine bright in the remote working environment.

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