When my remote company, Greenback Expat Tax Services, started 10 years ago, working remotely was largely confined to telemarketers and freelancers. Oh, how the world has changed in that time. In 2018, 3.9 million people in the U.S. worked remotely at least half the time, increasing by 115 percent from 2005 and still going strong. However, while remote work isn't for everyone--it requires a different set of both hard and soft skills--hiring practices for remote workers haven't fully adapted to accommodate this growing trend.
Want to learn how to hire the best of the best in a remote context? Here is the process my team and I have refined using the learnings from a decade of hiring remotely.

1. Post on job boards that attract remote job-seekers.

Because my company hires a 100 percent remote team, I've pinpointed job boards that specifically cater to job seekers who want a remote role. Here are the sites that work best for us:

  • FlexJobs
  • Virtual Vocations
  • Remote.com
  • Indeed
  • Dynamite Jobs, and
  • We Work Remotely.

Each operates a little differently. Indeed, for example, is a traditional job board catering to remote and non-remote hires, and now has the option to set a job posting as remote across the U.S. versus requiring a specific city. This change has been a huge boon for both employers and job seekers alike who use Indeed to fill remote roles. We Work Remotely is a traditional job board as well, but focused entirely on remote roles.

FlexJobs, on the other hand, has different pros and cons. My company usually gets a lower volume of candidates, but they are of higher quality and all focused on remote work. However, because FlexJobs also caters to the gig economy, you can sometimes inadvertently attract candidates for full-time jobs that are looking for part-time or contract roles.

Dynamite Jobs is brand new and does a bit more of the prescreening and curating for you, which helps shave off time. For instance, they send you a short list of candidates based on the job specifications. Virtual Vocations and Remote.com have a totally different model from the others: they use job-wrapping tech to pull directly from your job board or others and help to advertise the role. 

Whatever you do, ensure you look beyond the traditional job sites and focus on sites that cater to this growing remote workforce. Remote roles aren't suitable for everyone, so don't waste your time posting the role in places where job-seekers don't want to work remotely.

2. Set up prescreening questions that specifically assess the candidate's ability to work remotely.

Getting to know a candidate without meeting them in person requires thinking outside the box. Taking this seriously has been instrumental in hiring people who benefit my company. 

Ensure you set up prescreening questions, not only to gauge the quality of a candidate's written communications, but also to ask about their experience working remotely, technical acumen, and ability to make decisions independently. Do this before any actual interviews are conducted. Most of the communication and collaboration with your remote team will be in writing, so judging candidates based on this alone- before live interviews- is a good way to ensure the candidate is suitable for a remote role before moving into screening for the other qualities you seek.

3. Interview candidates with a video meeting tool multiple times to really get to know them.

My team conducts 3 to 5 video interviews that touch on different topics. For example, one interview might focus on the skill set for the role, another on cultural fit, and another on remote working practices. It's harder to get to know someone without meeting them in person, so it's necessary to do more interviews in this context. Look not just for what they say, but also for signs of professionalism too. Are they dressed for an interview? Is the lighting appropriate? These are all signs you can--and should--take into account.

4. If needed, take additional steps to ensure you truly get to know the candidate before offering them a full time role.

Finally, depending on the role, you could introduce paid projects and personality assessments as well so that you can get to know the candidate better before asking them to join your team. We do that on an as-needed basis, depending on the role and how much we've garnered from the interviews alone.

In short, be creative and thorough, and don't forget to adapt your current hiring strategy to meet the demands of today's remote work environment. A bad hire can spell disaster for your business. The same principles apply for remote roles as for in-person ones: always hire slow, and fire fast.

Published on: Apr 11, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.