Every employer at some point has hired an employee who simply wasn’t a good fit for the company. This challenge is only heightened when a company is composed of remote positions.
Yes, it seems logical that if employees don’t work together in the same office, "cultural fit" will require less attention. However, knowing how well a candidate will mesh with existing remote co-workers and how well all will work “together” even from far-flung locations are details employers cannot afford to overlook.
Veronica Duckett, co-founder and creative director at Maventri, a remote business services firm in Ashburn, Va., says she keeps this consideration top of mind when she's hiring. It's crucial, she told me via email, to include employees throughout the hiring process to avoid remote hiring mistakes.
And, she said, there are a number of ways she does this. “We use software like Slack, UberConference, and Google Hangouts to discuss hiring," Duckett said. "Then we use Workable to find our candidates.”
By using a hiring platform, Duckett said, her entire team can collaborate on the hiring process from the start. Everyone can view and screen candidates’ profiles and even make recommendations to either further or disqualify an application. “We find that [remote candidates] need to prove more because it takes a certain person to be able to work remotely,” Duckett explains. “These candidates need to be self-starters, take initiative and communicate very well.”
Gauging personality, cultural fit and skill level isn’t easy -- especially in the hiring of remote employees. However, the following company leaders have gotten the requisite tools and teamwork down to a science. Here are four ways to include remote workers in your hiring process:
1. Face-to-face video conferences
Nataly Kelly, VP of international operations at Hubspot, an inbound marketing software company in Boston, said she knows the importance of bringing her global team together. “Being remote isn't a barrier for participating in the hiring process,” she shared with me by email. “In situations where the interviewers confer to discuss their thoughts on a candidate, the remote worker is simply added via videoconference to that meeting.”
For a company with employees all over the globe, communicating onscreen is a critical need. This proved true, Kelly said, when her company was making an important hire for its new office in Tokyo.
“All of the interviews took place remotely via videoconference, except for two in person at the end,” she explained. “The candidate would later be working extensively with a remote team, so it was important that our hiring process reflect the reality of the work scenario we were recruiting for.”
Be sure to include your own remote workers via video conference to show how day-to-day communications work and to gauge if the applicant can communicate effectively. Give current employees the opportunity to ask and answer questions so everyone can get an accurate feel for on-screen personalities.
Related Video: How to Build Your Business Remotely
2. Interviews with potential co-workers
Graham Davis, marketing director at Collage.com, a custom photo gifts company in Detroit, has seen the benefits of involving employees in the interview process.
“Our remote interview process begins with a screening interview between an applicant and one of the people they’d work with most closely,” Davis told me in an email. “An applicant then moves step-by-step through our interview process, talking with another person they’d work with at every stage of interviewing.”
The whole team then evaluates potential candidates and offers input on future interview processes, Davis said.
“The remote interviewing process allows for an applicant to meet more members of our team prior to accepting a job offer and also works really well for fitting in interviews with an applicant’s already-busy schedule,” he continued.
Before allowing new hires to meet with potential co-workers, get your team prepared. Some employees may not be comfortable jumping into the pressure of a one-on-one interview. Use coaching exercises to familiarize them with the process, and prepare them to answer questions.
Other employees may be more comfortable with an informal meet-and-greet. This can be done in person if that's geographically possible, but can also be just as casual and engaging over a video conference.
Invite the interviewee for a “coffee chat” about the position and company details. This will help everyone get a solid feel for personalities and whether there's a natural cultural fit.
3. Community outreach initiatives
Golda Manuel, CEO and co-founder of Care Anywhere, a remote medical-jobs search engine, in San Mateo, Calif., said she trusts her team to go out into their communities to promote the company culture.
“Because they have deep ties within the communities they live in, they expand our reach and become the voice of our company,” she told me in an email. To help the company recruit, she explained, these team members "attend local meetups and conferences, where they’re on the constant lookout for new talent.”
Manuel currently has a remote employee who is attending college and is interested in medical school. “Many of her friends are just as passionate about health care, and she has recruited some of the best members of our team,” Manuel continued.
Encourage your team members to get out and recruit new employees. Expanding the company's networking-reach into various communities breaks open the talent pool. This allows your team to help you find the most dedicated and passionate candidates in their fields.
4. Intuitive skills assessments
Cristina Escalante, COO of The SilverLogic, a software development company in Boca Raton, Fla., puts candidates through a soft-skills screening process to test skills needed in their new position.
Combining skills assessments and interactions with potential co-workers gives leaders a deeper insight into exactly whom they’re hiring. Just as importantly, candidates themselves get an inside glimpse of whom they’ll be working with and the type of work they’re expected to perform.
“After submission of the assignment, two current employees [who happen to be remote] review the assignment and give feedback,” Escalante told me via email. “The applicants are then judged on the quality of their work and how they respond to feedback.”
Ask each department at your company to design new-hire skills assessments specific to their roles. Have each person also include an interview question that will give insight into the experience and personality needed to excel at the company.
That way, you can be more confident when you go out and search the world for those perfect candidates for your company.