As a virtual manager, hiring excellent remote workers can be a frustrating, deflating process. When you’re not interviewing someone face to face, it’s harder to judge his or her professional skills and drive. If the applicant seems likeable, outgoing, and interested in your company, it’s tempting to hire them right away. But if that person turns out to be lazy and unqualified, you’ve just wasted unnecessary time and energy—and back to square one you go!
To help you avoid any hiring blunders, we spoke with recruitment specialist Mike Fox at Brightlights and got his advice. As a recruiter for small and mid-sized technology companies, Mike knows what to look for in potential employees. He offered the following three tips to help you hire the best possible employees you can find.
1. Look for self-motivated employees. Hiring somebody that is self-motivated is important in today’s fast changing world, especially in a virtual workspace. Sure, you want to hire smart people, but it’s important to recruit independent, motivated self-starters. In a virtual environment there’s simply no manager available for feedback or orders on what to do next. Virtual employees are often left to their own devices, and they need to direct and prompt themselves to stay on top of tasks.
“You want your employees to be extroverted,” Mike explained. “They need to be confident in reaching out to clients, prospects or other team members.”
Mike added that, when looking to hire independent, motivated self-starters, he would ask questions like the following:
1. How do you update yourself on current news? Do you read the newspaper, books, or blogs? If so, which sources are you interested in, and why? (Self-motivated people are hungry for information and insights on their marketplace.)
2. What time do you start your day? What does a typical workday look like? How do you prioritize your daily tasks? (Self-starters are usually early risers and they know how to organize and schedule their assignments).
2. Take your time; don’t rush the process. It’s understandable thatyou have holes to fill and duties to be completed—and you need employees immediately. But rushing the interview process because you’re desperate to hire somebody can make you overlook and ignore flaws in an applicant. And if you hire the wrong person for the job, you’re wasting more time and energy in the long run. You’ll just have to repeat it all over again. It’s better to take your time and make sure the applicant qualifies for all of the duties in the job description. Mike stressed how deflating it can be for managers to keep hiring employees that don’t fit their job descriptions.
“If they haven’t hired remote individuals on a regular basis, they get frustrated and down on themselves. They start to lose trust in their judgement and hiring process.”
Don’t make that same mistake!
3. Focus on an employee’s portfolio, not just their resume. Aside from being self-motivated, another important characteristic to look for is experience. You want an accomplished, experienced, and adaptable virtual worker. Look at their actual accomplishments, not just the companies they have worked for. Think about it—the last person you want to hire is someone with a high GPA and a polished resume, but has never done anything!
So, when you interview people, ask them to show you projects they’ve worked on, teams they were apart of, instead of just making sure they have relative work experience and a high GPA. Mike suggested that you get granular in the work they actually did themselves. This is to ensure that you find out exactly what they did, not what the team accomplished! Here are two sample questions that you can ask to gauge an applicant’s level of experience.
1. What specific tasks and projects were you responsible for in previous jobs? Tell me more. What else did you do. What else, etc. What skills did you have to develop?(Look for a proven track record.)
2. What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? What did you learn from that success? What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? (Do they care enough to learn and grow from each experience, good or bad?)
Remember that hiring virtual employees that fit the bill is not always easy; it’s a process. If you follow the advice in this article, you will move closer to putting together a diligent, hardworking team.
Have you ever had any harrowing experiences of hiring the wrong employee? If so, how did you adjust your approach the next time? What other strategies do you use to hire effective virtual employees? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image by stevendepolo (Creative Commons)