Remote work is more popular than it’s ever been and for good reason. According to one Forbes article, workers are more productive and engaged when given the option to telecommute, while organizations see, on average, a 21% increase in profitability. So when it comes to hiring virtual employees, it’s usually a win-win situation. Nonetheless, it’s a significant change in the business landscape that probably requires you to tweak existing hiring practices. Here are four important things to keep in mind when hiring virtual employees. 

Look in the right places. 

Posting on big job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed will most likely get you a lot of responses. And this can be a good thing, as you’ll have a bigger pool of candidates to choose from. However, it’s usually so easy to apply to jobs on those websites that many people will submit an application even if they’re far from qualified. 

This can result in more time and money spent by your hiring teams sifting through applications. To try and prevent this, you should know exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate. Post a detailed job description that clearly states which qualifications are an absolute necessity, and which are just preferred. 

You can also try posting on more niche websites, especially if you’re looking for a very particular set of skills. Post roles on industry-specific websites where you’ll likely receive less total applications, but the applicants will be more qualified. When hiring virtual employees, check out sites that cater to remote work opportunities like WeWorkRemotely, Remotive, and AngelList. 

Set up a video interview. 

Being able to see a candidate while they interact with you is an essential part of the hiring process. You want to see a virtual candidate for the same reason you would want to see an in-person candidate. By taking note of their facial expressions, mannerisms, and clothing, you’ll be able to assess their professionalism and gain a better understanding of whether they would be a good fit for the company culture. 

Of course, you might also use video conferencing software for client meetings and, in this case, a video interview would give you some indication of how a candidate would handle those meetings in the future. Do they show up on time? Do they dress professionally? Do they appear present and focused, not distracted by something offscreen? You can use a video interview to assess these details.

Set up a video interview
Set up a video interview

Administer candidate assessments. 

Short assignments, assessments, or tests can be an effective tool in evaluating a candidate. These can help show that the candidate has the hard skills needed in order to be successful in the role they are applying for. Not only that, but if you challenge a candidate with an assessment, you will get to see how they work under pressure, what their problem-solving skills are like, and how they organize workload. 

Keep in mind, though, that an assessment isn’t the be-all and end-all in evaluating a candidate. For most industries, it wouldn’t be wise to make a hiring selection based solely on which candidate scored the highest on an assessment—it’s more like a chance to get a glimpse of how a candidate works and thinks. 

Prioritize security. 

Just because you’re hiring a virtual employee rather than someone who works side-by-side with you in an office doesn’t mean you should overlook the screening process. In fact, you should take even more precautions while screening virtual employees— while there are many benefits in remote work for the employee and company, there are also unique risks. 

Virtual workers will be under little to no supervision throughout the day and have at-home access to company data. So consider investing in screening and security software for the hiring process. Budget for this by asking yourself: 

  • What kind of background information will influence my decision for this role? 
  • What kind of information will disqualify a candidate?
  • Does this role require a drug test? How much does that cost? 
  • How much is a background check

Explore different screening programs and find out which works best with your budget. Many programs offer free trials, so you can do some experimenting and see how they suit your organization’s needs before you buy.

The trend toward remote work shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why it’s ideal to have a hiring strategy for virtual employees in place now rather than later. Remember, the shift to remote work doesn’t mean you have to throw your existing hiring process out the window. You just have to adjust it to the changing landscape. 

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