From figuring out what type of remote work your company will offer, to hiring decisions and onboarding – here’s the go-to guide to remote hiring for modern organizations.
Becoming a remote-first company or operating fully remote can be a bit intimidating at first. The rules of hiring are different, the work culture has shifted, and it can be challenging to break out of traditional office processes.
Fortunately, there have been other companies to pave the way in remote work. Organizations like Basecamp, Zapier, and Buffer – have built amazing transparent and profitable businesses by being completely remote.
Whether you are new to remote work hiring, a fully remote company, or a hybrid (onsite + remote), this guide is for you. We’ll cover some hiring basics, building remote culture, your recruiting strategy to attract the best remote workers, sourcing and interviewing candidates, and remote onboarding.
I. The Future of Remote Work is Here
Remote work has steadily been on the rise and more people are looking to work from home or anywhere in the world. And the pandemic of 2020 further pushed working remotely to more companies and employees, as there were many “unknowns” at the time.
Today, more companies are operating fully remote or hybrid, which gives people more options to work for companies all over the world without having to be in the same location.
Just look at Google Trends for “Remote Work” worldwide since 2004, which you’ll see a bit of a spike in 2020 when the pandemic changed how almost every company operated.
Pros and Cons
We don’t want to spend a ton of time on the pros and cons of remote work. If you are looking to dive into that deeper you can check out this article: What are the advantages and disadvantages of remote working?
- Opens the talent pool far beyond an in-office location
- Easier to attract more quality candidates
- Reduces office and hiring expenses
- Improved company productivity
- Can reduce overall employee stress
- Lowers employee turnover
- Keeping employees engaged is more work
- Communication and internal community can lack
- New distractions for remote employees
- Company trust can take longer to build
- Sifting through candidate pipeline can be daunting
“When people are free to choose where in the world they want to work, they simply enjoy their day-to-day work more” – Brian De Haff, CEO of Aha.
Reminder: Remote Work Glossary Terms
As you may or may not know, there are various remote work terms that you’ll want to understand. Knowing the slight differences will help you in your remote work hiring efforts and job post listings.
Remote work is a flexible work arrangement that allows you to work from home or from a location outside of the traditional office environment. Remote work can be done each workday or a “hybrid” of in-person and at home. Other common words used for remote work typically include telecommuting, virtual, and work from home (WFH).
A remote worker is someone who does not work in the company office and might be working from home or elsewhere, like a coffee shop, park, etc. This person could be a full-time employee or a contractor but has the freedom to work how they see fit.
Work From Home (WFH):
Someone who works from home is based from their own home either full-time or a few times a week. This is also known as hybrid work, where the employee has a flexible schedule to be in-office and home. Typically, this will have a set schedule and timezone, so being at home or close to home for work is important.
As alluded to in the work from the home definition, hybrid work is a flexible schedule where you’ll want employees to be in the office a few days a week. It’s encouraged to work from home as well, but it’s not a fully-remote position.
A digital nomad is someone who works all over the world and is not dependent on a specific location for work, as long as they have the internet. This gives the remote worker more freedom to explore the world, live and work where they want, but still have a meaningful income stream.
A remote-first company focuses on empowering employees to work remotely, the processes and tools in place for remote work, meetings are limited, company decisions and strategies are led via online and virtual meetings.
A remote-friendly company focuses on empowering employees in the office but allows workers to explore working from home on some cadence. The processes and tools in place are focused around the office, instead of remote work, and company decisions and strategies are made in-office.
II. Building Remote Work Culture
“Trust in your employees is essential for remote work success. It also forms the underlying foundation of a great virtual culture.” – Larry English
If you want to attract the BEST talent to your remote jobs, then the remote work culture has to be strong and clear to the world. Your remote culture is the connection and bond remote workers will have with your leaders and company as a whole.
While there should be a good work culture no matter what type of environment, remote work may take more effort and focus. But it will be highly rewarding when culture is a priority.
By building a strong remote culture, your company helps eliminate isolation, ensures continued future hiring success, and helps strengthen long-term relationships.
While we won’t go too in-depth about a remote work culture strategy here, it’s worth calling out a few steps. Work with your HR and leadership teams to truly make remote culture a priority, so you can include it in your job listings and attract talent.
Remote Work Culture Tips
- Provide employees with everything they need to be able to work remotely successfully.
- Create clear remote work policies and guidelines that are accessible by everyone.
- Ensure policies and guidelines are communicated regularly.
- Gather feedback and questions, be transparent and adjust the policies or guidelines as needed to better improve them.
- Create virtual events and meet-ups for employees to bond and connect.
- Establish learning programs or workshops for employees.
- Follow your remote culture and principles into all areas of your company.
- Ensure every employee has professional development and growth plans.
Supporting Remote Work
Today, there are so many great remote work advocates that can help guide you or your company in the right direction.
And you can look to business leaders and experts who have paved the way in fully-remote work (think Basecamp, Buffer, and Zapier).
It’s also why the Remote Work Junkie community was built.
We exist to help share more tips, insights, data, jobs, and guides to managing remote teams – content that empowers both job seekers and employers.
Not every company can be fully-remote and that’s okay! We also support remote-friendly companies that provide flexibility to their employees to work from home and in-office. Use the experts and community to help support your remote work culture further.
III. Starting the Remote Recruiting Strategy
Before you list any remote job, it’s important you and your team establish two things:
- What is expected out of the role(s)
- The recruiting strategy to get candidates
Establish each role with some clear expectations that are needed for success. Work with HR and/or the team that needs to hire. Understanding these below points will help you fully understand the scope of this hire and hopefully avoid bad hires.
- Why your hiring for this specific role
- What the responsibilities of the role are
- The goals and KPIs that signal success
- Experiences and traits the ideal candidate should have
- Milestones and achievements looking for within the first year
- Cultural fit and alignment to our company
You may have more than the above to add, but this is an easy checklist to get you on the right path. It will help you with your job listing, promotion of the job, and help you be clear about the candidate during the interview process.
The Recruiting Strategy:
A good recruiting strategy requires detailed planning and understanding of the role you want to hire. You can split this up into two main categories:
- Create your plan for this remote job
- Promoting to attract the right candidates
Create your gameplan:
- Ensure you know your recruiting budget for your promotion efforts.
- Create the best job listing (Use our remote job listing template for help)
- Get your hiring team together, who will be involved in interviewing/reviewing the candidates? How will you all be sourcing candidates?
- Know how you are managing all the candidates and where they are coming from to determine your future job hiring efforts.
Promoting to attract the right candidates
- Where and how are you going to promote? Remote job board, social media, career page on website, LinkedIn Jobs, online communities, other ads, etc.
- How often will you push and promote the open position for? A few times a week?
- Will you encourage teammates and other employees to share the job listing to their social networks and/or colleagues? Help spread the message. 47% of referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies.
- Do you focus on building the employer brand and culture? Showcase company culture, benefits, initiatives, etc. Gather reviews from current employees on Comparably or Glassdoor so top talent seeks you out.
IV. Sourcing Remote Work Candidates
In order to attract top talent and continue to get support (even for those candidates you ultimately pass on), creating a strong candidate experience is a must.
You want people to trust your company and become eager at an opportunity to join. This is where the experience of the candidate from the job listing to whether an offer is sent or not, can determine how good your talent pipeline will be.
Before you begin sourcing your remote work candidates, ensure the experience for the applicants is top-notch. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Have a detailed clear remote job listing (Check out our template!)
- Include your company values and culture where applicable. Talk about it proudly!
- If you require a project for the candidate, pay them for their time.
- Focus on communication and transparency throughout the whole process.
- Be empathetic and helpful with your feedback. Leave a good lasting impression even if the candidate is not offered the job.
Skills to Look For In a Remote Worker
To be successful in a remote work position, there are specific skills you’ll want to ensure this candidate has during the sourcing process. Naturally, they should have the skills required of the specific role, but they will also need some traits that will align well in working remotely.
- Strong Written & Verbal
- Interpersonal Communication
- Highly Motivated
- Problem Solver
How to Write An Amazing Remote Job Posting
The candidate sourcing all starts with an amazing remote job post. This is the main item a candidate will read and evaluate if your company and this role are right for them. Here’s how you get started.
Start With A Job Description
The job description is the internal document you’ll create with HR or anyone involved in the hiring of a specific role. It’s a simple description of the job and the key components of what the future employee will be responsible for in this role.
A solid job description includes:
- The job title
- A summary of the role
- Why this role is important to the company/team
- The must-have qualities of the ideal candidate
- What success of this role looks like
- Who this person would report to
Create Your Remote Job Listing
Once you have sign-off on your remote job description and needs, it’s time to move on to the public listing. You will probably do that in a few different ways to attract talent like remote job boards, posting on social media, your company career page, an ATS, etc.
What a Successful Job Posting Includes:
Below are a few items a successful job post listing should include. And don’t worry, we put together this awesome Remote Job Listing Template as your guide.
- Use searchable job titles so candidates find you easily.
- Create a story and hook for your company and this role.
- What type of remote work you are offering (remote, hybrid, time zones, etc.).
- Include what the ideal candidate looks like for this role.
- Clear details about the role responsibilities.
- The requirements the ideal candidate must have to be considered.
- Any company benefits and perks the company offers.
- The application process and steps the candidate might expect.
And while details and transparency are keys to a good job listing, make it easy for people to read. Break up bulky paragraphs, use bullet points carefully, avoid fancy words, and proofread!
Reasons Why Your Job Posting Isn’t Getting Traction
If your job posting doesn’t seem to be getting the traction you’d want, there could be a few reasons why this might be happening.
- You treated your job posting like the job description. The difference is your job description is more for internal use to understand the role. Where the remote job listing is all about selling the company, the role, and making it more enticing for a candidate to apply.
- The listing description is asking for too much or isn’t very clear. Do you have like four roles in one? Or maybe the overview of the job doesn’t have a clear set of expectations, so it’s confusing the people viewing the job? Take a look through it again and ensure it is properly balanced.
- Grammar, formatting, style, and tone make the job and company appear amateurish. If your job listing doesn’t have the care and excitement it should, why would a candidate expect the role or company to be any different?
- You aren’t promoting your remote jobs in the right places. You want your job to be visible in not only the best places, but in multiple areas for maximum visibility. People hunt for jobs in many places like social media, job boards, and Google.
Why Post on Remote Job Boards
People trust remote job boards, especially communities like Remote Work Junkie where we are focused on all things remote work. All our content is to attract people who love working remotely, are looking to hone their virtual skills, or are looking for new job opportunities.
The top channels people are looking for new jobs in are online job boards (60%), social professional networks, and word of mouth.
V. Interviewing Candidates for Remote Jobs
Although interviewing candidates requires fairly standard good practices whether in-person or remotely, there is a bit more attention needed when conducting remote interviews.
You’ll want to have the right tools in place as well as be able to spot red flags remotely to ensure you source the best candidates possible.
As you start to list remote jobs and promote, you’ll start to potentially get hundreds (or thousands of applicants). It can be a bit overwhelming as you know, especially in hot job markets and career fields.
So this is where filtering your candidates will be key, as you won’t be able to interview everyone.
However, you should ensure acknowledgment of every application and any who you are not moving with should get some message. Setting up an email template or automation for those you will not be moving forward with is a good idea.
So easy ways to start filtering remote job applicants before interviewing:
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
As a hiring manager or leader who has been hired, you probably are using some sort of applicant tracking system (ATS). And more than 90% of Fortune 500 Companies are using ATS for hiring.
An ATS helps you organize your candidates by collecting information, organizing based on skills or experiences, and other filters you can set up. But these programs can also help you create job postings, career pages, and set up interviews.
Some popular ATS platforms: Workday, Jobvite, Greenhouse, Workable.
Our suggestion is to use a combo of processes and tools to be successful in your hiring needs. The way people apply and how companies successfully hire is changing. Over the years, more power is in the candidates’ hands.
Remote Work Junkie Job Board
If you decide to use the Remote Work Junkie Job Board, you have some filtering options to help you decide which candidates to interview. And because our content and community are solely dedicated to remote work, you have access to a pool of talent to fill your recruitment pipeline.
Why you should use our job board:
- It’s very easy to get started and post multiple jobs.
- Your own private dashboard for stats and managing applicants.
- Customization to how you accept remote job applicants.
- Pushed to Google Job Search to better extend visibility.
- Affordable package options that expand your job reach and can include images and video to make your listing standout.
Interested? Learn more about the remote listing packages and start posting your remote jobs.
On Your Own:
You can start filtering candidates on your own, without specific tools in place. This can work well if you represent a smaller organization that has manageable amounts of applicants. Otherwise, for a recognized brand, this can get very overwhelming…FAST.
If you’re sorting candidates on your own, here are some tips:
- Create a separate email address or folder label in your inbox so it stays organized and separated from your main inbox. If you have multiple jobs you are hiring for, you can separate it out by the keywords or job title. Organization is valuable and it doesn’t take much time to set this up.
- Utilize an automatic message for every applicant that gives some insights into the process or what they might expect as a follow-up. There are many examples out there to use if you are unsure.
- Create a skills test to help weed out the candidates who are not serious or a best fit for the current role. You can criteria that a person would have to meet before they reach your eyes for the next step. Be careful not to make it into a 2+ hour test, candidates already spend time applying, writing cover letters, and answering questions – you don’t need to aggravate people with drawn out tests too. We’ve used simple Google Forms as a skills test, but there are other products out there.
Other things to help you source candidates:
- While we aren’t a big fan of cover letters, if you ask for one in the job details, did they follow through and clearly read your directions?
- Did their cover letter, email, and resume show their knowledge of the job role and clearly display an understanding of your company?
- Was everything they submitted clear of spelling and grammar mistakes? Did the applicant communicate well in their written application?
How to Interview For Remote Candidates
Once you have found the candidates that you want to interview, it’s time to get them scheduled and begin the next phase. Every company has a different interview process and how many rounds someone might go through before a potential offer is made.
Ideally, you do not want to drag out the interview process. Candidates might be applying to other places and if they are highly talented, will be moved fast by other companies. You want to do your due diligence, but make it an efficient process.
57% of job seekers lose interest in a job if the hiring process is lengthy, so aiming to reduce the time to hire is a great way to improve the candidate experience.
- Initial Screening
- Move to manager or team lead to conduct a more in-depth interview
- Another interview with an additional team or leader
- Potential project or task/questionnaire
- Reference check
Every company approaches this process differently. And not every job requires the need for a project or task, especially if you need to hire a role ASAP and the candidate is a perfect fit all around. But above all, set clear expectations and be upfront about remote work policies and how your company hires.
Remote Interview Questions to Ask
Since you are hiring for a remote position, you don’t get the luxury of the in-person experience or cues about the person. You can in video or over the phone to an extent, but it’s certainly more challenging sometimes to “read” someone.
But asking some of these interview questions below will help you get a better feel for a potential remote candidate.
1. Screening interview
The initial screening interview is usually something a hiring manager or manager will start with. This is a great time to understand the candidate’s remote experience and views. Here is where you’ll want to pay attention to the communication, if they’ve done their homework on your company, how they respond to difficult questions, etc.
- If they’ve worked from home: What do you like and dislike about working remotely? How do you overcome the challenges with remote work?
- If they’ve not worked from home: why do you want to work in a remote position? How will you ensure your success in this type of environment?
- How do you stay connected to work and teams in a distributed workforce?
- What are the common distractions you have? How do you ensure it does not disrupt the work you are doing?
- What is your take on work/life balance?
- How/What do you stay motivated when working from home?
This initial interview is a great way to not only screen the person on their job skills but how they respond to questions around remote work. From here, you’ll get a pretty good idea of who is ready to move on to the next phase.
2. More in-depth interview
After the initial screening, it’s time to move this candidate on to the team manager. This is where the candidate can be screened more specifically about their experience working remotely and the specific job function.
- What do you look for in a company that offers remote work? Why is that important to you?
- How do you like to be managed and work throughout the day?
- What do you like most about your career in X Field? What do you dislike about your career in X Field?
- What’s a specific project in Field X that you worked on that you are most proud of? What about a project that didn’t go the way you expected, how did you handle it and what did you learn?
3. Interview with additional team or leader (Optional)
If the in-depth interview goes well, you might want to have the candidate connect with another team member or even a company leader.
An additional team member could be a great way to get more perspective to ensure this is someone you’d want to continue the conversation with.
Now, pending the size of your company, maybe the CEO can even have a short conversation with the applicant. It’s a cool way to connect a business leader to someone and share insights about the vision and company mission.
4. Potential project/questionnaire
Your candidate has done a lot of work applying and interviewing, so you want to ensure if you give them a potential project, task, or questionnaire – it won’t take them hours to complete. Additionally, not every job position might be a good fit for this, so use your best judgment here.
But this can be another way to see the effort of work, knowledge, and potential of a candidate. If you do require a bigger project, ensure to pay them for the work. The candidate may have to put some serious time into this, compensate them fairly for that extra effort.
We personally like doing a simple questionnaire with a handful of questions about the work/role specifically. It helps you analyze their approach and knowledge of the job.
5. Reference check
The best talent will always readily have references on hand, ready to share if you request it. Not everyone is worried about references if the candidate exceeds everywhere during the interview process, but this can be useful in your hunt for the best person.
Checking with references can be good to hear what others think of your candidate and to see if they will be the absolute best fit. This can be useful if you have quite a few candidates for one position that everyone is having a tough time making a decision.
What are some red flags for remote candidates?
Typically pretty early on in the screening interview, you’ll be able to spot any red flags. However, it might take a second interview to really notice via video or phone. Here are a few signs this candidate won’t be a fit:
- Not showing enthusiasm or interest in the interview.
- Did little to no research on the company.
- Vague answers that dance around the questions.
- Communication skills are weak or completely lacking.
- Lack of confidence in job requirements, answers, etc.
By addressing the above and taking notes, you can start to make a decision about the candidate. Start evaluating how the interview went, look back at their resume and cover letter, and take a look at their LinkedIn profile.
A good plan is to use the same criteria to evaluate any candidate during and after the interview. And especially if there are different people at your company doing the interviewing, this is a good way to compare each other’s thoughts.
How To Move On From A Candidate
No matter what stage of the interview process, not everyone is going to be the best fit or the top choice.
This means you will have to move on from job applicants. It’s not easy to let someone down or that they aren’t the right fit. But being honest and ensuring each interviewee hears back from you is better than complete silence.
Delivering bad news is never fun and neither is receiving it, especially for applicants who may have been applying to jobs for a while. The best way to approach this is with empathy, clear communication, and providing constructive feedback so the candidate can keep improving.
Be personable and human. No candidate likes to receive a robotic automated email that just says, “Sorry, you aren’t a fit. Feel free to apply to any other position you see fit. Thanks.”
According to a LinkedIn Hiring Report, 94% of job seekers want to receive interview feedback but only 41% have received it before. Those who do get feedback, they’re estimated to be 4x more likely to consider your company for any future opportunities.
How To Make An Offer To A Candidate
When you and your team decide on the candidate, it’s time to move fast and make your offer strong. The top talent is surely interviewing at other companies or getting offers, so speed-to-offer is key here.
- Make the compensation fair or top of the market if you can. Obviously, experience and the average salaries given on the role are important to evaluate. But stronger offers will attract better talent!
- Be prepared to negotiate. While many candidates might be afraid to negotiate, talented individuals may push back on your offer a bit. Ensure you have thoughts and a plan if that were to happen so you can move fast if you really want this candidate.
- Get your paperwork in order, like the offer letter and the basic terms of employment. Work with the appropriate people on your HR team.
- Make it clear you don’t expect an immediate response to the offer. Let the candidate have a few days to think it over. Some companies like to try and make someone answer within a day or two. Don’t rush your candidate or pullback an offer after a certain time period!
- Keep communication moving if you don’t hear back and reiterate the team’s excitement of the potential of the person joining.
Congrats on finding a great candidate! Hopefully, with the above offer tactics, they’ll be swooning towards your offer and company 😉
VI. Onboarding New Remote Employees
Huzzah! The candidate accepted the job and is about to begin their new role at your organization. Congrats on the new hire! But your job is not quite done yet, it’s time to create a proper and exciting onboarding experience for the new remote worker.
The remote work onboarding experience should make new hires feel welcome, excited, and be comfortable getting to know the company processes, tools, and team. This is a great time to guide the new hires through the company culture, goals, mission, and values as well.
- Research by Brandon Hall Group found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
- Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees. That means 88% don’t believe their organizations do a great job of onboarding, and that leaves a lot of room for improvement!
- Employees who say they had exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace. In fact, 70% of those with exceptional onboarding experiences say they have “the best possible job.”
Successful Onboarding Tips for Remote Teams
Ensuring you have these onboarding tips aligned, will ensure new remote employees feel supported and pumped about the new job. Here’s how to improve the success of remote onboarding:
Get the right technologies in place
- Agreements, HR docs, benefit paperwork, etc. Ensure you have the right technologies in place like DocuSign, Zenefits, Gusto, BambooHR.
- Performance management platforms like 15Five, Lattice, Culture Amp.
- Project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Monday.com.
- Organization platforms like G-Suite, Dropbox, Box.
- Communication and chat tools like: Slack, Zoom, CloudApp, Loom.
Onboarding welcome package
The welcome package is a key set of content for the new remote employee. It’s where all the important documents and processes can be referred to at any time. Every company approaches this differently, but it’s critical to have.
Much of this can be hosted through your own company wiki, project management board, or a shared Google Drive. You want to make it navigate and reference for any new hires.
Some things to include in a welcome package:
- Intro to tools and platforms
- Work policies (PTO, holidays, sick days, remote policies, etc)
- Passwords, security info
- Trainings, team meetings/meet-ups
- Employee contact information
- Announcement to the company (email, social media, etc.)
Don’t forget if you have cool company swag, to send that out as well. It might be a care package or other cool items to welcome new hires.
Schedule 1:1 intros
During the onboarding process, ensure you get facetime with the new hires.
Set up some video calls, even if it’s just for 10-15 mins. This helps the new candidate get more social interaction with you and their team.
Here are some things to consider for these 1:1s:
- Go over the company values and goals, how your remote teams communicate and what tools, answer specific questions, etc.
- Set up time for the new hire to connect with direct co-workers about the scope of work, team structure, processes, etc.
- Pulse checks, how the new hire is feeling, any concerns, etc.
Encourage training milestones
Starting a new job is overwhelming and starting a remote job can add a completely new layer to that! This is the time to be empathetic and as supportive as possible to your new hires.
The best way to help a remote employee feel less stress is to break up the onboarding experience into specific milestones.
Break out the tasks into smaller increments, which then move onto larger milestones. It helps slow things down a bit, lets the new hire ease into things, and lets you ensure the person has time to absorb everything.
And this helps you give feedback early and provide recommendations if they need help.
Schedule follow-up check-ins
While the first week might be the most intense part of onboarding, the check-ins with the new hires should continue. Joining a new company and being fully remote requires you to really stay connected and be that support.
A common plan is to break it down like this:
- 1 Week
- 30 Days
- 90 Days
If you really want to be proactive, you should have a 6-month check-in and then the yearly one.
How Long Should Remote Onboarding Last?
In a CareerBuilder survey, it was found that two-thirds of hiring managers and HR professionals spend less than a month onboarding, new employees.
But according to BambooHR, it’s generally agreed by most HR professionals that onboarding should last up to three months. And further research suggests companies can increase new hire retention by extending onboarding throughout an employee’s entire first year.
What your company ultimately chooses to do will depend on how organized your onboarding experience is currently.
However, we’d recommend ensuring it’s 100% longer than a week to improve satisfaction, retention, and productivity among new remote hires.
Ready to start finding remote talent? Check out the RWJ Remote Job Board to start posting your new open positions. We have numerous packages to help you reach more candidates.
Or looking to learn more about remote work? You can view all our content here.
Happy Remote Work Hiring! 📍