No matter the skills you are looking for in your next employee, there are essential extra skills you need to check when you are hiring a remote employee. These skills are mandatory for everyone and really don’t matter what type of job you need to fill in: marketer, developer, account manager or virtual assistant. These skills are also soft skills, which can be built up with months or years of remote working so make sure you hire someone who's not just starting up in remote working but also a pro in it and has some background.
Expert in written communication
Look for someone who thinks "what's not written down, doesn't exist." Even having some graphomania is better than having none of it. When you manage an offshore/remote team, truly verbal communication only exists on online team meetings - even your water cooler conversations are verbal on Slack or other chat platforms. You need someone who's not just an expert written communicator but also prefers to communicate in written form.
Your ideal candidate should be a prompt writer too, extensive use of emojis and shortened texts can be easily misinterpreted online. You need someone who's communicating in an extremely clear way.
HOW TO CHECK THIS SKILL: Ask them to write something relevant to the job. A written test material can help you see their writing skills.
Natural-born project manager
If you have an old-school dev team, I'm sure you have your coders and some project managers, who make sure what’s on priority and what’s not. This is convenient for someone who has an office where they can walk into. But for a remote worker, basic prioritization skills, and project management is essential. They run their own time, they have to know what’s high or low priority. They have to be able to easily switch between tasks. Since they are freelancers and there's a high chance you are not their only client, they have to manage their own different projects too.
Someone without the basic project management skills will bleed out quickly from the remote working space.
HOW TO CHECK THIS SKILL: Ask them to prioritize a template project that is relevant to the job. If you ask them to do multiple test work during the interview process, that also helps.
This should be also an essential skill for everyone you hire, not just remote employees, but it is a super extra skill for them. As you can't control what they do because they are not around you - we can argue about how much control you have on your own office employees though - they sometimes finish off tasks before time. There comes proactivity, the key skill which enables them to find new opportunities in the job.
Most of the remote employees are proactive by nature as they have to find their own projects online. They can easily apply this habit into their jobs as well.
HOW TO CHECK THIS SKILL: Ask some ideas that are relevant to the job. If they applied for the job, check if they added anything extra relevant to their application.
They have their own network
Those who work in an office have their own support in their job through the coworkers. This is totally different for remote employees as they can rely mostly on their own network. You can solve this if you integrate the remote employee that you hire to your own team, which they can rely on. But if you are looking for someone for just one smaller project, make sure they have their own network that can support them.
Self-starters are not enough - sometimes you just need a personal feedback. Look for someone who's coming from a natural freelancer background or a startup scene: they have friends and supporters around them anyway.
HOW TO CHECK THIS SKILL: Ask them where they work and how long they have been doing remote working. Some of them have been doing this for years and have their own supportive circles, others go to coworking offices which work almost like real ones, with their own supporting teams.
Hire someone you trust
This goes without saying of course, but being trustworthy is even more essential for a remote employee. Remember, most of the time the closest thing to a personal relationship with them is an online conference call. Of course, there's a chemistry and I would advise, ditch anyone who makes you feel shaky even for a second. Having trust in the remote space is having a transparent background. Check what they write online and social. Check their LinkedIn. Ask about their previous employees and testimonials or reference letters.
If something's just doesn't sound right, don't make the hire.
HOW TO CHECK THIS SKILL: Do your research on everyone who you consider as a fit. Then do the research again to make sure you are happy with your call.
Remember, in 99% of the cases, the basic skills that are required for the job are abundantly available on the global market. Only hire those, who have these extra skills, above everything else. A remote/offshore employee can act as a full-time employee, not just a flexible freelancer who comes and goes and can bring extra creative value to your business. But hire them responsibly.
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At Anywhere Consulting, we help entrepreneurs to launch, build and grow their remote business. We provide support and consulting services as well as educational products to overcome the challenges of remote businesses. If you are a freelancer who wants to launch a distributed business or you already have an established business but want to grow remotely, we can help you.
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