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Home / Blog / A Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring Remote Employees

A Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring Remote Employees

How to market, recruit, interview, and hire remote employees for your organization.

Tracie Marie
Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leader with nearly 30 years' experience in start-ups to corporate 100 organizations
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With over half of my career dedicated to hiring remote employees in some capacity, I’ve found navigating the challenges specific to remote hiring is imperative.

Crafting a remote recruitment strategy, navigating the intricacies of the remote hiring funnel, optimizing job descriptions for remote roles, implementing effective screening methods, and assessing cultural fit in the virtual environment are all crucial steps for success. Equally vital is a thoughtful onboarding process for employees embarking on their virtual careers. This lays the groundwork for flourishing remote teams.

This article examines the nuances of identifying the best talent, adept at delivering high-quality work in a virtual environment.

In This Article


Understanding the Challenges of Remote Hiring

Perspectives on remote, hybrid, and fully on-site jobs fuel debates in professional discussions. Nonetheless, landing a role in the best remote work companies is a significant achievement for those who value the flexibility and work-life balance it affords, but it’s not for everyone.

Candidate Expectations

I’ve found a substantial number of candidates favor traditional office settings. Convincing these candidates of the merits of remote opportunities necessitates addressing their concerns related to engagement and communication.

As hiring teams, we must recognize potential candidates' diverse preferences, and a tailored approach is imperative. With improved search filters on job boards, candidates can express their preferences more explicitly. Job seekers can search for remote roles or in-office jobs. They can also refer to job boards specializing in remote or hybrid job openings.

While this is excellent news for job seekers, it means you might be missing out on top talent who prefers an in-office role. These candidates may refrain from applying if the remote setting doesn't align with their expectations or prior experiences. We have seen data on how remote work limits career potential. Young people are especially affected by proximity bias (leaders favoring in-office colleagues) and the lack of in-person mentorship. This may dissuade them from considering a remote role.

Compensation

In the realm of remote work, compensation packages can fluctuate significantly. Moreover, job listings may be influenced by the varying pay transparency regulations across states, underscoring the importance of understanding and adhering to legal requirements when posting remote job opportunities.

Companies determine salaries for remote jobs based on industry norms, their core location, the employee’s location, or more variable factors— such as skill scarcity or urgency to fill. As a result, candidates may see large and incoherent ranges in advertised salaries, which makes it difficult to gauge whether an application is warranted.

Remote Candidate Experience

Effectively navigating the recruitment process for remote positions demands additional efforts to maintain candidate engagement and ensure an optimal candidate experience.

Remote interviewing introduces distinctive challenges, including scheduling complexities, appropriate interview questions, and determining the interview panel. Delivering a best-in-class hiring process that fosters excitement for candidates takes some planning. Even when these aspects align seamlessly, considerations related to onboarding processes, training, retention, and engagement introduce an extra layer of complexity that demands meticulous execution.

This nuanced approach is necessary when you hire remote workers. You need a holistic strategy to address the remote work landscape's unique challenges.

A recruiter interviewing and hiring remote candidates for a dispersed company.

Crafting a Tailored Remote Recruitment Strategy

Formulating any recruitment strategy stands as a fundamental task for every company. With a remote recruitment strategy, additional considerations come into play.

Legal Considerations

A crucial starting point involves addressing legal requirements associated with remote recruiting. Beyond federal regulations, companies must navigate varying state laws, industry-specific accreditations, and potential involvement with governing bodies. Pay careful attention to company policies, pertinent legal considerations such as OFCCP and EEO compliance, and the states where the company operates or is open to state tax registration (timing and costs also play a part).

Global teams have the added consideration that while an international talent pool opens up many possibilities, there are legal and tax-related consequences to making international hires. You may, for example, run into global payroll challenges that require an employer of record service.

Market and Pipeline Research

Constructing a recruitment strategy demands a meticulous, multi-faceted approach, beginning with comprehensive research.

Thoroughly understanding your market is pivotal to strategic sourcing. You may need to delve into alternative job posting sites tailored to specific industries or positions, such as groups and conferences. Additionally, scrutinizing available data, including your own metrics and top sources of hire, to inform strategic decisions will help these efforts. One of the benefits of hiring remotely is how digitized, and therefore trackable, your recruitment efforts are.

You can use people analytics tools to track each candidate from the specific job ad or sourcing channel they responded to, through the interviewing process, to your onboarding process and eventual tenure. This tells you where your best candidates came from, as well as your success in retaining these new employees.

A pivotal aspect of this process involves crafting an exhaustive sourcing list, with a dedicated emphasis on regularly recruited positions, to fortify a dynamic candidate pipeline. Passive recruiting may be necessary for hard-to-fill or mission-critical positions where the candidate pool is challenging.

A Remote Employer Brand

A well-defined communications plan and a compelling recruitment brand are integral to your remote hiring strategy.

Your recruitment, brand awareness, and sales initiatives should frame your organization as an employer with adequate communication skills, flexible work solutions, and remote work policies to support a dispersed team.

Consider the benefits and differentiators your business offers and highlight these. Candidates also appreciate transparency. It is okay to share where there may be opportunities to improve your remote work culture— consider how this may be worded as part of the job description or job posting. You want to make sure it is the right fit on both sides.

Promoting, sharing, and endorsing company content that supports your ability to engage remote talent further amplifies brand visibility and fosters candidate engagement.

Optimizing Job Descriptions for Remote Roles

Writing an effective job description is essential for all positions, but there are variations in what should be included for remote positions.

Show Your Remote Company Culture

Start job descriptions with a standard opening paragraph or two that brands your company. This section should include general information about the organization’s history, a brief overview of services or products, awards, culture, core values, benefits, and differentiators that foster remote workers' engagement (Virtual Bingo Fridays, annual gatherings, virtual employee recognition, monthly all-hands meetings, etc.).

Set the Scene

A section of the job posting should list the collaboration software and tools your company uses to ensure remote work is productive and engaging.

This creates an in-house glimpse of what the candidate can expect regarding project management, communication, and time management. You can also highlight any remote-specific perks your company offers. You could consider providing a home office stipend, a subscription to shared office space, or sought-after media subscriptions for team members.

Clarify the Requirements of the Role

Include information related to expectations for remote workers, which may include set work hours and time zones, the percentage of travel required, means of preferred communications, and availability.

Outline whether they will need access to high-speed internet or particular hardware (and what the company will supply). You may also require candidates to have a home office or workspace that adheres to specific stipulations. For example, if they will liaise with clients, you may want the office space visible in video calls to be free of clutter, distractions, and interruptions.

Specify any confidentiality and data security requirements. For certain industries, data privacy is mandated by law. For example, in the healthcare industry, accessibility to patient information may require additional training and policy acknowledgments from remote workers.

Job descriptions can touch on these additional requirements and set expectations on the front end to ensure alignment and understanding of the culture.

A recruiter reviewing applications for a remote role.

Navigating the Remote Hiring Funnel

Knowing where to find remote applicants and where to post open positions for remote workers can create unique nuances.

Assess industry groups, job boards, conferences, associates, referrals, etc., to ensure you maximize your efforts. Measuring the effectiveness of your sourcing efforts will help you determine the ROI and aid in future spending strategies.

Technology to Support Remote Hiring

The right types of technology or tools are critical for success in building remote teams.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Researching and implementing an effective applicant tracking system (ATS) can help companies better manage the different steps in the hiring process and applicant funnel.

The best applicant tracking systems provide candidate relationship management (CRM) features that ensure a positive candidate experience and timely communication.

Interview Scheduling Tools

Careful consideration of phone or video interviews and effective scheduling strategies is essential in recruitment. With diverse availability and fluctuating schedules among candidates and interview panel members, selecting the appropriate platform and communication templates is crucial to streamline the process.

This proactive approach can save time and cost while minimizing unnecessary stress. Understanding how to set up meetings and grant permissions for interview participation efficiently is paramount for enhancing the candidate experience. User-friendly solutions that benefit all stakeholders involved in the scheduling and interview process are critical.

Virtual Interview Platforms

Additionally, creating a quiet, secure, and distraction-free environment for interviews is imperative for the recruitment team and the entire interview panel. This ensures a professional and focused atmosphere conducive to effective candidate evaluation.

With remote interviews, your video interview platform can make or break the experience. Many purpose-built tools offer the ability to share interviews and insights with panel members. Consider a tool that integrates with your application tracking system for an automated and efficient remote hiring pipeline.

One-way candidate interviews offer a solution to screen candidates asynchronously, which frees up HR resources. You can use pre-set one-way interview questions to cover the basic requirements for the role and move further with qualified candidates.

Screening Candidates for Success in Remote Roles

Screening remote candidates typically begins with a thorough review of resumes, applications, knock out questions, and occasionally cover letters and questionnaires.

For candidates with limited remote work experience, gauging their sentiments toward remote work becomes crucial. This insight enables hiring managers to anticipate any potential training needs or challenges, facilitating informed decision-making throughout the hiring process.

Questions may encompass situational and behavioral interview formats during the screening process, enabling recruiters to gain deeper insights into applicants' capabilities and character traits. Contrary to closed-ended questions that elicit simple yes or no responses, this open-ended format facilitates a more thorough exploration of specific examples. This context provides valuable insights into candidates' experiences and problem-solving skills.

Conducting initial screenings via phone offers advantages such as a less formal setting, minimized non-verbal distractions, and the ability for recruiters to take detailed notes without appearing inattentive. When assembling the interview panel, video interviews are a viable alternative to in-person meetings, often the preferred method in today's remote work landscape.

Many companies also consider pre-employment tests to assess candidates for skill and culture fit.

Strategies for Successful Remote Onboarding

The onboarding process serves as the initial impression of the company, and onboarding remote employees demands additional focus and care.

Effective communication, including what some may call "over-communication," is crucial to keeping new hires engaged. Provide candidates with a clear agenda and instructions so that they don’t feel lost or isolated from what’s happening. If your team works asynchronously, ensure you have team members online and ready to answer questions when new hires start their first day.

While essential corporate onboarding typically occurs on the first day, having a comprehensive onboarding plan managed by the hiring manager is equally vital. Consider implementing an ambassador or buddy program for new hires. You can also conduct surveys to gather feedback, send a small welcome gift, and ensure new hires have all the necessary resources on day one to leave a positive and lasting impression.

Final Thoughts on Mastering Remote Hiring

In conclusion, the success of remote hiring hinges on the expertise of your talent acquisition team.

Their ability to effectively assess candidates remotely is paramount. Organizations can ensure a consistent and efficient hiring experience while meeting legal requirements by implementing a well-defined strategy supported by streamlined processes and technology.

However, it's crucial to recognize that remote work is only suitable for some. It's essential to select candidates who thrive in this environment and take steps to keep them engaged for long-term retention and organizational success.

Tracie Marie
Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leader with nearly 30 years' experience in start-ups to corporate 100 organizations
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Tracie Marie is a trusted partner and leader with a passion for providing best-in-class experiences and outcomes. Her in-depth understanding of the Human Resources landscape, especially Talent Acquisition and Communications, stems from nearly three decades of working in multiple industries from start-ups to corporate 100 organizations. She studied Interdepartmental Communications at Elmhurst University in Illinois.

Tracie is the Founder of Hire Incentive where she offers her expertise to companies of all sizes and industries, both domestically and globally. She has experience building departments and functions from the ground up, leading M&A initiatives, implementing new technologies, and recruiting for exempt-level positions. Tracie thrives in engaging and challenging assignments where she can collaborate with empowering leaders to scale and grow their businesses. She values cultures where people, innovation, and communication are highly respected.

Tracie has trained and presented on a variety of business subjects personally and professionally and is involved in many volunteer activities and professional organizations. She is a mental health advocate and speaks to adolescents and adults. Tracie is also the author of a children’s book, "Mac to the Rescue - a short tail" which she self-published through her company Candy from the Sky.

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