If there’s one thing that has become acutely apparent recently, it’s that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. As much as we hate to acknowledge this, we’re just going to have to grin and bear it and learn to live and work with it for the foreseeable future. And despite the desires of many organizations to return to “normal”, it’s clear that this isn’t the ideal solution for the moment. In fact, we may never return to what we know as normal. 

From enforced lockdowns and social distancing to the health issues and everything in between, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. This is especially true for organizations who are now having to completely tear up the rule book and change the way they operate—remotely. And this includes hiring remote workers. 

Although many industries have seen a downturn, many are thriving, and their hiring needs have not disappeared. Whether it’s hiring critical talent to fill a pressing skills gap or bringing on additional labor to cope with higher demand, it’s something that many organizations are having to do amidst the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

But how do you hire new staff when everyone’s working from home, including your human resources staff and recruiters?

Essential Tips for Hiring Remote Workers

Hiring remote workers requires an entirely different approach. This time around, you’re not just assessing someone’s suitability for the role but also their overall suitability for the overall remote working environment.

So, if you’re looking at doing it, here are five tips to help you along the way:

1. Commit to Interviewing Remotely

The very first thing you should do before you even post a job ad is to make sure that you’ve committed fully to remote interviewing, at least for the foreseeable future.  By this, we mean that you should invest in suitable tools and other technology that you’re going to need and actually learn how to use it.

Upgrade your tech ahead of time, get a script ready, and organize your calendar to allow for technical problems between interview sessions. This will enable you to own the remote interviewing process and streamline the hiring process. Similarly, if you’re leading a remote hiring team then be sure to equip them with everything that they’ll need to do their jobs effectively.

Being 101 percent ready for remote interviewing will avoid tedious, mediocre interviews plagued with technical problems and, to the candidate, what will look like a lack of preparedness—remember, hiring is a two-way street.

2. Account for Critical Remote Working Skills

As we just mentioned, hiring for remote workers is a matter of not only assessing candidate suitability for the job role but also whether they have the skills necessary to excel at remote working.

Some of these skills and traits are:

  • Strong organizational skills
  • A natural communicator
  • A willingness to collaborate
  • Self-discipline
  • Great time management

If a candidate doesn’t have these, there’s little use taking them through the motions. Without these skills, it’s virtually inevitable that they are going to be a bad fit for a remote role. And unlike you can with role-specific skills, it’s not as if you can easily train your candidates on them—it’s more of a case of ‘you’ve either got it or you don’t.’

Other things you may want to assess, depending on the role and your remote work configuration, is whether the candidate has a stable Internet connection, whether they’re comfortable on video conference calls, and whether they can communicate clearly and effectively in a virtual setting.

3. Focus More on Experience

Right now, candidate experience matters more than ever. When you’re hiring a candidate who’s going to be working from home, you need to be 110 percent certain that they have all the necessary experience required that will enable them to hit the ground running.

The last thing any organization needs right now, especially when everyone is stressed out and worried for the future, is a new starter who’s not ready to get right to it. Unfortunately, in the absence of the office environment, it’s a lot more challenging for in-depth induction and training sessions to be carried out, and it’s not as easy to approach a colleague and ask for help or advice.

Hint: Org charts are a great way to streamline the new starter onboarding process!

4. Consider Paid Trials

Once you’ve settled on your top candidate(s), consider extending the offer of a paid trial period with strict pre-agreed conditions. How long is the trial period? How will the candidate be compensated? What work will form part of the trial period?

This is actually an existing and very common tactic that remote companies used well before the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows you to see in real terms how skilled a candidate is, how well they can learn, and whether they’re a good fit for a remote position. If your company’s workflow allows it, why not provide the option for the candidate to work flexibly on evenings and weekends during this trial period?

5. Speed Things Up

Millions of jobs have been lost around the world since the onset of the current pandemic. People need to get back to work. And fast.

Look at places where you might be able to save some time. Start with your website. Does it convey all the information that a candidate might be looking for? If not, add it. It’s typical for candidates to have lots of questions, so add in an FAQ section if you don’t have one. Then move on to your application process itself. How long is it? Could you make it shorter by slimming down the application form or the number of interview rounds?

The smoother and more efficient your remote hiring process, the better.

Embrace the New Normal

Hiring remote workers isn’t the same as hiring for the office. That’s why when you’re hiring remote workers, you need to place more of an emphasis on assessing candidate suitability for remote working in general, as well as the level of professional experience they have, among other things.

By following the above remote hiring tips and taking the time to properly review your hiring process in the context of remote working, you’ll be well on your way to welcoming the perfect remote talent to your company.