Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: Telecommuting and flexible work are all the rage, and many of today’s companies make use of distributed teams in order to bring the best talent on board, no matter where those workers are located. With this in mind, we wanted to know: What do employers – especially startups – need to know when it comes to hiring virtually? To find out, we asked a few successful entrepreneurs for their advice on making virtual hires.

The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.

jason1. Only Hire Virtually When You Know the Candidate Well

When you’re hiring a virtual employee, it’s tough for the new hire to get integrated into the culture and goals of your company unless you know them and, preferably, have worked with them previously. Referrals are great, but when you’re not working in the same room as an employee, you need to know that they’ve bought in to what you are building. Knowing the candidate before you hire them helps you judge that.

— Jason Unger, Junger Media 

zac2. Understand the Complexities of Virtual Hiring

While virtual hiring might seem great from the outside, it’s important to put in the time and effort to make sure your potential hires are a benefit and not a liability. A great way to hire virtually is to assign jobs to candidates and see who can accomplish them with minimal support and teaching.

— Zac Johnson, Blogging.org 

karen3. Look to Your Current Team for Suggestions

I look to my current team for candidate suggestions since they know how involved the work is when you’re not face to face with your colleagues. They will know whether someone can hang with us at the pace we work at. It helps to do an in-person meeting or a video call during the interview process. I also ask about the systems the candidate uses to stay organized and run the candidate through our own systems to make sure they are familiar with the platforms.

— Karen Hartline, Reinventing Events 

jessica4. Set a Schedule and Clear Deliverables

Narrow down the resumes, hold a call to see if there is a match, and schedule an interview (via Skype). Then, set a definitive schedule the hire should work. Let the hire know they should always be available on Gchat, phone, or Skype for quick questions or discussions. Deadlines of deliverables should also be clear. If you need to explain something, use TeamViewer and share screens.

— Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs 

Kathryn5. Start With a Freelance Project

When possible, it can make sense to start with a small freelance project before committing to a remote hire. We were in the market for a designer, so when we found someone promising, we brought her on for a small internal project first. After that went well, we decided to offer her a staff role. It was a safe and easy way to test the waters.

— Kathryn Hawkins, Eucalypt Media 

Mark6. Hire Slowly

Set expectations before you start. Is this hire for a project, a set number of hours, or a full-time role? Make sure you agree on specific deliverables and deadlines. Have a contingency plan in case the hire doesn’t deliver. Review work product regularly and make a guide that can be referenced in the future to prevent mistakes from occurring more than once.

— Mike Sheffer, First Dynamic 

Lisa7. Get Recommendations From Other Startups

There are so many freelancers out there, so it’s important to find people who can actually follow through. The best way to do that is to get recommendations from trusted friends and partners.

— Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli 

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