Are you ready to make the jump from being a solopreneur to managing a team? Congrats! You’re giving yourself and your business the opportunity to experience massive growth. For many people who were previously a one-person show, though, interviewing and hiring remote team members can feel overwhelming and downright confusing. Keep scrolling for three simple but actionable tips for how to interview remote workers so that you can start to build your team.
Psst! I have a YouTube video on this, too.
How to Interview Remote Workers
1. Give Every Candidate a Short Test
Oh man. I learned this one the hard way.
When I was first hiring writers, I asked them to submit samples. And they did. And in many cases, the samples were awesome.
However, once I hired them and they started turning work in, the difference in quality was undeniable. What happened?!
I’ll tell you what happened: The samples they sent were so obviously not a reflection of their own work.
This could’ve been for a number of reasons. Maybe the sample they first sent me was something they didn’t truly write. Maybe the sample was indeed their work but had been heavily edited by someone else before it was published.
I’ll never know the reason, and it honestly doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that you can avoid this by giving them an original test to complete for you. For instance, I now ask writing candidates to submit a 500-word sample on a topic I give them. I typically require a three-day turnaround. This is to help me determine if they can (a) meet deadlines and (b) meet relatively quick deadlines — two vital requirements for anyone I hire.
Here’s an example of one that I assigned to a writer I was interviewing.
If you’re a social media manager, you can ask candidates to write five to 10 sample Facebook posts.
Graphic designer? Ask your interviewees to create a simple logo for a fictitious brand you give them.
Now, does this guarantee the work will accurately reflect their skills? Of course not. But it absolutely stacks the odds more in your favor. As a bonus, it also gives candidates a rough idea of what they can expect when they work with you, which is also very important.
Finally, for the love of God, pay them for the sample. Would you want to work for free? No. So, don’t ask them to either.
(1) Give them a test assignment that they can do in less than a week — but give them at least two days.
(2) Keep it simple. If you bog them down in details and demands, you’ll stress them out unnecessarily, and it’ll reflect in their work. This part is to give you an idea if they can handle your work — not test everything they know as a professional.
(3) As long as they turn it in on time and complete it, pay immediately.
When to Do It
If a candidate’s samples are high-quality, I’ll give them a writing test next.
2. Conduct a Video Interview
This. Is. A. Must.
One of the challenging parts of managing a remote staff is that you lose the sense of community you have when you’re all in an office. You’re all just strangers behind a computer. I’m not telling you that you need to be best friends with the people you hire, but you need to breathe a little life into these relationships.
Communicating via email is great when it comes to how to interview, but in my opinion, it isn’t enough. Video calls can bring so much more to the table. Plus, you get a much better look at who a person really is when you can see their face and hear their voice.
It’s much easier to be artificial over email. (We all do this even unintentionally because we want people to think a certain way about us!)
Side note: You should also consider doing weekly video calls with your remote members after you’ve hired them. It helps to continue to build that familiarity on a more personal level and is also good for accountability. People are much more motivated to deliver when they know they’ll have to look you in the face.
(1) Be very clear that it’s going to be a video call so that they can prepare and make sure they look nice. People have caught me off-guard before, and it sucks.
(2) Also tell them roughly how much time to set aside. My video calls are 10 minutes, max.
(3) Have questions prepared ahead of time!
When to Do It
If I’m happy with a candidate’s test, I’ll then move forward with a video interview.
3. Hire Fast (and Fire Faster)
Waiting to find the ~perfect~ candidate? Stop, because that time might never come.
Instead, if you interview someone and they seem like they can get the job done and are trainable, pull the trigger. Hire them, start them off slowly, and give them the chance they need and deserve to prove themselves. What’s the worst that could happen?
I’ll tell you what! It doesn’t work out and you fire them. And on that note…
Don’t make the mistake I did and let remote workers linger when they’re not pulling their weight. If someone is consistently missing deadlines, ignoring feedback, making the same mistakes over and over again after you’ve corrected them, or skimping on quality, pull the plug.
While there’s no rule of thumb (that I know of), in my experience, you’ll know within about a month whether or not a remote worker will be a good fit. Don’t jump the gun and nix them at the first sign of a mistake. But if roughly a month has passed and you’re not seeing substantial progress, it’s time to say goodbye.
(1) Before you give your remote workers access to anything, be sure they’ve signed something like an NDA/non-compete. I have a simple document that covers both of these that all virtual workers must sign before I’ll do anything.
(2) Need to hire one person? Hire two or three. It might very well take a few tries to find the right fit. Save yourself some time and hire a few people all at once. Odds are that one or two of them will quickly fall by the wayside. This happens to me every single time. I’ll hire three or even four people. One will make it.
(3) Two words: Paid training. If your people are giving your business their time, then they deserve to be compensated for it, even if they’re not turning in actual work yet.
(4) If you’ve decided to let someone go, be sure you remove access they have to any of your accounts first, just to be safe.
When to Do It
If all goes well through the end of the video interview, send them the necessary paperwork and get the ball rolling!
If really good things aren’t happening by the end of the first month, part ways. Keep it professional and sensitive.
While this doesn’t cover all of it, these three steps are a good indication of how to interview remote workers, hire them, and begin training them.
Remember, just like most other things in business and life, there will be a learning curve, and that’s okay. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay too.
Regardless, hiring was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business and my personal life, hands down. It allowed me to scale into making five figures a month and was the biggest stress-reliever I could ever find.
If you haven’t already, head on over to my YouTube and subscribe. You’ll find a lot more there!