Employers today often find there are a dearth of available candidates located in the exact geographic location where they would like to post a job. This is but one of many reasons for the increase of telecommuting in today’s workforce. By allowing telecommuting, the employer is greatly expanding the geographic reach for candidates, since they could theoretically be located anywhere.
If you’ve ever tried to hire someone for a position that is known to be a telecommuting role, you know that this presents unique challenges. After all, not only will you need to assess whether the candidate can perform the job functions well, but also whether they’re well suited for the additional requirements that come with telecommuting, such has high-level communication skills and the ability to self-motivate.
Here are the first 5 tips for hiring telecommuting employees:
- Take logistical telecommuting needs into account when crafting the job description. For example, if it’s critical for this person to work during normal business hours for a specific time zone, say so. Note how much travel will be required. Be clear if there are any geographic limitations. Note what types of equipment the individual will be required to furnish.
- Also take personal telecommuting needs into account when crafting the job description. This person will likely need to have great communication skills, to be self-motivated and proactive, to have the ability to work independently with minimal guidance, and to be very disciplined to meet deadlines and/or other goals. While these skills may come in handy for many jobs, they’re more critical for remote workers who don’t have as much external pressure on a daily basis.
- Plan ahead for the fact that your applicants will likely not be local candidates. If your organization has a policy of in-person interviewing, for example, know that you may have to budget for travel expenses to cover the costs of bringing a nonlocal candidate in for an interview. This means the logistics of the interview process may change completely. Another option is to consider utilizing video call options during interviews to retain some of the in-person interviewing benefits, such as the ability to see facial expressions and body language.
- Be careful of inadvertently asking discriminatory questions of candidates who will be working from home. It’s a fair concern that a home-based employee may have distractions. (Though, don’t forget that office-based employees have plenty of distractions, too!). What is critical, however, is not making assumptions and asking questions that may imply a discriminatory bias, such as whether the candidate has children at home.
- When trying to assess whether an applicant is well suited to working from home, ask questions that directly address this, and don’t make assumptions. For example, ask about their experience working remotely and ask them for examples of how they have managed team communications from a remote work site in the past. Explain the requirements of the job (such as high speed Internet or a quiet workspace) and ask whether these can be accommodated. It’s also OK to assess how comfortable the applicant is with basic troubleshooting of his or her own technology problems—IT problems are nearly inevitable, after all—because you won’t have someone on-site who can do it. It may not be a deal-breaker, but this type of question can let you see how he or she will handle small issues that arise that may occasionally be a barrier to productivity. Also consider asking other questions that are related to the ability to self-manage, such as questions related to time management and being self-motivated.