One of the benefits of remote working is being able to hire the best. But how do we find them and how will we know if they’ll be good a good fit? Hiring someone to work on a remote team is slightly different than hiring someone who will work in an office with you. There is an additional set of skills to scan for.

How to start


In both remote and co-located hiring, it’s useful to first explicitly define the kinds of people you want on your team. List the characteristics, skills, and values, you’re looking for, and then use that as a checklist during the interview process.

Where to find remote workers

Now that you know who you’re looking for, how do you find them? Hands down, word of mouth is the best way to go! Look for people in your networks… people you already know and trust. Friends of friends. If you don’t have anyone in your networks, try sites like UpworkFreelancer, and Guru. Click HERE for a complete list of online work sites.

What to look for in a great remote worker

In general, look for people who are:

  • PRO-ACTIVE COMMUNICATORS. People that will reach out when they need something.
  • RELIABLE AND RESPONSIVE. People who you know you can reach when needed.
  • DISCIPLINED. People who know how to prioritize their tasks and get things done.
  • TECH-COMFY. People who are comfortable with online apps, video conferencing, and instant messaging.
  • TIME-ZONE AWARE. People who are literate with talking in time zones.
  • SELF-LEARNERS. People who like to learn new things and will come to the table with new ideas.
  • EXPERIENCED. It’s not a complete no-no to hire people without any remote working experience, but it will take extra time and patience during the onboarding process.

Questions to ask virtual candidates

  • What kind of remote working experience do you have?
  • What do you like about working remotely?
  • What does your virtual office look like? What do you need to get your work done?
  • What does a typical day look like for you?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks?
  • What are some of your favorite online tools?
  • What annoys people most about your work?
  • What annoys you most about other people’s work?

Hiring tips

  • CREATE A SMALL HURDLE. In the job description, list something small the candidate should do or include with their response (i.e., a small task, or a question they should answer). The results are always enlightening.
  • USE A COMBO OF TECH. Because we lose important sensory information when we’re remote, it’s wise to interview each candidate using a combination of technologies (video calls, instant messaging,  email, phone, etc). This will help you understand their level of technical prowess and preferred style of communication.
  • DON’T JUST HAVE ONE CONVERSATION. Host a series of short interviews. Each conversation will have different team members depending on who is available at the time of the interview.
  • RECORD FOR THE TEAM. If the interviewee is ok with it, you might ask to record the conversations so other team members who couldn’t attend can still listen in. Note: never upload those conversations to public channels!
  • GOOGLE YOUR CANDIDATE. Look at their social media profiles. Know who you are hiring.
  • PERSONALITY FIT. Someone who is a better fit personally is better than someone who fits the skill set. Ask yourself “Would I want to spend 3 hours on a bus together with this person?”
  • HIRE THE BEST. Don’t settle on people because they are convenient. Focus on hiring only the best. Instead of hiring three ok people, it’s better to hire one outstanding person.

Tips to make your remote team successful

  • SCALE WISELY. When your company gets to a certain size, hire someone that can focus on hiring and culture.
  • FOCUS ON RESULTS. Shift from being time-oriented to results-oriented. It doesn’t matter how many hours you work as long as you’re producing quality results.
  • WORK OUT LOUD. Make your work visible in such a way that it might help others.
  • USE VIDEO. Whenever you have the ability and whenever it makes sense, turn the videos on. It will help get a better sense of who someone is and how they work..

Original transcript

Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Welcome to another episode, everyone. Thanks for being here. Last week I had the opportunity to give the Work Together Anywhere workshop in Crete, Greece, for a very forward-thinking, progressive, extremely impressive company called Knowit from Sweden. It was an internal conference team-building event that the company was hosting, and my workshop was one of the offerings. I was totally honored. On top of that, I’ve never been anywhere near that area of the world before. So it was very exciting for me to see a new place and to eat new foods and go hiking and swim in the Mediterranean because it’s still warm in that part of the world that was lovely. After the workshop, [inaudible – 00:58] and I were invited to join the company for dinner. And before dinner, we were sitting out on the beautiful terrace by the ocean, drinking a glass of wine. It’s a hard life, I know. And I was sitting next to a woman, and in our conversation, she asked me if you had to give me just the top three things that I could do to make my remote teamwork, what would it be? And I thought, “Great question.” And I really had to think about it because there are a lot of great tips. But this week, for you, I’m answering her question and distilling it down to the top three things that you can do to make your remote team successful. The first thing, and I think the most important thing, is to go from being time-oriented to results-oriented. The best example and the best resource that I can recommend is a podcast that Jacob Morgan did with Eric Severson who was the former co-chief human resource officer at The Gap. The episode is called forget work-life balance. It’s all about work-life integration. But it’s a great example of what results-oriented working looks like and what it can do for a company.

The second best tip that I can give is to work out loud, which is making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. Pilar Orti and I spent an entire podcast episode, number 48 on the 21st-century work-life podcast. And also John Stepper wrote a book about it called working out loud. So check out those resources.

And the third top tip that I can give for making your remote team successful is to use video. I know it’s not appropriate in every case, and I know there are a lot of situations where people don’t have that capability. But whenever you have the ability and whenever it makes sense, turn the videos on. It will help enormously. I can’t emphasize it enough. I see it over and over and over again. I’m convinced.

Okay, the top-three tips once again in summary. Go to a results-oriented work environment, work out loud, and turn the videos on. All right, that’s it for this week, short, sweet, and condensed. Stay tuned for next week when I have a great interview with Sococo, one of my absolute favorite online collaboration tools. Sococo is an awesome, awesome product, and their team was [inaudible – 03:26] interview. So stay tuned for that. A huge thanks to the inspiring Nick, the podcast monster, for keeping this podcast awesome. You can hire him to make you a star at podcastmonster.com. All right, until next week, be powerful.


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