What Skills to Look for in Remote Employees

Posted on 05.27.2020

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Throughout the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many organizations have moved to remote work wherever possible.

While some businesses have frozen hiring, others have maintained it — or even increased it if demand has risen.

However, this can pose its own challenge as these companies may now be hiring employees who will also be expected to work from home. Furthermore, new hires may not have any direct work-from-home experience to draw on — so how can you tell whether they will be a good fit, both for the role and for remote work while necessary?

You need to be able to assess their hard skills required for the job, but also go beyond. Read on for how to do this…

  • Identify Soft Skills
  • Job Interview Questions
  • Skills Assessments
  • Employment Reference Checks
  • Employment and Education History Verifications

To start, you may want to identify the soft skills that will be most important to this role — both for remote work and otherwise. If they are interacting with clients over email, for example, they will need to be able to write professional, clear messages.

Communication could also be even more important if they are expected to provide information or work with team members remotely.

Honesty and transparency are also key — especially depending on your company’s work-from-home policies. If you are allowing employees to make their own hours or they need to be available during a certain timeframe (such as 9-to-5) you need to ensure that they are reliable.

Fast Company also identified organization, technical prowess, collaboration, and self-motivation as being particularly important skills for remote staff.

Even if a candidate does not have specific remote work experience, you can still assess their soft skills by asking different interview questions.

For instance, to gauge communication ability, you might ask them about a time they had to work with someone who was based in a different location. To gauge the ability to meet a deadline, you could ask about a scenario where the candidate had to turn around work on short notice.

To assess self-motivation, you could ask about instances where they had to manage a project alone, or with less direction.

By focusing on behavioural questions, you can look for cues about how the candidate functions when working independently and without direct supervision.

While certain hard skills can be gleaned from a resumé or experience, you may want to ensure that the candidate’s skills are at the level you need.

Increasingly, hiring managers are turning to skill assessments to measure this.

For instance, if the position you’re hiring needs to do a lot of writing, you might ask for a writing sample.

Workable shared an example for an Office Manager candidate with an exercise where the candidate was hypothetically in Athens and had to arrange a meeting between the CEO in Boston and a business partner in San Francisco. The applicant had to draft the calendar invitation and take a screenshot.

When you are hiring for remote positions, employment references can be even more important. Even if the reference did not work with the candidate remotely, they can still vouch for important abilities — such as punctuality, attention to detail, reliability, trustworthiness, communication, and more.

By asking the right questions, references can give employers valuable insights into their candidates and potentially look for ways to offer extra support to the final choice.

Employment and education history checks are always an important part of the pre-employment screening process, but especially so when hiring remote workers. Simply put, you want to ensure that the people you are hiring are honest.

If they are bluffing on their resumé, can you trust them not to bluff about a client situation that you might not be able to verify? Even if the answer is “yes,” you still need to address the issue.

This is also crucial for roles that require a professional license or specific designation.

What skills have you found are most important for remote work? Will you be changing your hiring process in any way? Let us know on social media. Triton Canada is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Ask us about our pre-employment screenings today. We take care of reference checks, employment and education verifications, and more so you don’t have to.

Learn about our solutions by calling 1-844-874-8667 or visiting www.tritoncanada.ca.