By Robby Slaughter
Although we’re experiencing a remote-work revolution, the majority of companies and jobs currently don’t have an option to telecommute. Of course, there are employees who simply prefer to come into the office every day rather than work elsewhere, but you should make remote work part of your hiring process because it tells you more about candidates than almost anything else you can do.
To start out, let’s review the typical recruiting procedure at most organizations. There are (at most) three stages: a review of credentials, an interview (or series of), and speaking to references. During the first step, employers look at self-produced claims of expertise and experience, such as resumes or LinkedIn profiles. In the second stage, we ask candidates a bunch of questions, and based on their answers and overall attitude towards the company and position, we consider the best fit for both company culture and the position. And in the final phase, we call individuals that the applicant provided to seek their respected opinions of the potential candidate.
If this doesn’t seem like a viable system upon reflection, you might want to take a long, hard look at your own employee directory from a few years ago. How many of those people are still there? How many of them were never a good fit in the first place? And how many of them are struggling, which you could have predicted by doing a better job during the hiring process?
An alternate approach is to add a fourth step: ask candidates to participate in workplace activities, but to do so remotely. Give them a project to complete on their own, and have them stay in touch throughout the process. You’ll want to provide some form of compensation, of course, but this is a great way to learn about the character of the candidate. Do they meet deadlines? Do they call in with questions incessantly, or solve problems on their own? Do they engage the team appropriately? And finally, how is the quality of their work?
Even though you should use remote work as part of the hiring process, you don’t need to insist that all employees work remotely. Rather, it’s powerful to recognize that people who are capable of managing their own time and motivating themselves without being at the office tend to be the best type of people for virtually any type of organization.
But if you are hiring someone to join your remote team, why not give them a trial to see how well they work remotely? Why not ask them to do some work so you can learn how they approach remote work?
The best way to see if someone has the capacity to do something is not to ask them if they can do it, but to actually put it into action. This is the way we certify almost everything in the modern world. Ask your candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and their professionalism by doing some work remotely. Show your commitment and professionalism by finding a way to pay them and evaluating them fairly.
This will get you better workers who have greater respect for you and for each other. Make remote work part of your hiring process, and take note of the difference it makes.
About the Author
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. Robby runs a business improvement consulting company. His focus is helping organizations and individuals to become more efficient, more effective and more satisfied at work. Robby is a regular contributor in several regional magazines and has been interviewed by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His latest book is The Unbeatable Recipe for Networking Events. You can read more and see a complete list of books here.