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How to hire employees remotely

Good planning and an intentional approach go a long way

5-minute read

Remote work has obvious practical impacts on hiring. Still, with fewer opportunities for informal interactions, the most significant change may be that employers will have to be even more deliberate about how they recruit, onboard, and integrate new team members.

“Start from the same good fundamentals of traditional in-person hiring,” says Adam Nalepa, Senior Business Advisor at BDC Advisory Services. “That’s key.”

“Write a clear job description and a compelling job posting to attract candidates, and make sure your process is well defined in terms of the stages involved and how many interviews you’ll be doing,” he says. “Then you can focus on doing those things remotely.”

Be intentional about every interaction

Remote hiring may be a new experience for employers and candidates alike. According to Nalepa, explaining each step of the process will help get everyone on the same page.

Much of the non-verbal information people exchange face-to-face can get lost over digital media. It is, therefore, essential to approach interactions with extra intentionality. During the interview phase, that can be as simple as letting the candidate know what’s happening off-screen on a video call.

You might be taking notes, and your keyboard or notepad is offscreen; someone might misread you looking away from the camera as not paying attention. They could think the interview is going poorly when it’s simply you writing things down.

For people who will eventually work on-premises, Nalepa suggests conducting the video interview from the workplace—to give a feel for the environment.

During onboarding, Nalepa recommends setting up virtual meetings between the new person and other team members. He says that assigning collaborative work is also a great way to establish rapport and integrate a new hire into the team.

Try not to throw tasks at the new person. Ease them in and assign an onboarding buddy—someone to whom they can ask questions and who can acquaint them with company policies and norms.

Don’t skip onboarding

It can be easy to overlook the onboarding process for new remote workers.

However, all the steps of an in-person onboarding should be included in a virtual onboarding process. The goal is to familiarize new hires with the company, the team, and their role. The main difference is that this process will be conducted through online platforms and resources.

“Making employees feel part of the team is crucial,” says Nalepa. “It empowers them and makes them more committed to the company’s success.”

Without proper onboarding, employee turnover increases and loss of productivity occurs. It also decreases employee engagement, which can cost you large sums of money every year. Nalepa suggests having a clear and complete 90-day roadmap for onboarding.

"Every entrepreneur wants their new employees to be productive sooner than later,” says Adam Nalepa. “To achieve this, it is crucial to stage a remarkable employee experience that begins on day one.”

Set clear goals for your remote workers

Successful onboarding requires new team members to understand what is expected of them and how to know they are succeeding. With remote working, Nalepa explains it may take more discussion and different touchpoints. He recommends keeping track of the progress of the new employees by having frequent individual touchpoints and pre-booking your meetings. When you can’t stop by someone’s desk to ask how it’s going and answer questions, you need to be deliberate about scheduling check-ins.

“Focusing on what is achieved is more important than how it gets done, which is less visible and less within your control. Be clear about what success looks like, for your sake and theirs.”

Nalepa says leaders need to get to know remote hires’ expectations and preferences: It helps the business get results and allows the leader to know they’re succeeding, too. Getting to know the new employees will also enhance their experience and engagement, adds Nalepa.

“Focusing on what is achieved is more important than how it gets done, which is less visible and less within your control.

Get the right technology for remote work

Depending on the job and the business, different technologies may be needed—from videoconferencing software and instant messaging apps to online collaboration platforms.

At the recruiting stage, Nalepa says that having a candidate-friendly website, monitoring email diligently to receive resumes, and being up to speed on videoconferencing technologies or platforms are all important.

“If you’re interviewing people on video, you don’t want to spend the first 10 minutes trying to get it to work,” he says. “You’re being interviewed, too—and the experience will form the candidate’s impression of your company.”

After hiring someone, if they need to be equipped with a laptop or other device, allow additional time for it to ship since many couriers are backed up, Nalepa says.

Set clear expectations

If you intend to eventually transition your remote hires to the physical workplace or a hybrid schedule, Nalepa suggests communicating it clearly and early.

It will be a change for the remote hires, who may have different expectations and preferences. When the transition happens, the way of working will change. It will require adjustment and support from both sides.

“Be transparent and honest regarding the possibility of working from the office in the future,” says Nalepa. You should inform the employee during the hiring process to avoid any frustration.

What does a remote job mean for you?

Depending on your business needs, some remote hires may stay as remote workers or begin working on a hybrid schedule. You may choose to hire talent from different areas and maintain them as remote or hybrid workers.

“Expanding your ‘talent geography’ can give you more options and diversity in your hiring process,” Nalepa says. “Just be mindful that every province has its own employment laws, and candidates in different markets may have different kinds of experience.”

Next step

Integrate new employees into the team and help them achieve the critical three-month milestone by downloading our free new staff onboarding checklist.

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