How to make fewer mistakes when hiring remotely

In this article

Guest post by Juliana Rabbi.

Let’s face it: finding the right person to join the team is a challenge. First impressions about the candidate can be wrong, so we need to test and confirm this initial impression, from different perspectives, to confirm if the candidate is the right fit for us or not. But how to do it in a fast, efficient and not extremely expensive way?

A mistake in the hiring process will not only cost the company a lot of money, but it might also delay important project deadlines, overload other team members with extra work and make the recruiter hesitate about the way recruitment is done in the company. How to make things right regarding remote recruitment? Is it possible to get positive results and still make a good impression in all the candidates that apply to our job offers?

The social restrictions that came in response to the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly increased the general interest of job seekers regarding the location independent way of working. Even some job seekers who had never considered working remotely before are not only talking about it now, but already applying for remote jobs. This massive global change might bring in some great people to join our companies, but also others that are great workers, but not necessarily great remote workers.

I’ve worked in recruitment long enough to understand the pressure and high work volume that a recruiter has to manage. Still, none of that justifies bringing the wrong people on board, or just as bad, not finding anyone. There is no “magic formula” that will guarantee perfect results, but there are definitely ways that work most of the time, steps that consolidated location independent companies have used for a while and important aspects to cover, to avoid basic mistakes. Shall we dig into all of that?

Job Descriptions – When was the last time you took the time to review the job description you need to post? I confess that several times I was just using the same template, without evaluating if all that I’d written was really necessary. Don’t treat the job description as a “wish list to Santa”. Involve the Hiring Managers in the process of reviewing and rewriting the document, to ensure that the profile required is accurate. I know updating job descriptions is not the most fun part of the job, but it will be worth it!

Soft Skills x Hard Skills – Prioritize the soft skills during the recruitment process. Hard skills are easier to provide training for than soft skills are. Behaviour questions are aimed to evaluate the candidate’s behaviour in the past to predict future reactions, so they can provide a better understanding of how the person acts in different situations that could also happen in your company.

Less “guessing” and more “checking” – During the recruitment process, give the candidate practical activities to do, so you can actually see how the person works, manages their time, asks for help when necessary and the quality of the work delivered. Take the opportunity to also test if the candidate can communicate well using different mediums (like apps, email and video), to simulate as much as possible the tools and the environment that is used to communicate in the company. Use real time video interviews, written exercises and phone calls – the more you diversify the way to connect and get to know the other person, the better. To assess candidates’ job expertise, consider including skill tests, such as an accounting test assessment, to ensure you select the most proficient candidate for the accountant position.

What if the person doesn’t have previous remote work experience? – Be open to consider candidates without remote work experience. Several great candidates are willing to have their first fully remote work experience, but they never get the chance, as most of the companies reduce their options to the ones who are “already initiated” in the remote work world. Check the transferable skills, achievements, motivation, and ability to solve problems and to communicate. With those elements, the candidate probably has the basics covered to start a remote work career.

Take care of the onboarding process – Ensure there is a proper onboard system to receive the new team member. I have seen cases where a candidate was most likely the right person for the job, but the onboarding process was not structured in a way to set that person up for success, so all the time dedicated to the recruitment process went directly to the bin. An effective onboarding process will clarify expectations and guide the new recruit towards a proper integration into the organization. To summarize, don’t just “hope that it works out well” – make it happen!

Ask the right questions – There are bad HR professionals out there, so please don’t be one of them! Go beyond assumptions and avoid always using the same guidelines when interviewing candidates. Don’t hesitate to ask for more details instead of just accepting the initial reply the candidate gives you. Try to cover elements that are a common struggle among most remote workers, like loneliness, time management, communication, asking for help, etc.

Provide information about the company – Even assuming that the candidate will do their part, and do a deep research about the company (which we all know that is not always true), it’s beneficial to provide information about the company during the recruitment process. Sharing details about the culture, values, long term plans and structure is essential to help the candidate “picture themselves” as part of the team and doing the job. 

Provide information about salary range – Adding wage details in your job post is one way to start building trust with job candidates during the recruitment process, and to continue the loyalty of current employees who know exactly where they stand on the pay scale. It will take extra time and effort to find the right range and be more specific, but the results will pay off. Salary transparency attracts more diverse candidates and leads to more equitable pay for women, people of color, and other historically underpaid groups. As a part of an inclusive process to build trust in a remote environment, make sure to discuss important points such as payment methods. For example, if you pay with crypto, you can offer a cryptocurrency heatmap to help potential employees navigate better.

Cheaper is not only better – You might have your manager repeating daily that you should “save on the budget” as much as possible, to “help the company meet the established targets”, but choosing a candidate just because their rates are lower is extremely risky. Sacrificing talent, quality and culture will not only impact on the quality of the work but may also end up generating more costs. You might need to have this conversation with different people within the company to justify why moving ahead with an “expensive” candidate, when there is a “cheaper” option available, so be ready to present your arguments.

Get personal – Getting to know a few personal details about your candidates can help to build rapport and create trust. Opening with an icebreaker conversation at the beginning of the interview is a good moment to do so. It’s not something you should force, but you should be deliberate about it. It’s good to get to know your candidates in different aspects of their lives, and try to picture how they will fit into the company’s culture.

Treat the resume as one more element – Of course resumes are important in the recruitment process, but be careful not to give it way too much importance. Check and test the information written on the document (with specific tests, for example), and also take into consideration the experience of communicating with the candidate face to face. Some people look amazing on the paper, but they might lack something important that you are looking for.

“OK” x “Great” x “Perfect” – Going for the “OK” option can be the fastest way to close a position, and you might be dying to do so sometimes – especially if the recruitment process is taking longer than planned and the managers are putting extra pressure on your shoulders. Still, aim for the “great” candidate, the one who actually meets the standards, not the first one or the easiest one to find. There is a big difference between waiting for the “perfect” one, and settling for the “ok” one, so the middle ground is highly recommended.

LinkedIn is not the only place to find good people – I know we all spend hours a day there, searching and chatting with candidates, but it is good to remember that there are other options out there. Diversifying our sources to find candidates is necessary, because competition is high. Using Facebook and Twitter, for example, can be very effective in many cases. 

Personalize your communication – Avoid generic emails. We all get annoyed with emails that clearly will be sent automatically – even if they are better than no email at all. It will cause us extra work to be more specific and personal, that is true, but the results will pay off.

 The behaviour of Hiring Managers makes all the difference – The way managers in the company treat the candidates, conduct interviews and communicate in general is a decisive aspect in the recruitment process to create a positive, respectful and professional experience to whomever is considering joining the company. It’s important to also think about the long term impact on the candidate, and remember that a bad review on Google or Glassdoor can definitely have negative repercussions on the company’s reputation. 

Recruiters’ behaviour also matters – It is easy to blame Hiring Managers for an unprofessional behaviour towards the candidates, such as “ghosting” candidates and never giving feedback about the process, right? Sharing misleading information with the candidates or changing the work conditions in the middle of the process are also things that for sure will make us look bad in front of the candidate. I am aware that unforeseen circumstances completely out of our control may take place in the company, and sometimes a recruiter is only the vehicle sharing that information with the candidates, and we probably can’t change that. But I am referring to the few small things in our control that we do have the power to change, such as keeping the candidate posted if there is any major delay in the proces, in order to create a better experience for the candidates.

Don’t blame candidates for your own mistakes – If you forgot to mention that the interview would be via Zoom, don’t blame the candidate for taking 10 extra minutes of your time to be ready to be interviewed by you on Zoom. Be clear about the time zone in which you are scheduling the meetings to avoid confusion and save everyone’s time. Creating a checklist of details to check before confirming any interviews is an easy and effective solution. 

Treat rejected candidates well – If you ask candidates to take an online test or something that requires their time, you should give them some feedback afterwards. At least offer them the chance to receive feedback, and they can choose if they want to receive it or not. Closure is important in every recruitment process, and it will definitely work in your favour to make a great impression on the candidate – even when the person was not selected. Anyone who was a candidate before and didn’t receive any feedback from a process will agree with me that this is extremely important, right?

Don’t do it all alone – Involve the Hiring Managers and other members of the team in the process. It’s common to hear from managers that they are “too busy to contribute with recruitment”, but this approach is wrong, and the consequences will be bad for everybody. The recruiter should lead the process, come up with ideas and make sure deadlines are met, but the more the team sees the process of finding the right person to join them as a collective task, the better. They can also use AI solutions for recruitment to streamline their workflow.

The previous information applies for companies that already recruit for remote job positions and for the ones who are doing the transition to remote teams now. Companies considering going remote at some point in the future could follow the same steps, to start doing things right from the beginning. The main goal is increasing the quality of the recruitment process for any company, while/by creating a stronger engagement with the different steps from all parts involved and minimizing biases.

Remote work isn’t a fit for everyone. That means that not all candidates who “want to give it a try” will perform well and serve your company properly.  The good news is:  normally team members are committed to the work because they value the benefits they have working remotely, so let’s keep an optimistic mindset about the process, and use our “HR power” to improve the way things are done!

About the author

Juliana Rabbi is a recruiter-turned-career consultant. After working for + 15 years as a Recruiter and part of the Human Resources teams in multinational corporations all over the world, she has been working remotely for the past 7 years and now helps professionals land jobs that make them happier. She also provides support to location independent companies to improve their processes and hire the right candidate. Juliana is a keynote speaker and she shares weekly videos on her YouTube channel and daily content on social media, while travelling the world and working. You can find more about her at

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