The Complete Guide to Remote Recruiting

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Even before COVID-19 precipitated the need for social distancing, remote work was on the rise. There’s been a 44% increase in remote work over the last five years. Research by Upwork shows that freelance workers are projected to be the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027. Remote work is becoming the norm, rather than the exception; as a result, recruiting teams need to shift their hiring process to find and attract the best remote candidates. Here’s how. 

In this remote recruiting guide:

What is remote recruiting?

Remote recruiting is the process of sourcing, screening, interviewing, and hiring employees who are geographically dispersed. Remote recruiting necessitates technology to connect with candidates no matter where they are located. 

More and more companies are embracing remote workforces. There are a number of benefits to hiring remote employees. Research has found that remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. One survey found 77% of workers were more productive when working remotely; 30% of those surveyed reported that they achieved “more in less time than when they worked in-house.” 

Likewise, it’s less expensive to hire a remote employee. Depending on the position level and your location, a company spends an average of $4,000 to recruit a new employee. Companies save on recruiting costs and can source talent for less when hiring remotely – as well as save on relocation benefits. It’s estimated that a fully-functional remote engineering workforce will save between $11,000 up to $50,000 per employee, per year. “Talent who works at home does not require any office space, computing equipment, coffee, and covering of commutes,” notes one blog

Remote recruiting also results in higher employee engagement, which is tied to lower turnover and improved brand loyalty. Research firm Gartner found that “By 2020, organizations that support a ‘choose-your-own-work-style’ culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10%.”  Younger employees value flexibility in their career; remote work is one way to deliver that promise. Allowing your employees to determine when and where they work enforces self-motivation and engagement – inevitably boosting retention rates. 

Remote recruiting results in a more engaged, more productive workforce with lower HR overhead costs. It’s a win-win for both the company and the employee. So how do you get started attracting the best remote employees?

Remote recruiting

How to attract remote employees

If this is your company’s first time hiring remotely, the first step is to expand how and where you source resumes. There are two things needed to help you attract remote candidates: the first is a strong employer brand; the second is access to new job boards specifically targeting remote workers. 

Build an employer brand

You must have a strong employer brand before you begin hiring remotely.  Remote candidates are relying on web search and online resources to learn everything they can about your company. Make sure your website and social media pages are optimized with lots of information about your company culture, benefits, mission, and more. Include employee testimonials, add videos from a team-offsite, and dive into the values that make your company unique. 

Expand your job posting

Next, expand your job listings to new job boards. Here are a few remote job boards to get you started: 

There are other ways to expand your outreach to remote candidates. Connect with a coworking space to advertise your job to its members. Ask your employees to send the position out to their networks – and make it clear that working from home or telecommuting is an option. You can also share open positions widely on social media (and in remote work Facebook groups like Digital Nomads Around the World or Female Digital Nomads). Some recruiters even post in Meetup groups dedicated to certain professions or interests – Lisbon Google Developers, for example. 

Update the language in your job descriptions

The job description is a key part of attracting remote candidates – and how you talk about remote positions will vary in addition to where you promote an open role. Be transparent about what you’re seeking: is the position remote-first, remote-friendly, or mixed remote? Are you looking for employees to work on a certain time zone? Are there any travel requirements for team retreats or quarterly meetings? Let candidates self-select based on your office’s remote work policy. 

Make sure to clearly delineate your company’s philosophy toward remote work. A high-level description of your communication processes, as well as a few sentences about why a role is remote and what your organization’s remote work culture will help a candidate get a sense of whether they’re a good fit “Because they’ll be working remotely, it’s important for these candidates to know what they can expect when it comes to communication and collaboration. This will help weed out candidates who are not ready to collaborate in this kind of hyper-communicative environment,” writes Recruitee.

Remote recruiting

How to screen remote employees

It’s more likely than not that a remote-friendly role will attract a ton of candidates. You should expect to treat remote hiring like a high-volume hiring event. The screening step will help your hiring team quickly and efficiently identify the best candidates. 

Focus on talent, rather than potential

Remote workers need to be ready to go from day one. In contrast to hiring in-office workers, remote employees already have to have a certain level of experience.

Everyone talks about hiring great people, but in an office culture, you have the luxury of hiring potentially great people that haven’t quite proven themselves yet. You can hire someone straight out of school who’s really smart and give that person hands-on mentorship and guidance so that he or she becomes great over time,” explains HelpScout

Potential is great – but remote workers need to focus, be self-motivated, and work productively without constant oversight. 

Of course, there will always be opportunities to provide professional development to remote workers. However, remote workers frequently work in different time zones; and as a result, they need the skills and experience necessary to complete a project without much oversight or hand-holding. 

Use a skills assessment

There’s a fair amount of uncertainty that comes with screening someone remotely. How can you make sure a candidate is as talented as their application makes them seem? Use a skill test or talent assessment

A skills test will ask a variety of questions designed to mimic how a candidate will perform once hired to a particular role. The best skill tests include questions that can be answered by someone who is already doing the job. Assessments can simulate many on-the-job capabilities: coding, copywriting, sales, or customer service, and even deliver insight into less tangible skills like teamwork and leadership. 

The best way to predict performance with remote candidates is to test job-related skills in context, through an immersive simulation that goes beyond the resume. Skill tests give candidates the opportunity to show off their capabilities, rather than simply describe them. And, many skill tests have the benefit of being self-administered. Candidates across time zones can take a skill test at their own convenience. 

Vervoe’s skill assessment platform allows hiring managers to select questions from a library of content or design questions based on the specific role. Then, AI will score completed tests using a multi-layered approach: Vervoe’s algorithm, for instance, ranks candidates on how well they performed. No one is filtered out for having missed a certain benchmark. Recruiters receive an ordered list of lots of candidates that includes everyone, so no one misses out on being considered for the next round. 

How to interview remote employees

Whereas a typical hiring process might include multiple interviews, remote hiring relies more on the screening process to eliminate some of the virtual interview steps. An online interview platform will fill in the need for an in-depth interview in the final stages of the hiring process. 

Use the interview to assess the candidate’s readiness for a remote role. Some things you may want to ask – in addition to your typical interview questions – include: 

  • What distractions do you typically face, and how do you handle them? 
  • What productivity tools do you use to stay on track? 
  • When are you most productive during the day (e.g., morning, night)? 
  • How do you maintain a work/life balance?
  • How do you stay motivated without in-person supervision?
  • What would you do if you had an urgent work-related issue and the team was offline?

It’s essential to get a sense of a person’s comfort in self-managing, avoiding burnout, and experience in using remote project management tools. If someone hasn’t worked remotely before, you may want to ask why they’ve decided to make the switch now. Remote work is often a lot more challenging than working in an office; so make sure a candidate isn’t seeing this as an opportunity to sleep in on your dime. 

Do a reference check

Though reference checks aren’t as widely used as they used to be, many experts recommend doing a reference check during your remote hiring process. Reference checks are nearly always positive, so don’t expect to find any skeletons. But, by asking the right questions, a reference check can tell you what it would be like to work with a candidate, how your team can support them remotely, and how to get the best from a candidate. 

As you complete your final round interviews, contact a person’s references to ask for concrete examples of how each individual works independently. Can they manage their time effectively? Do they need a lot of oversight? Can the reference provide a time when the candidate took initiative? When did the candidate ask for help, and were they proactive in finding the guidance they needed? These questions and more can add more color to a candidate’s application.

How to screen remote employees during remote recruiting

How to retain remote employees

Remote employees aren’t that different from their office-based colleagues, but they do need different resources. Make sure that you’re crafting a culture that shows appreciation for their hard work. 

Offer location-based compensation

Salary and other benefits must be both fair and attractive depending on where a new hire is based. Companies all over the world are competing for remote candidates; keep in mind that a potential new hire may have multiple offers. Account for the varied cost of living from country to country. An employee based in Singapore, the most expensive city to live in, will have different salary requirements than Lisbon, a relatively inexpensive city

Benefits are a big draw for any candidate, but remote workers have different needs than your in-office team. It goes without saying that free snacks and a pool table in the break room don’t matter to remote workers. Think about benefits that will matter most to someone working in a virtual office: 

  • Health and life insurance
  • A hot-desking plan at a coworking space
  • Spotify Premium or an Apple gift card so they can listen to tunes while they work
  • Professional development opportunities
  • A vacation plan 

Provide the same opportunities as in-office employees

One of the biggest fears faced by remote workers is that they will be overlooked for professional development advancement. Gallup’s research found that “career growth opportunities” is the number one reason why employees leave their company. Remote workers want the same chance at promotions, training, mentorship, and bonuses as their in-office counterparts. But, when they’re out of sight – it’s easy for managers to let remote workers fall out of mind. 

Make sure to provide feedback often to your remote team. “Compared with employees who work remotely 60% to 80% of the time but spend some time in the office, fully remote workers are 29% less likely to strongly agree that they have reviewed their greatest successes with their manager in the past six months,” said Gallup.

To retain remote employees, make regular feedback sessions part of your workflow. Offer access to online development opportunities, and make internal job postings available through email or Slack. 

Software for remote recruiting

As you go digital with your remote recruiting, these tools can help you find, attract, and hire candidates from all over the world. 

[Read more: How To Select The Best Recruiting Software — Free Checklist]


The complete guide to remote recruiting 1

Big enterprises, like Visa, Skechers, and Equinox, use SmartRecruiters to provide a great candidate experience, with social media integrations, tools for collaborating within the hiring team, and applications that make it easy to communicate with large pools of applicants. Candidates love SmartRecruiters’ straightforward application process.  


The complete guide to remote recruiting 2

Workable’s applicant tracking system uses machine learning with more than 40 different integrations to help small and medium businesses improve their sourcing. If you’re looking to expand your search, Workable includes access to more than 200 free and premium job boards, as well as more than 700 job description templates and integrations that can complete background checks for you.


The complete guide to remote recruiting 3

Lever offers a “collaborative applicant tracking system.” For big recruiting and hiring teams, this tool empowers organizational-level outreach, giving employees the chance to help choose candidates, suggest referrals, and bring in new hires that will integrate into the company culture quickly.


The complete guide to remote recruiting 4

Vervoe’s AI-powered skill assessments filter top candidates for the job – as defined by their capabilities, not what’s on their resume. Turn assessments into job auditions with relevant and engaging assessments for any role. Recruiters can design questions or choose from a library of skills assessments to test lots of candidates on technical and non-technical skills like coding and sales, as well as soft skills such as attention to detail and teamwork. The platform automatically ranks candidates based on how well they perform the on-the-job simulation. Recruiters can quickly identify and move the right people through the hiring process. 


The complete guide to remote recruiting 5

AllyO offers AI recruiting software with a scheduling bot and an interview module. The platform is excellent for high volume recruiting, introducing automation at every corner. From capturing applications through mobile and text recruiting, to screening and assessments and then scheduling and hiring, the entire flow is automated. The platform includes CRM integrations, analytics and reporting. 

Every Time Zone

The complete guide to remote recruiting 6

There is nothing more frustrating than missing an interview because you did the time zone conversion wrong. Every Time Zone automatically converts the time for you. Just say what time and day you want to schedule the interview in your time zone, and the link you send to a remote recruit will calculate the difference automatically. The candidate will get a calendar request specific to their time zone. It’s that easy. 

Hello Sign 

The complete guide to remote recruiting 7

Need to sign contracts with your remote employees? HelloSign offers legally-binding eSignatures for new hire agreements, NDAs, and more. Their user-friendly platform can send contracts securely via email and guides you through pre-loaded templates to make it easy for every stakeholder to complete their signature process. 


The complete guide to remote recruiting 8

Taleo is truly a full-stack employer marketing, sourcing, and onboarding tool. After being acquired by Oracle for nearly $2 billion in 2012, this tool has expanded to include recruitment marketing with internal referrals, as well as automated features that manage the entire recruitment process through employee onboarding. For recruiters seeking a tracking system that goes beyond the applicant phase, Taleo is a great option. 


The complete guide to remote recruiting 9

PayScale is a salary calculator that can help you attract candidates with the right offer. The database pulls market rates for different positions, industries, sized companies, and more to give you a good sense of what salary level will help you sign a new hire. Note that PayScale only considers cost of living within the US.  

Which companies allow you to work from home?

There are dozens of companies that allow you to work from home. Here are just a few with remote work or telework policies in place (before COVID-19): 

Related articles

Hiring Resources
Emily Heaslip

The Ultimate Guide to Diversity Hiring

Towards the end of 2020, Fortune Magazine announced that the publication would consider a new metric in their ranking of

Video interviewing is a feature, not a solution