HR Tips - Hiring Remote Employees - Zupnick Associates

(By: Brittany Brooks)

Hiring remote employees is the new normal as we begin to move past the pandemic, however, it doesn’t make conducting interviews easier.

Most managers and HR professionals would rather have a face-to-face meeting to read the applicant’s body language and get a real sense of their personality, but this isn’t the case.

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey and found that roughly 58% of Americans are still working from home and expected to grow to 36.2 million Americans by 2025. 

It’s safe to say that it’s time to sharpen up our remote interviewing skills to help you ensure you’re hiring the right remote employee. We’ll also include a tip for the undesirable, firing an employee.

Here are a few HR Tips for hiring and firing a remote employee:

1.) Enforce the dress code

The pandemic made us comfortable at home and maybe a little too comfortable in front of the computer screen. There were employees in their pajamas or hadn’t worn a real pair of pants in the last two years.

That was fine then, but let’s bring some professionalism back to the remote work environment. In the interview invitation, include the company dress code and expect them to adhere to the policy.

This doesn’t mean they have to wear professional business attire, but they should be just as presentable as if they were walking into the office. If they log on wearing their Metallica t-shirt with a disheveled appearance, they either:

  1. Didn’t thoroughly read the invitation
  2. Or didn’t take the dress code seriously

Whatever the reason, this isn’t the employee you want. You want someone that follows direction and takes their job seriously.

2.) Body language exists digitally

There’s an assumption that body language is harder to read when conducting interviews remotely, but that’s not true. You may not be able to see specific hand placements, but you can still observe:

  • Gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Posture
  • Eye and body movements

Pay attention to how the interviewee is sitting. Are they sitting up and alert or slouching and dismissive?

When the potential employee is leaning forward, it signifies that they’re engaged and invested in the conversation. Being relaxed and sitting tall displays confidence.

Are they making good “digital” eye contact? Yes, it does exist, and it’s a great indicator of engagement and if the interviewee is paying attention.

At the same time, watching out for simple gestures can let you get a feel for their personality, mindset, and mood.  

3.) Communication and Accountability

Ask questions centered around accountability and how the prospective new hire communicates. 

For communication:

  • What would you do if there was a communication breakdown at work?
  • If an email was confusing, what would be your first thought process?

For accountability:

  • What does accountability mean to you?
  • How do you stay motivated to complete your work?

Good communication skills and accountability can enhance your trust when employees work from home. 

Good communication suggests you won’t have to worry about chasing the new hire down for updates or information you need because they’re already in contact with you.

Accountability is more than taking responsibility for what went wrong or owning the tasks assigned. It’s about taking responsibility for the finished product and desired outcome. 

Example:

  • It’s 4:15 pm and the employee must complete the figures for tomorrow’s meeting. If they hold themselves accountable, they’ll be dedicated to getting the figures done before the start of the meeting, no matter what.

Otherwise, they might send an email at 4:56 pm (or the following day) informing you that they were swamped with other tasks, and you’ll get the figures as soon as possible, which may not be before that meeting.

Firing Remote Employees

Of course, when you’re hiring remote employees, there may come a time when you might have to fire one as well.

One of the first steps is to be prepared to conduct the termination. Connect with IT to schedule the cutoff time for their passwords, company platforms, email account, and anything else the employee had access to.

Make sure to have a witness on the video call, the same way you would if you were firing an employee in person. 

Most importantly, brush up on your firing etiquette for the dignity and mental health of the employee and to protect your company from possible legal liabilities.

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