When employers hire remote employees, they look-out for the ones with a more diverse set of skills other than the prescribed skills for the job role. Of course, the skill sets required to do the job are primary and are must to get hired. Having said that, one should remember that if the job is remote you are also evaluated on your capability to work in a remote environment. Do not get carried away by the notion that you can "easily" work from home at your comfort. Working remotely needs sheer planning and effective execution.
Here’s what an HR looks for while hiring remote employees
As told above, beyond the skills that the job role requires, you will be required to showcase your ability to successfully work in a remote environment. Check if you have these traits.
- Communication skills - As a remote team member, you have to be able to communicate - quickly, directly and on topic. Nobody can afford to waste time, the issue has to be addressed quickly and correctly. A person who is not a great communicator of thoughts could hamper the overall team’s productivity and efficiency. That is why HR evaluates an applicant’s communication skills including his language efficiency if the job is remote.
- Responsive Attitude - Smooth workflow in a remote environment requires a remote worker to be highly responsive. Your manager/colleague cannot be chasing you down when they need an answer or information. Remote workers should always be reachable during working hours (set by the company or you as a worker).
- Integrity - Building trustworthy relationships is essential while working remotely. The team is completely dependent on each individual’s ability to get work done on time. If a team member says a task will be ready at 11:00 and it’s not the team is most likely to face the snowball effect and there would be a missed deadline or worse. A team member who is not honest and reliable can do more damage than an external factor.
- Self-starters - When there are flexible work hours everybody works on their own schedule. There may be less overlapping working hours with you and your team. You won't have a boss hovering over you to make sure you stay on task and stay motivated. You must be able to solve problems on your own, be productive, and accomplish your tasks day in and day out.
- Natural problem solvers - Operations are smooth only when remote team members do not come up to the manager for every problem. Texting them 20 times a day on Slack for a minor problem is not expected from a remote worker. As a remote worker, you need to analyze and resolve problems on your own. You need to have an inbuilt initiative to seek the answer to any problem you face. Only if the problem is not solved after several attempts you should escalate and ask for help.
- Ability to prioritize - Someone who works hard and is well organized but spends all their time on unimportant tasks is not the ideal remote worker. To be effective, you need to decide what tasks are urgent and important and focus on them. Which is why a good remote worker knows what needs to get done and delivered first.
- Time management - If you are used to 9-5 working hours regardless of the workload, then you will need to make extra efforts adjusting in the remote world. Time management and meeting deadlines is a huge part of remote work. You will not be evaluated on the hours you put in at work but on the results you produced while working remotely.
- Focus - Distraction can be easy when you choose your own working space but it will also interfere with your work delivery. You need to stay focused in order to complete the tasks assigned to you. Prepare your personal to-do lists to help you stay on track.
- Cultural fit- Every remote organization has a company culture; like every other organization in the world. It is important for an employee to fit into a company’s cultural values. If you are not aligned with the culture it will get difficult for you to survive in the remote environment.
"Buffer has 10 very specific cultural values and we only hire remote employees who fit into these cultural values." - Courtney Seiter, Director of People @ Buffer.
Challenges you may face in a remote job interview
- Language barriers - Think of a situation where your employer is taking the interview in a language you are not fluent in, or you do not understand your employer's accent well; this can be a disadvantage for you. Make sure you put your preferences and list your languages carefully.
- No face-to-face interaction - When you are interviewed over a phone call or skype call, you can only rely on your skills to get the job. There is no face-to-face interaction, you need to find a way to deliver your personality through the phone, which can be a challenge for some people.
- Personality assessment is difficult - You cannot assess your interviewer's personality virtually and he cannot assess yours. This often makes it difficult for you to present your best self.
Overcome the remote work challenges
You could possess all the ideal remote worker qualities but still face some challenges while applying for a remote job.
Courtney Seiter (Director of People at Buffer) says that you can overcome these challenges by understanding the company’s culture. Every company has a pre-defined hiring process and understanding the culture increases your chances of getting hired.
Step into an HR’s mind and learn what exactly they expect from a remote employee. Watch what they say about hiring.