The Top 5 Traits of the Best Remote Employees and How to Identify Them

Hiring Remote Employees

One of the most appealing advantages to hiring remote employees is the ability to recruit from a limitless pool of talent. Imagine having the ability to hire the absolute best candidate in any field, from anywhere in the world.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

So what does the ideal remote worker look like? Believe it or not, a lot of people simply aren’t cut out for the lifestyle of a remote worker. As a hiring manager, it’s important to understand what qualities and traits are important when it comes to recruiting the ideal remote worker.

This article will detail everything to look for in a potential remote candidate, along with advice on how to find, interview and test remote employees. 

The Top 5 Traits of the Best Remote Employees

Before you begin the process of recruiting a new remote employee, it’s important to know what qualities to look for. Below are the top 5 traits of the most successful remote employees, along with how to identify them.

1. Highly self-motivated and proactive

You can’t be constantly looking over the shoulder of your remote employees to make sure they’re working hard. That’s why self-motivation and proactiveness are such important traits to look for when recruiting new hires.

How to tell if your candidate is self-motivated

hiring remote employees

If you’re unsure whether or not your potential new remote worker fits the bill, here’s a great test: Ask them about their passion projects. What do they enjoy working on in their spare time?

It doesn’t matter what the project is, only that the candidate shows drive and passion for something greater than themselves. This could be anything from a personal blog they’re writing to cooking classes they’re taking.

2. Excellent writing and communication skills

Most of the correspondence you’ll be having with your remote team will be via written chat or audio/video.

When hiring remote employees, the ideal candidate should be able to communicate their thoughts and ideas easily and clearly across all mediums, including spoken and written word.

Lack of proper communication skills can lead to misunderstandings about assignments, mistakes, inefficiency, and frustration for everyone. Make sure you have your bases covered here.

How to tell if your candidate is a good communicator

I recommend testing every potential new remote employee by asking them in-depth questions, both over the phone and via text. Questions can be anything from “What is the biggest challenge you faced at your last job, and how did you overcome it,” to “What is your favorite movie, and why?” Ask for both verbal and written responses to asses any strengths or weaknesses when it comes to communication skills.

3. Independent and a problem solver

hiring remote employees

If you’re thinking about hiring a remote employee in a different time zone, make sure they’re comfortable working independently and troubleshooting tasks on their own.

Take me, for example. I’m located in the U.S (PST). My direct superior is located in Hong Kong, which is a 16 hour time difference.

Despite a less than ideal overlap in terms of working hours, I’m able to maintain a high level of efficiency and productivity without guidance. To ensure your remote employees can do the same, look for candidates who are highly independent, quick learners and intuitive. The ideal candidate won’t shy away from tackling new tasks or learning new things on their own.

How to tell if your candidate is an independent problem solver

Here’s how to test for problem-solving skills and independence: Ask the potential candidate to complete a task they’ve never done before. This could be as simple as asking a designer to create an ad on a platform they’ve never used before, or as asking an IT expert to problem solve an HR issue.

Ideally, the problem you present to the potential new hire should be one that could actually arise during his or her employment. The goal is to see how well the candidate can think outside of the box.

When the task is complete, assess the candidate by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Were they able to complete the task within your time frame and to your expectations?
  2. Did they require extensive guidance when it came to how to complete the task?
  3. When faced with an unfamiliar problem, was their first instinct to troubleshoot the problem on their own?
  4. Did they use their skills and strengths to solve the problem in a unique way?
  5. Were they able to clearly communicate their process with you?

If “Yes” was your answer to most of the questions above, it’s safe to say your candidate is both independent and a problem solver.

4. Dependable and trustworthy

Trust and dependability are perhaps the two most important traits to look for when hiring remote employees. Because you can’t monitor your employees all day, you must be able to trust that they’re working to the standards you have set for them.

The ideal remote employee should value results and growth.

hiring remote employees

How to tell if your new remote employee is dependable and trustworthy

A good way to measure dependability is with deadlines and deliverables. It shouldn’t matter if a remote employee goes for a run midday or works odd hours, as long as they understand that results must come first. That being said, dependability and trust are harder traits to accurately assess from one single test.

For this reason, I recommend hiring all new remote employees on a 30 or 90-day freelance/contractor basis. This way there is less to lose if it turns out the remote lifestyle or company culture is not a fit.

5. They’ve worked remotely before

how to hire remote employees

Working remotely can be incredibly isolating for some people. When hiring remote employees, the ideal candidate should be familiar with the lifestyle (has worked remotely before) or at the very least, has a clear idea of what to expect.

I recommend being incredibly transparent with potential recruits about this. Make sure they can thrive working alone, and that they don’t easily get distracted or lonely.

Over to you

What traits do YOU look for when hiring new remote employees? Leave us a comment below and let us know if we missed anything.

If you’ve already found your ideal candidate, don’t forget to check out the 2nd part of our series in hiring remote workers, “How to Onboard Remote Employees.” This article walks you through a detailed, step-by-step plan for transitioning your new hire into your company smoothly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *