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September 5, 2012
5 Tips for Successfully Hiring Virtual Employees
Your small business is always looking to save, and hiring virtual employees is a great way to do that. However, whether you’re considering HR outsourcing or just a virtual assistant, sometimes recruiting software isn’t enough for hiring a virtual employee — you have to rethink your process.

Without the employee within immediate reach, you can’t guarantee what they’re doing; if they’re being productive or just wasting your time. So, in the interview process, you want to be sure you’re asking all the right questions to qualify each applicant. Consider these five tips.

Look for Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is an important trait to have in this ever-evolving business world. The term is defined as having self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management. Be sure to ask the right questions to ensure that virtual employees have emotional intelligence.
  • “Can you tell me about a time…” Asking questions in this fashion gives you an idea of how an empoyee will react in certain conditions or how they handle certain situations. As a solo employee, you’ll want to be sure they can handle clients and customers alone.
Assess Their Digital Abilities
In a virtually connected relationship, your employee needs to have a significant knowledge base of social platforms and Internet communications. This is your only means of connecting, making it an incredibly important skill to have.
  • Inquire about the social platforms they’re involved in and other experience in digital communications within the work environment. As a remote employee, you won’t have access to them directly if instruction is needed for email, etc., and this is an easy way to stay in touch — you can create private groups on Facebook and LinkedIn for these communications.
Remember, Self-Motivation is Key
While motivation is a necessary skill for any successful employee working of their own accord, a virtual employee especially needs to have the ability to self-manage and motivate. Because they will likely be working on hours that are preferable to them, you want to be sure deadlines are still met on time.
  • This is a great opportunity to take advantage of professional references. Inquire how the employee worked on solo tasks, how they were with meeting deadlines, etc. While an employee may feel they are self-motivated, that trait may not actually come through in a working environment.
Review Previous Environments
The realm of virtual employment is still very new. Therefore, it’s likely that your potential candidates have never worked remotely before. If this is the case, it can be a whole new world of work for them, one that may not be conducive to their working styles; working alone requires focus, and an office can provide that. However, without one, you want to ensure that their abilities are still going to coincide with their duties.
  • Ask simple questions that will give you deeper insight: “What were their previous offices like – team-based or solo?” “Was teamwork an integral factor in getting your work done?”
Reflect On the Process
Finally, when all is said and done, it’s time to assess the strengths and abilities of your candidates. As a virtual position, however, your criteria for the right person will differ a bit from traditional requirements. Be sure to consider two important aspects:
  • Have they worked alone before? In an office, were they able to complete tasks on time in both a group and solo setting?
  • Are they knowledgeable about digital communications? This will be critical to making the working relationship successful.
Choosing the right virtual employee is a difficult task, as the position requires a variety of abilities than those needed from a traditional office worker. However, if you ask the right questions and have your criteria properly laid out, you can be sure to reap all the benefits. 

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Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics from social media to merchant services. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including background checks for lead generation resource Resource Nation.
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