Jim Benson

The badass Jim Benson, who can also be happy.

One of the benefits of remote working is being able to hire the best. But how do we find them? And how will we know if they’ll be good a good fit? Hiring someone to work on a  remote team is slightly different than hiring someone who will work in an office with you. There is an additional set of skills to scan for.

Where to start

In both remote and co-located hiring, it’s good to define the kinds of people you want on your team. It’s useful to list the characteristics you’re looking for, and then use that as a checklist during the interview process.

Here are a few of the characteristics I look for in my remote teammates (with my favorites bolded).

Great internet connection Reliable Responsive
Pro-active / self-starters Self motivated Self disciplined
Honest On time Self-learners


Jeremy Stanton


Where to look for virtual superstar colleagues

Now that you know who you’re looking for, how do you find them? Hands down, word of mouth is the best way to go! Look for people in your networks… people you already know and trust. If you don’t have anyone in your networks, try sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru.

What to look for

Because we lose important sensory information when we’re remote, it’s wise to interview each candidate using a combination of technologies (video calls, instant messaging,  email, phone, etc). This will help you understand their level of technical prowess and preferred style of communication.

Carrie McKeegan

Don’t just have one conversation. I like to host a series of short interviews with each candidate. Each conversation will have different team members depending on who is available at the time of the interview.  I find that each conversation gives me helpful information. If the interviewee is ok with it, I like to record the conversations so other team members who couldn’t attend can still listen in. Note: never upload those conversations to public channels!

Questions to ask virtual candidates

Here some specific questions I like to ask while interviewing virtual candidates.

  1. What kind of remote working experience do you have?
  2. What do you like about working remotely?
  3. What does your virtual office look like? What do you need to get your work done?
  4. What does a typical day look like for you?
  5. What are some of your favorite online tools?
  6. What annoys people most about your work? and… What annoys you most about other people’s work? (these questions are not specifically remote related, but they are two of my favorite questions, so I included them :).

Specific skills to look for in virtual teammates

It’s not a complete no-no to hire people without any remote working experience, but it will take extra time and patience during the onboarding process. In general, look for people who:

  • are pro-active communicators… people that will reach out when they need something.
  • are comfortable with online apps, video conferencing, and instant messaging.
  • are literate with talking in time zones

Hiring tips for virtual superstars

  • Create a small hurdle. In the job description, list something small the candidate should do or include with their response (i.e., a small task, or a question they should answer). The results are always enlightening.
  • Google your candidate and look at their social media profiles. Get a sense for who they are.
  • Don’t settle on people because they are convenient. Focus on hiring only the best. Instead of hiring three ok people, it’s better to hire one outstanding person.
  • Someone who is a better fit personally is better than someone who fits the skill set. Ask yourself “Would I want to spend 3 hours on a bus together with this person?”
  • When you get to a certain size, hire someone that can focus on hiring and culture.

David Horowitz

It’s challenging to find the right team mates, especially on virtual teams. Think through what you want and take the time to talk to people. And please share your tips and stories in the comments!

More resources

Here are some additional resources to learn more about hiring a virtual superstar.

Recruitment on virtual teams