Let’s flash back to this time last year. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t in a good place. I was working 12 hours a day trying to get my business off the ground. I had zero time for a social life and my health was declining pretty fast…
This problem was multiplied when Clarity started to gain more clients, and I found myself trapped in my own business, struggling to keep it together.
Fast-forward to today, and we have a dedicated Project Manager who handles everything from customer experience to production. This ONE hire has freed 4 hours a day, allowing me to focus on marketing and growth.
Now if this sounds familiar, I suggest reading on to learn my hiring process for remote staff as a way to free up your time, and take control of your business.
I write my exact steps and provide templates below, but first, let’s look into the advantages and risks of hiring online.
- More staff handling the work IN the business allows you to work ON the business, which is where your time should be spent
- You gain access to a wide talent pool
- You can take advantage of time zone differences for those that run an international company
- It’s hard to really know what the candidate is like in a work environment
- There’s less accountability for their time and work output
- You have less control of the employee
- You can potentially get burned e.g. non-responsive staff member goes AWOL
With anything in business, there will always be risks involved. However, hiring online doesn’t have to be scary or risky. In fact – you can guarantee successful hires IF you do the necessary screening beforehand.
Let’s get into the steps!
NOTE: I hired a project manager, but this process works for any role. I followed these steps when hiring my Marketing Assistant too. In another post I’ll elaborate on how I train and systemise a business too.
1. Create a VERY detailed job posting
You need to know EXACTLY what you require of your new staff member, arguably more than you would for a physical employee. The communication structure shifts to virtual, and thus there’s more chance for miscommunication. Spend a few hours outlining the role, down to the finer details. Then make sure to sell you, and your company well online.
You’ll be listing this role on sites like UpWork, and need to attract the high talent that you NEED to get the job done.
Must-haves for your listing:
- Descriptive listing title that covers $$, hours required, job description
- Listing content
- Role description
- Company description
- Working hours
- Take into consideration time zones, and requirements that align with your company/clients
- Payment terms
- Detailed list of tasks
- Your values in an employee
- Details about you/the manager so the applicant can get to know who they’ll be working with
- Training/onboarding process
- Screening questions (pick 5 based off your needs or create your own)
- Do you already have another job? If so, where are you working and how many hours are you working?
- What relevant past experience do you have?
- Do you have your own computer and Internet access from home? If you have access, how fast is your connection?
- Will you work from home or from an Internet cafe?
- Do you have any questions about the job description?
- Have you worked with foreign employers before?
- What past project or job have you had that is most like this one and why?
You want applicants to explicitly admire the job listing, and apply because they know you mean business.
Goal: Attract the best talent available
2. Shortlist the massive influx of candidates – be harsh when screening
If you wrote a detailed application, you’ll likely get over 50 applicants. To save your time, screen each applicant harshly.
To do this, review each applicant one-by-one. If the answers to your questions are generic, reject them. If their answers are one or two words and typically look lazy, reject them.
On the other hand, if the applicant showed genuine interest and meets your ideal criteria, shortlist them.
Repeat this for all applicants to weed out the obvious rejections.
Next, you’ll want to skim through your shortlist again to see if anyone else could be removed. I do this by finding my best applicant, and then comparing some people I wasn’t so sold on to see if their application still holds merit.
Sometimes applicants don’t shine at this stage, so if you’re on the fence for 1 or 2, maybe it’s best to review their questionnaire answers before cutting them.
To shortlist your applicants, adapt the following email as needed (the questionnaire is explained below):
Firstly, yes this is a templated response. It’s not my style, but I’m overwhelmed by the positive response so this is the only efficient way to respond.
Good news, I like what you offer and have shortlisted you.
There were over [number of applicants] applicants and I’ve shortlisted [number shortlisted] (including you – congrats)!
If you’re still interested in this role, can you please fill out this questionnaire linked here:
[Questionnaire link goes here]
Once I’ve reviewed your responses, I’ll be interviewing 5 of you. Then I’ll likely run a trial/test with 3 applicants to make my final decision.
This may be intense or too thorough for some of you, so if you’re not interested in this screening process please respond with a ‘No’.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to reviewing your response.
[Your name goes here]’
Goal: Shortlist to a maximum of 15 applicants
3. The questionnaire – an interest hoop
Now we really test the applicant’s interest in your role. Create a questionnaire using Google Forms or another free software to further screen your shortlist. To speed up your hiring process, simply adapt my questionnaire to suit your role.
Remember we’re trying to weed out the lazy applicants to find the true gems.
The questionnaire should take 15-20 minutes and will give you further material to axe some applicants.
Ask yourself the following questions when reading the responses:
- Is their written English adequate for the role?
- Have they put in effort to answer questions?
- Do the answers intrigue/interest you?
- Do the responses reflect your company values?
- Does their personality match your ideal candidate?
- Do you relate to their answers?
Go through each response, and separate the answers into ‘interviewees’ and ‘rejections’. I create separate sheets in a Google Sheet and sort them that way.
If you view my questionnaire, you’ll notice I ask if they have any questions about the role. I received a number of questions so addressed them in a PDF, using the following template:
If you’re reading this then your questionnaire answers were great.
I’ve shortlisted applicants down to the final 10, however before we continue I’d like to address the responses to the question ‘Do you have any questions about the expectations/requirements?’
I’ve created a PDF which can be found here:
[PDF link goes here]
Please read this document and simply reply ‘yes’ to the email if you’re still interested. If I haven’t heard back from you within 48 hours I’ll assume that you’re not interested.
Once I know who is still interested, I will choose the interviewees.
I hope these answers clarify any concerns you have about the role and I thank you for your patience during this process.
[Your name goes here]’
Then, once I’ve received my ‘Yes’ responses, I decide on my interviewees. I also order the candidates from best to worst, so I know exactly where each applicant stands in the process.
Goal: Shortlist to a maximum of 5 applicants
4. Interview time
Congrats, you’ve screened the applicants further and found your top 5. I’d recommend notifying the applicants via email or UpWork that they’re through to the next stage, and then send out a generic message to all rejected applicants to notify them of your decision (you don’t have to do this but I think it’s only fair if they take the time to fill out a questionnaire).
Here’s my template to successful interviewees:
After reviewing the remaining applicants I’ve chosen my interviewees and you’re one of them 🙂
Apologies for the long hiring process so far, it hasn’t been easy with the number of qualified applicants – I’m seriously impressed with the standard so far.
I’ll be conducting my interviews this Monday/Tuesday [substitute for your preferred days], you can schedule a call here via Calendly [link Calendly].
I look forward to talking to you and learning more about how we can work together.
Here’s my template to rejected applicants:
Firstly, thank you for filling out the questionnaire, I really appreciate it.
However, I’ve decided to proceed with someone else for the role.
I will keep your contact details on file in case it doesn’t work out.
I wish you the best of luck in your hunt for another role.
I get the interviewees to schedule their interviews via Calendly to avoid the back and forth time-suck that is email. I tweak the Calendly link to complete all interviews across 2 days, in suitable times for me. This keeps the hiring process moving forward efficiently.
Now you should have 5 scheduled interviews.
Prepare your interview questions prior to the call, and then enjoy the interviews.
When interviewing, look for the following things:
- What’s their spoken English like – is it suitable for the role?
- Are they concise?
- Do they actually answer the question?
- Do they ramble on or go off-topic?
- Can I see myself working with this person?
- Do we connect on a conversational level i.e. could you hold a conversation with this person in a social setting?
Note: I’m no expert on interviewing by any means, the above is from personal experience. There will be better resources on the internet for this specific part.
I like to take notes during the interview, and add these to the Google Sheet, next to the shortlist answers.
This makes it easier to review the applicants when hiring.
Goal: Shortlist again to 3 final applicants
Not every role requires this, and I personally didn’t do this when I was hiring because I was already sold on the applicant after the interview.
However, if you’d like to go one step further, create a small 1-2 hour test for the applicant (paid, of course).
This could include creating a scenario that mimics a typical project/stage, and then getting the applicant to complete it.
Ideally you’d provide guided steps, and it’s a matter of reviewing their competence, attention to detail and speed.
Go a step further and create some sort of ‘issue’ in the scenario too, to test their initiative and quick thinking (vital for a Project Manager as unexpected issues do occur).
Once finished, review their work and go over the scenario with them to understand their thinking.
Goal: Find the successful applicant
By this stage it should be very clear who your golden star is. Review the applicants again via your Google Sheet, and then contact the successful applicant for a quick 5 minute chat on Skype.
These calls are usually relaxed, and are designed to discuss the next steps e.g. starting date, training schedule.
The unsuccessful applicants should receive an email or UpWork message to notify them of the outcome, here’s my template:
Firstly thank you for your patience during this hiring process, I understand it’s taken a while but it’s been very difficult to choose from such a qualified pool of applicants.
However, after reviewing all applicants in detail I’ve decided to proceed with another applicant.
I will keep your contact details on file in case it doesn’t work out and I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit for another PM role.
Goal: Hire the applicant and celebrate
So who did we hire?
You may be wondering who I chose after this lengthy process.
Let me introduce you to our project manager Francheska, from the Dominican Republic.
I hired Francheska because we clicked from the start of the interview. She had previous experience as a remote Project Manager, understood the role well, and showed exactly how her skillset will benefit Clarity Animations.
She’s creative, loves music and reading, and when she’s not working she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
I was looking for someone who’s more organised than me and has attention to detail which Francheska shines in. Her intense amount of lists makes her the perfect weapon to ensure projects run smoothly, and on time.
Francheska is now handling all projects, and gauging from client feedback, she’s doing a great job.
The craziest part is, we’ve never met! Hiring overseas over the internet has a bad reputation but it can be effective. Hopefully the above guide will put you on the right path to making the perfect hire, every time.
P.S. I wrote this blog post because online work and changing workforces are something I have a personal interest in. This blog may not help the company sell more videos, but if you found it useful please let me know via email or a comment below.