Remote work has opened up a new pool of candidates that enables businesses to find top talents around the globe. But hiring remotely comes with its challenges causing team leaders to rethink company culture and assessment techniques. It may be relatively easy to assess someone’s technical abilities in a remote interview. But analyzing if a person fits in a company’s culture is a whole other story.

Workplace culture is affected by the experiences each employee brings. To ensure that new remote workers are set for success, you have to choose people that would fit in with their values and beliefs, as well as be ready to accept the procedures in place. A team of such people is more likely to cooperate well, have a higher performance level, be satisfied with the job and drive the company towards success.


Why hiring culture fit employees is important?

According to TriveMap’s survey conducted in 2018, about 96% of HR leaders think that hiring for cultural fit can be crucial for the organization on multiple levels.

Here are several reasons why you should consider culture fit while hiring remote workers:

  • When you hire employees that are in line with the company’s values, they are more likely to stay for the long term. Hiring culture fit people leads to a higher job retention rate that can positively affect the entire team. If your remote workers stay with the team for a long time, the company will be able to build a stronger culture and reputation, attracting better professionals over time. In the long run, it would lead to forming a strong, capable and experienced remote team that would live up to its potential.
  • Culture fit helps employees identify with the company and have a sense of belonging. As a result, workers not only are more motivated and productive but have higher job satisfaction. Those who do not fit in the culture would struggle with maintaining productivity and performance.
  • If your remote workers have the same core values, they are more likely to form better relationships with each other. Team bonding and collaboration can lead to improved performance rates and contribute to the company’s overall success.


How to assess culture fit when hiring remotely?

Assessing whether a person is a good fit for your company might be difficult even in face-to-face interviews. But when it comes to hiring remote workers, a whole new list of challenges might come up. For example, it might be more difficult to analyze someone’s personality or read body language during a zoom call. Therefore, just focusing on the regular interview might not be enough to hire remote workers that would stay with the company for good.

Here are ways to assess if an employee is a culture fit for your company.


Clearly define your company’s culture

Before you start talking with candidates, have a clear understanding of where your organization stands and how to you plan to cultivate company culture. Define its core values, communication style, working guidelines, level of interaction between the team members, list of unacceptable behavior and so on.

Try to be as specific as possible, because it would later help you form the questions that would reveal the candidate’s personality. For example, instead of saying that you have a collaborative culture, explain that among other things it also includes using online tools for working on the projects. Do you expect your remote team members to be rapid responders via various channels or do you prefer they unplugged for deep work? Is there a certain way the team members should present on Zoom calls? Or what’s the approach to time off for mental health? Think about these specific questions that would help you form the company’s culture. Afterward, you can think about the exact traits you are looking for in your future remote workers. For example, when it comes to using collaborative tools, it might be a good idea to hire a team player who is also eager to learn new skills.

Make sure that all your current remote workers understand the company’s culture, as they will be the ones working with the candidates. Ask them to give reviews about the work environment, analyze the results and think about some changes. You might have one idea about the company’s culture, but your team members’ perspectives might be different.

You can also use different social media platforms to talk about your company’s culture and attract more talents to work with you.


Prioritize your job description

Writing a job description for an office-based position is standard practice. But writing an attractive description for a remote position is different and you need to be crystal clear about your expectations. Make sure you provide details about the remote working policy. For example, is the company fully remote or does it have a hybrid model? Is there a certain time zone that you applicants need to adjust to? What are some of the core requirements?

We recommend also playing up some of the aspects of your remote position that might help it stand out from the rest of the list. For example, you may offer subscription plans to certain remote working tools, or prioritize mental health by providing special day-offs. It will give the applicants an idea of the working environment that they are about to enter.

And don’t be afraid to promote your job listing on all the right places and websites.


Ask relevant questions

The interview is not the only way to assess if a candidate fits in with the company, but it’s still one of the most effective tools that can help you find the right person. It’s important to remember that you won’t be able to fully get to know someone during a half-an-hour interview. But asking the right questions might help you understand how candidates would fit into your team, what challenges they might have and even see some of the red flags.

We recommend starting the interview with some regular work-related questions assessing their skills, experience and career trajectory. But these questions are unlikely to reveal if a person is a good fit. For that, you have to go beyond the standard interview. It might feel awkward at first, but once you get used to eating, it will become the new normal for your remote hiring process.

There are a couple of interesting questions that you could come up with, but here is a suggestion from us: “Name one trait that you do not like about yourself, but want to improve”. Keep in mind that this could go several ways. There will be candidates who would name traits that are not as important, for example being too emotional, or overworking from time to time. There will be those who would not name a characteristic or would say that they cannot remember. And then there will be the candidates who would honestly talk about traits that are important for day-to-day work in a company such as responsibility or communication skills. Those who answer honestly are the ones you should consider to become part of your team.


Behavioural interviewing

Asking work-related and character-based questions won’t be enough. You would want to not only get an insight into how would they perform on a day-to-day basis, but know how would they act during the crisis as well. One way to do so is to give them possible scenarios and ask how would they act. For example, draw a situation where an employee says lies about the company in different social circles and tries to destroy its reputation for good. Ask the candidate how would they act if they accidentally found out about it? The candidates’ answers will not only reveal something about their preferences, personalities and values but give you a hint of how they tend to act in difficult situations. This can be one of the deciding factors in your hiring process.

Another scenario can be about remote working and its challenges. For example, you could ask them to imagine that they have a lot of distractions at home and are not working productively. But they cannot currently afford to work in a café or a co-working space. What are some of the solutions that they would try? Remote work-based scenarios are especially important because you are hiring people that would work independently without constant supervision from their team leader. Therefore, they must know where they struggle the most and be able to find solutions on their own.


Use video interviews

The video interview is the best tool that creates an environment as similar to face-to-face interviews as it can get. The key here is to keep it casual, yet professional by creating an atmosphere where candidates can openly talk not about their successes, but failures as well.

You can tell a lot about a person based on their way of speaking, posture, manners and more. First impressions can always change, but at least you’d have an idea of what kind of a personality a person has. It would also help you understand if they would fit in with the team or struggle to form relationships.

When hiring remotely you need to put in some extra effort to assess behaviors and manners and doing a phone call is not the way to go. During a video interview, you can see how people react to the question or how their faces change to your comment. It might give you important insight into someone’s character.


Talk openly about the culture

According to ThriveMap, “31% of people have left a company because the culture didn’t mirror how it was communicated to them in the hiring process.” You are unlikely to find the right people if you don’t openly discuss the company’s culture from the beginning. And if you fail to do so, you might end up with remote workers that do not fit in and would likely leave positions in a couple of months. It can not only disrupt the company’s work but negatively affect its financial situation.

With face-to-face interviews, the candidates would walk into your office, meet your co-workers and get a sense of the working environment. Without this interaction, you need to be very intentional in explaining all the details about the company’s culture.  Help them understand your values and ask if they identify with any of them. Make sure that nothing is unclear for every candidate to avoid any misunderstandings later.


A paid test project

Once you have narrowed down your applicants to a limited number of qualified candidates, it might be a good idea to test their skills and expertise in a real working environment that is specific to your company. It’s especially important for remote roles because they have to face all the challenges that come with asynchronous communication. For example, workers do not have the luxury to lean over and ask a coworker or walk into your office.

We recommend putting together a sample test, similar to the work they would be doing later on. Provide clear deadlines and instructions for the job. Consider having a mentor for the candidate. In other words, this would be a person answering all the questions related to working procedures, tools used, etc. Assess how the candidate would fit into the role, respect the deadline and overcome challenges.

It might also be a good idea to create a group work sample and see how the candidate would communicate with other team members. On the other hand, the candidates would assess if they have a sense of belonging to the company. Therefore, try to practice the company’s culture as much as possible during the trial.


The Verdict

Hiring remote employees can be a lengthy process and you would not want to waste time and energy on hiring the wrong people and then having to find someone all over again. Using these tricks and techniques will help you with finding the person that fits in the company’s culture and is set for success in the long run.