You’ve worn all the hats. You’ve juggled all the balls. You’ve literally done it all. And your business has begun to flourish because of all your hard work and endless hours – but now, it’s time to hire your first employee.
Do you do what traditional thinking says and go find a building to fill with desks for people to sit at for a solid eight hours? Or do you stop the hamster wheel before it starts and think virtual? A workplace that exists no matter where people sit and still moves your business in the right direction.
So you research. You create a written company policy for future virtual employees. You determine what position you need to hire first. Got it? Good.
How do I hire my first employee?
Well, that question – though virtual employment isn’t necessarily a new concept or trend – still stumps even the most robust, seasoned HR departments so you’re not alone in not knowing quite what your next step should be.
So here are five tips to help you navigate the process of hiring your very first virtual employee in order to ensure that both you and your new employee succeed.
- Have The Right Job Description & Job Posting.
If hiring a virtual employee is your goal, be sure to include that detail in the job description. Seems obvious, but it’s an oft-overlooked detail that is pretty critical. Include detailed language about your expectations and opportunities related to the virtual nature of the position. Then, when drafting your job posting, be sure that it emphasizes the need for timely digital communication skills. Further, your job posting should also specify equipment requirements that your virtual employee will need to provide for themselves, like a laptop, high-speed internet access, a headset, virus protection – and more.
- Know What To Ask.
The right questions will yield the right answers so make sure you’re asking exactly what you need to know. Standard interview questions just won’t cut it here so create a list that includes specific questions about the environment in which the virtual candidates will work, their time- and task-management skills, and how they handle or avoid distractions. You’ll also want to determine both their verbal and written communication skills as both will prove critical to the success of the partnership.
Download our FREE resource: 9 Questions to Ask a Virtual Assistant
- Arrange Face-to-Face Interviews.
Don’t be quick to discount the profound importance of body language and nonverbal cues. According to Psychology Today, hardly anything transpires in our minds that is not reflected in our nonverbal communications. From emotions, to bodily needs, to dislikes, to illness, to status displays, to intentions, our bodies are exquisitely equipped to communicate so by carefully studying nonverbal behavior, we stand to gain invaluable insight. So if meeting a candidate in-person isn’t an option, elect to use video for an interview to not only allow you to observe body language and other visual cues, but to also give you a peek into the candidate’s workspace. And while this may be an unexpected consideration, your first employee will also need to fit into your company culture, so a little facetime and eye contact will go a long way.
- Assess Both Soft & Hard Skills.
Since a virtual employee will be lone-wolfing it, it’s important to know that they have all of the skills necessary to succeed before you onboard – that’s why soft- and hard-skill assessments are critical. In fact, The Muse suggests giving them a skills-related test – like giving a candidate for a communications-heavy job a writing test. Such front-end skills assessments – that prove independence, follow-through and problem-solving – can save you a lot of headaches on the backend by proving that your candidate has the skills and talent required to succeed.
PRO TIP: Be sure to look for evidence of these skills in every step of the hiring process – from initial application, to the interview, to reference checks.
- Make Onboarding Process Remote-Friendly.
Whenever possible, bring your virtual employee to your office or place of business for a week or two to get familiar with you and your company. Further, you should also verify that all of the technical equipment they’ll need is ready to go before their start date. But if in-office onboarding isn’t possible, make you clearly communicate your expectations, encourage and foster relationships to ensure virtual workers feel included, and always be available to offer help and answers questions. And remember to continually evaluate your onboarding process, including asking for feedback, in order to improve its efficacy.
Thanks to the internet and internet-enabled devices, hiring a virtual employee is the way of the future – and the future is now. Your very first virtual employee can execute on all of the functions of an in-house staff – and at a fraction of the cost (THINK: $2,000 saved per year by hiring a virtual employee on average).
With a clearly defined job description and posting, the right questions, some eye contact, skills assessments and thoughtful onboarding, you can begin to reap all that you’ve sown by your lonesome all while – BONUS! – creating a culture that will ensure that your first virtual employee will not be your last.
What are you waiting for?
Download 9 Reasons to Rethink Your Approach To Staffing and consider getting off the hamster wheel.