Ben Schwencke is a business psychologist at a leading candidate assessment testing company and regularly advises on how to select remote workers. Here he shares with us 3 of the main pieces of advice he has learnt for hiring remote workers:
Don’t be scared to hire introverts!
Low conscientiousness and introversion are normally less favourable traits for potential employees, but this isn’t the case for remote workers.
In-person office work has traditionally benefited extraverts; people who thrive on social interaction and interpersonal communication. Introverts (people with low extraversion) can struggle with in-person office work, preferring their own company and needing frequent breaks to recharge their social batteries. (PersonalityData)
In-person office work also rewards conscientious individuals who enjoy the structure and routine associated with office life. Those who score low on conscientiousness find office work restrictive, preferring to work on their own terms.
Remote work flips this traditional dynamic on its head. In remote work, it’s the extraverts who struggle, being less-able to fulfil their social needs at work. On the other hand, introverts thrive when working remotely, allowing them to focus on work without unwanted social disturbances.
Highly conscientious people can also struggle in remote work, finding it inherently chaotic and unstructured. Less conscientious individuals, however, love the flexibility associated with remote work, finding it both liberating and empowering.
So, when assessing candidates with personality questionnaires, you should avoid hiring remote workers that score excessively high on either extraversion or conscientiousness. Failure to account for this results in poor employee engagement, reduced job satisfaction, and an increased risk of employee attrition.
You may be excused for thinking that culture fit is less important for your remote workers as they are not working in the confines of the office and are not engaging face-to-face with other employees daily, however it is still as important.
Culture-fit directly affects the success of remote work arrangements. A remote worker who aligns with a company's culture is more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. Additionally, a strong culture fit helps to foster a sense of community and belonging among remote workers, which can be especially important for individuals who may feel isolated working from home.
You can assess culture fit in-person and remotely, with the latter probably being more relevant in these cases.
Make use of any of these assessments to test whether a candidate will be a good fit for the culture of your company:
- Behavioural Interviews: Ask questions that focus on past behaviours and how the candidate has dealt with specific situations in the workplace. This can give insight into their values, work ethic, and how they might fit in with your company culture.
- Cultural Fit Assessments: Use cultural fit assessments or personality tests, such as the DISC profile, to understand the candidate's personality and how they might fit with your company's values and work style.
- Simply Ask Them: Ask the candidate directly about their thoughts on company culture and how they think they would fit in. This can give insight into their values and how they see themselves in the context of your company.
Trustworthiness is key
A lack of trust can lead to misunderstandings, decreased productivity, and a breakdown in communication and collaboration.
Here are 5 specific reasons why trustworthiness is key in remote work:
- Reduced supervision: Remote workers require a high level of independence and the ability to manage their own time and workload effectively. Trusting the remote worker to perform their job responsibilities without direct supervision is essential.
- Improved communication: Trusting remote workers to communicate effectively and provide regular updates can help to build strong relationships and foster collaboration.
- Flexibility: Remote work arrangements often require a certain degree of flexibility, with remote workers working outside of traditional office hours. Trusting the remote worker to manage their workload and complete their tasks on time is important.
- Data security: Remote workers often have access to sensitive company information and data. Trusting remote workers to handle this information securely and confidentially is crucial.
- Reliability: Trusting remote workers to be reliable and dependable is important in ensuring that projects are completed on time and to a high standard
So, when assessing candidates, it’s important to think about trust - Hire individuals with a proven track record of reliability and trustworthiness, reference checks can be a key tool for this.
As you can see, hiring remote workers benefits from a slightly different approach to traditional hiring. There is still a strong importance on using cognitive ability tests to assess the candidate’s abilities, but how you can leverage personality questionnaires differs slightly, with less extraverted and conscientious candidates becoming the more desirable options.