The world’s workforce is changing. Remote freelancers are taking the driver’s seat. Individuals are ditching the nine to five drag for more favorable working conditions in the comfort of their homes. While this holds several potential benefits for both businesses and freelancers, it also comes with a plethora of complications on your end.
Hiring the right remote freelancers is a challenging task for even the brightest of CEOs, but you don’t need a degree in psychology to properly vet potential applicants. There are three characteristics essential to these types of roles, as well as a number of ways to determine which applicants possess them.
How will these remote freelancers benefit your company? Can they meet deadlines while providing the quality of work you need? Can you take them at their word? By following the detailed tips below, you will be able to gain insight into a potential candidate’s work behavior.
1. Productive Remote Freelancers Demonstrate Accountability
Working from home requires diligence, self-motivation, and a high level of accountability. Remote freelancers need to care about the end result of their work as much as you do. However, you may have already found that not every remote freelancer out there holds themselves to a high standard.
If you’ve ever dealt with constantly late deadlines, work riddled with errors, and a sea of excuses, then you know what a headache finding quality remote freelancers can be. For the remote situation to work, you need to be able to rely on their every word. How is any manager supposed to know which applicants to trust, though?
Screening applications for accountable remote freelancers is near impossible, as anyone can spout out a list of skills and promises that ultimately mean nothing when they fall through. Face to face conversations via a system like Google Hangouts or Skype, however, can give you a little more insight. This allows you to determine whether remote freelancers are telling the truth and gather a little information on their personality.
You can take this one step farther by having a weekly or daily e-meeting with remote freelancers that you’ve decided to hire. This recreates the closer relationships you have with other freelancers, helping to ensure that goals are met while tweaking individual aspects of performance or resetting expectations.
Newer software also allows you to track when remote freelancers are working. Certain programs require freelancers to sign in when they are working, keeping track of when they are and are not at their desks. They also make useful tools for managing time sheets, which blend seamlessly with a time card calculator.
While you might not be able to tell ahead of time who is accountable and who isn’t, these timesheet/monitoring applications can help you to avoid complications before they turn into a nightmare. At the same time, remote freelancers respond with more positive work habits when they know they are being held accountable.
Accountable remote freelancers are going to be honest when a deadline cannot be met, be upfront about what work is within their skillset, and own up to mistakes made while working diligently to ensure they do not happen again.
Interview questions that you can use to determine accountability include:
What is your home office like? – This question shows how committed they are to their work. A designated space shows dedication, while no formal structure may indicate a more unreliable work nature.
How do you stay focused and meet deadlines? – The ideal answer is one in which the applicant discusses how they manage their work times. Those who set aside time to strictly focus on work each day are more accountable than those that juggle multiple tasks outside of work at the same time. You could also ask, “What kind of hours do you keep?”
Tell me about a time you were on a tight deadline and how you managed it. – Accountable remote freelancers will explain in detail how they pushed through to deliver their work by the deadline, never once making an excuse to get an extension.
2. Productive Remote Freelancers Have Technical Skills
There’s nothing worse than a freelancer who tells you they have the technical skills needed for the project when they clearly do not. It leaves you with either shoddy or incomplete work, tangling up the workflow of your operations and hindering the success of your business.
Chances are, you’ve run into either an accountable freelancer with a somewhat lacking skillset or a technical marvel who can never seem to meet a deadline. These two types are a dime a dozen, but there are remote freelancers who fall in between these two extremes. Ideally, you want to find someone who can get the work done on time and do it the right way.
Since projects that are given to remote freelancers are almost entirely done online, having adaptable freelancers who can mesh their workflow with your software (as well as use their own wit to adhere to guidelines) is key. Thankfully, there are dozens of tools available to you when seeking out remote freelancers with the skills you need.
Professional remote freelancers, whether they are new to the field or hardened veterans, should always have some kind of online profile that you can review. LinkedIn, for instance, is an excellent platform. You can then view examples of their work, and quickly identify any degrees or qualifying skills that are backed by previous experience.
Take the time to go through the remote freelancers’ profiles, using them as a vetting tool for technical skills. Look for skills relevant to your industry such as SEO optimization or working with the different software programs that the position would require. These skills may also be endorsed by others on the site whose profiles you can also view to further inform yourself of these remote freelancers’ abilities.
During the interview, ask remote freelancers what tools they use to manage and complete tasks. The types of answers you’re looking for are collaboration apps for communication amongst peers, time management or tracking software to keep them diligent, and video calling/conference technology that keeps them connected to clients. Knowledge of writing tools like Grammarly or Microsoft Office products is also a great indicator of the skill level they possess.
3. Productive Remote Freelancers Have Great Communication Skills
Resumes can be deceiving when it comes to someone’s communication skills, but an interview almost never fails. Start with email correspondence to see how timely their replies are, then prepare to see how well they articulate during the interview.
Communication is key to the remote freelancer role. Remote freelancers should be proactive about asking clarifying questions, letting you know what projects they are working on, and promptly replying to any questions or concerns you may have. This aspect of the task is more clearly defined by you, however.
If you would like remote freelancers to be available for video chats between 8pm and 5pm, say so. If you would like a daily update on work completed or how close a project is to completion, put it into the task description. Setting clear expectations ahead of time helps to ensure more lucid communication from remote freelancers.
Set further expectations for time off if you want to avoid another headache altogether. Every freelancer you hire should inform you ahead of time when they will be away from their desk for more than a day. Your business depends on them, and there’s nothing quite as nerve-racking as remote freelancers disappearing on you for three days at a time.
Keep up communication, too, but not just in the form of assignments and work-talk. You can get to know remote freelancers better by engaging with them in conversation about industry news. This is an excellent way to keep things professional while learning about their character, passion for the work, and their ability to adapt to changing techniques or adhere to emerging guidelines.
Interview questions you can use to determine remote freelancers’ willingness for open communication include:
How do you manage conflicts or issues? – Conflicts are bound to arise in any work situation, but how remote freelancers handle them is key. Does this applicant know when to ask for help? Are they able to tackle problems independently? Can they foresee issues ahead of time? Can they stay cool under pressure while keeping you in the loop?
Are you comfortable using time tracking software? – Any worthwhile applicant is going to give the green light for software that tracks their time and progress. Why? It helps to keep operations flowing as smoothly as possible. They want you to know that they’re working hard, and understand how important it is for you to know that projects are being seen to completion. It’s a simple, essential part of remote work opportunities.
Picking the Right Remote Freelancers
Finding quality remote freelancers who can do their tasks independently can seem like a real challenge at first. Equipping yourself with the right knowledge and questions is a sure fire way to creating happy work relationships. Remember to ask the right questions and use the tools available to you in order to avoid a nightmarish situation. Follow the tips above and you’ll attract dedicated remote freelancers who are accountable and have the technical and communicative skills necessary to be productive at work.
This post was contributed by Wendy Dessler of OutreachMama.