Finding a remote worker online is fairly easy these days. Finding a great remote contractor online can be a whole different challenge. The interview process becomes extremely important in pinpointing that remote worker who is a perfect fit for you and your business. So, as you screen freelancers for your next project, be especially sensitive to the following warning signs that you're looking at the wrong person for the job.
Red Flag #1: Poor communication skills. Mastery of a certain language may or may not be relevant to the work you need performed, however, being able to communicate clearly with your remote worker is vital. Pay attention to the emails you exchange with each candidate. Are the candidates understanding your questions? Are you understanding theirs? Watch for signs of sloppiness, such as texting lingo or spelling errors. Whenever possible, speak to your top applicant by phone or Skype before making your final decision. Communication is crucial for successful remote work, so make sure that you and your candidate have laid the groundwork for a good relationship early on.
Red Flag #2: Work experience that can't be verified or a lack of credible references. Just because you are not hiring an in-house, full-time employee for your company, doesn't mean you shouldn't do your homework. Be smart. Ask for references (and check them!). Look closely to see if the candidate's resume reflects the skills you are looking for. If the applicant's previous work can be examined online, be sure to take some time to review it. Taking the candidate's word for what she can do is a risk most of us can't afford to take.
Red Flag #3: Delayed responses to calls and emails. People are usually on their best behavior when trying to land a job, so what you observe in the interview phase of the relationship with your freelancer is probably as good as it gets. If a candidate seems difficult to reach, it's probably because she is. Don't ignore that nagging voice in your head telling you this may be a taste of what's to come, because the voice is probably right.
Red Flag #4: Lack of respect for the contracts already in place. Pay close attention to how your candidate speaks or writes of current (and past) employers. If your applicant is ready to bail abruptly on a previous contract commitment in order to work with you, consider yourself playing with fire. Look for candidates who are tactful when discussing previous employers and who display loyalty, integrity and a overall desire to do the right thing.
Red Flag #5: Disinterest in your company or organization. A candidate who doesn't ask questions or seek dialogue with you about your business and goals may not be interested in either one -- and that's a bad sign. A good freelancer understands the importance of understanding you, your business and your expectations of their work. Remember, it's not just about what the applicant can do, it's about what the applicant can do for you.
The interview process is vital when hiring remote workers, and skipping it can lead to disaster. In the comments below, tell us about your experiences - the red flags, the fireworks and the successes - from your experiences interviewing remote contractors.