Criteria for Hiring Remote Employees or Independent Contractors


More and more companies are hiring remote employees and independent contractors. This is a radical shift from the traditional employer-employee relationship. If you hire people who are working remotely, you may never even meet them in person. Or, you may only see them occasionally. Rather than communicating with them in person, you rely on phone calls, email, and possibly one of many cloud-based communication software programs.

If your business hires remote employees or independent contractors or you’re planning to switch to this model, how do you choose the best employees? The system of hiring and interviewing people for such positions isn’t always the same as the traditional hiring process. Let’s look at the best criteria for choosing such people.

Qualities to Look For in Remote Employees

For every position, you seek certain characteristics and qualifications in employees. This may include education, experience, and certain specific skills (e.g. programming, management, accounting, etc.) When you hire remote workers, however, you have to look for certain special qualities that don’t apply as much to traditional employees. Because such employees or independent contractors are working at a remote location, they are in a distinct category. Here are some of the qualities to look for.

  • Ability to work independently. Some employees work well when they’re under direct supervision but are less effective on their own. Remote employees don’t only need the essential skills to perform their job, they must be independent and self-motivated.
  • Solid communication skills. When you work in the same office as someone, communication is a given. You still want people who communicate well but you don’t have to worry about losing touch with them completely. With remote workers, you want to be sure that the employee will check in regularly as needed.
  • Experience as a remote worker. This isn’t always essential. If someone has the skills and qualities you need, you may decide to give them a chance. However, it’s even better if someone has a strong track record as a remote worker.
  • Access to the right technology. Presumably, if someone is applying to work for you remotely, he or she has the essential technology and connections. With remote workers, you have to consider their location as well. If someone lives in an area with poor internet service, for example, you may have trouble communicating.
  • Time management skills. This is another ability that’s important everywhere but especially for remote workers. Many people who perform well in an office find it distracting to work at home or at other remote locations. It’s important that your remote workers complete projects on time and are able to work in an organized manner.
  • Agile and adaptable attitude. Technology changes rapidly. That’s why it’s important to hire remote workers who are able and willing to make changes when necessary. For example, you may decide to switch your mode of communication to a new platform. You want workers who are able to keep up with any changes. People who are dogmatic about doing things a certain way are not ideal for this type of position.

Where to Find the Best Candidates

Once you know what to look for in a remote employee or independent contractor/freelancer, where do you find such candidates? As more people, both business owners and employees, adapt to the gig economy, it’s getting easier to connect with the right candidates.

  • Your current traditional employees. In some cases, full-time employees may want to transition into remote employees. There are many possible reasons for this, such as parents who need to care for young children at home, students who want to schedule both work and classes, and people who are relocating (for any reason). It’s important to remember, though, that not everyone is suited for this type of work arrangement.
  • LinkedIn – This business-oriented social media site is one of the best places to find employees of all kinds. Active LinkedIn members are usually tech and social media savvy, which is a plus for most remote employment jobs. LinkedIn also makes it easy to view candidates’ skills and experience.


  • Freelancer and Remote Job Sites – There is an increasing number of sites dedicated to bringing businesses and remote workers together. Some of these are extremely diverse while others are geared towards certain types of jobs. You can browse such sites and sign up for ones that have the kinds of listings that are right for you. One advantage of sites such as this is that you can read reviews for employees. A few sites to check out are FlexJobsUpWorthy, Working Nomads, and Stack Overflow (which specializes in developer and other tech jobs).

Tips for Hiring the Right People

As more companies hire remote workers and more people seek the freedom of working remotely, we can expect more platforms and services coming along to accommodate these needs. No matter where you find candidates, it’s important to use some kind of screening process. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Look at reviews and references. If it’s an important position, look for candidates who provide references whom you can contact.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews via Skype or another platform. With today’s technology, a remote interview can be just as thorough as one that’s conducted in-person. Video interviews are better than phone calls as it’s more like being in the room with someone. Factors such as body language and eye contact help you get a feeling for the person.
  • Include your employees or partners in the hiring process. Even if people are working remotely, it’s still important that they’re a good fit for your company culture. One way to do this is to interview candidates with your team members rather than just one-on-one.
  • Clarify your needs and expectations. When you’re communicating over distances, it’s especially important to know exactly what you want from your remote employees or freelancers. Whether you’re hiring someone as an employee or freelancer, make sure you have a contract that specifies all of the relevant details such as their responsibilities, compensation, and deadlines.
  • Hire someone on a trial basis. In today’s economy, there’s quite a bit of overlap between remote employees and freelancers. One way to find a suitable candidate is to hire someone for a single gig as a trial. If you really like them, you can always offer them a job. This way you don’t have to commit to hiring someone until you’ve sampled their work.

Newsletter Signup