Category Archives: Hiring

Screening Applicants the Modern Way

Screening Applicants the Modern Way

There are few joys greater than offering an amazing job to the right candidate.

Unfortunately, getting to that point can be incredibly time consuming. Managers and recruiters can spend hours sorting through cookie-cutter resumes and interviewing so-so applicants before finally finding someone who appears to be the perfect match.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to technology, there are lots of new methods to help hiring professionals pre-screen applicants so they can save time and energy for the strongest candidates.

Here are a few ideas to help modernize your hiring process.

1. Text Messaging

Struggling to get applicants to pick up the phone? Texting could be the solution.

More employers are trying out texting apps to screen candidates in early-stage interviews, according to The Wall Street Journal. Restaurant booking service OpenTable and staffing firm Aegis are both using a messaging app called Canvas for text-based job interviews.

This strategy could especially help hiring managers targeting younger applicants. Only 12% of Millennials prefer to use phones for business communications and 45% are more inclined to text, chat online, or use email, according to research.

Companies looking to stand out while attracting younger candidates might consider meeting them on their terms. Plus, texting can speed up the pre-screen process—why spend 20 minutes on a phone call when you can send a quick text whenever it fits into your day? It’s a win-win for both sides.

2. Social Media

Screening someone through their social accounts isn’t new. In fact, 70% of employers admitted to using social media to learn more about applicants before hiring them, according to a CareerBuilder study.

By now, any candidate with self awareness will have strong privacy settings and hold off on posting inappropriate pictures for all to see. That means recruiters need to change up how they analyze the information that’s available to them on someone’s social profile.

For example, hiring managers can read beyond pure content and think about a candidate’s tone. Are their posts overwhelmingly negative or angry? Do they respond to other people or just shout into the abyss? Either case could make or break a candidate.

Keep in mind that social media isn’t just a tool to cut applicants from the shortlist; it can also support a candidate’s job qualifications. Looking into who people follow on social media can tell you a lot about a candidate’s ambitions and interests. If they follow organizations or personalities with similar values to your company’s, that could be an indicator of a good cultural fit.

3. Video Applications

Not to be mistaken for a video interview, this is usually a short video submitted alongside a traditional application where a candidate may answer questions posed by the employer. It’s still a relatively new screening method, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, especially for companies hiring creative or client-facing roles.

The benefits of this approach are numerous. For one, a video allows recruiters to get a better sense of someone’s personality compared to the traditional resume-and-cover-letter combo. It’s also a great way to filter out the less enthusiastic or tech savvy applicants.

Anybody can upload a few documents and hit submit, but taking the time to film a video shows dedication and passion. While this screening tactic may result in less applications overall, the ones that are submitted are usually of much higher quality, which saves time and resources in the long run.

4. Talent Communities

While this is more of a long-term strategy, creating a professional talent community for your company can be a helpful way to recruit quality applicants and build your employer brand at the same time.

But what is a talent community exactly? They can take many forms—a Facebook group for former volunteers, a Slack community or LinkedIn forum for professionals in your industry—but they all aim to build connections with external audiences.

Companies that take the time to build talent communities have a ready group of familiar faces that can be approached the next time they need to fill a role. However, in order for it to be successful, it’s important to create a space that is mutually beneficial for your community as well as your company. It should be a thriving place for industry discussions and networking, not the social media version of a job board.

The Right Tools Save You Time

At the end of the day, all the technology in the world can’t replace the keen eye of hiring manager or experienced recruiter. But tools like texting apps, social media, video applications, and talent communities can speed up the hiring process by turning a mountain of resumes into a much more manageable molehill.


Let Authentic Jobs bring you your next great hire.

Planning Effective Interviews

Planning Effective Interviews

Hiring new employees is a big decision. There are anxious moments when you realize you’re responsible for another person’s financial well-being, and that any hiring decisions affect your well-being and that of your company.

There are benefits too, and they’re huge. When a person signs on, they’re saying “no” to other opportunities and saying “yes” to helping to make your dream a reality. That’s a big show of faith.

Additionally, when you’ve got another person, another mind, dedicated to your vision, things start to move forward quickly. Very quickly.

This article is the first in a two-part series about hiring. First, I’ll share how-to’s and tips for conducting a traditional, in-person interview. Then, we’ll dive into hiring a remote worker. Both articles will guide you through anxious moments and suggest exactly how to begin the rewarding process of hiring the perfect fit.

Start Preparing Way Before An Interview

First and foremost, make the commitment to invest the time that recruitment, interviewing, and hiring demands. When you’re a one or two-person shop, it can seem like any time spent away from the product or service you’re nurturing is poorly spent. However, rushing into the process leads to bad hires, which is terribly expensive.

To really invest the time wisely, follow the three steps outlined below.

1. Set aside an hour at the start and end of the day

Make an appointment with yourself as you would with any important contact or associate. Maintain this appointment until you’ve completely wrapped your head around your hiring process.

2. Define your company’s core values

Your company’s core values tell prospective employees a lot about the job. Consider Apple. Words that come to mind are probably innovation, cool, “think different” and passion for design.

In a speech to Apple employees, Steve Jobs once said, “What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their job done… Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core… It’s core values… is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”

With your values clearly defined, it’s easier to convey them to a candidate.

3. Design an on-boarding process

There’s a tendency to ride the momentum and excitement of bringing someone new on board by handing them a bunch of work with a hearty, “Go!” However, properly bringing a new person on board builds a foundation for a great relationship.

Since many employees often work long hours—and considering they probably weren’t there for the inception and early days of the business—they really need to feel like a part of the team. Here are a few effective strategies:

    1. Have them meet the team via email prior to their start date. Or do so in person. This can be informal and even include fun ice-breakers. I once worked at a startup that held a weekly “board game night,” and as a new hire, I found it a welcoming, low-pressure way to meet everyone.
    2. Create a brief orientation day, including sessions on company policies, but also topics like company culture, company history, intent and strategies.
    3. Prepare a proper workstation with a laptop and other required tools. A mug or T-shirt with a logo is another way to say, “Welcome, you’re part of the team.”

There’s the typical HR stuff to complete, of course, but going a step or two beyond is worth the effort.

Designing The Perfect Interview Process

With those preliminary steps taken care of, it’s time to begin recruiting and interviewing. Thinking about this stage well before you start looking at applications gives candidates an equal chance and helps you weigh priorities before wasting people’s time.

Screening applications

When the applications start to come in, look for the following:

  1. People with startup/small business experience. True, a small business is not a startup, but someone who has worked at one is comfortable in small teams and having a lot of responsibility.
  2. Look for side projects, even if they aren’t related to what your product or service is. People who take projects on or create them for themselves are generally eager to try new things, dedicated, and not afraid to work hard.
  3. If you’re hiring for a web startup, hire people who understand the internet inside and out. Developers, coders, and designers should have a vibrant social media presence or portfolio. Twitter can give you a good idea of a person, even if it means scrolling through 100 tweets.

Once you’ve identified the best candidates, it’s time to begin the interview process.

Give candidates an initial test

First, have applicants demonstrate their skills or abilities. Many applicants know how to answer common interview questions or drop buzzwords.

Cut through all of that and have them complete a task similar to what they’d face at work. For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson or marketing pro, have them sell you something. In an interview for a sales position, my manager ended the interview by handing me a cup of tea with the instructions, “Sell me on this cup of tea. You have five minutes.”

Additionally, pay attention to who completes the task and who goes the extra mile with it. The former is good, but the latter should move directly to your short list.

Conduct the initial interview

At last, you’ve identified some candidates and you’re ready to begin the in-person interviews. Once they’ve arrived, there are some topics to address right away.

First, look for people who are real and clear. This can be a bit hard to define, but be wary of people who use cliche phrases and terms. Instead, go for the person who speaks their mind. You need people who are smart and driven, of course, but also not afraid to disagree with you.

Share your vision for the company and the likely long hours they’ll be putting in. This who don’t balk make the cut and should move on to the next steps.

Have them interview with everyone

You’ve got a small company, so let the short-list interviewees sit with everyone on the team. Particularly in startups and small companies, team members work long hours, very closely together. Therefore, it’s crucial that people get along.

That one minor personality conflict will be amplified a hundredfold when you’re all working in close quarters six months down the road. Don’t overlook it. Go for the people who can honestly explain what they like and dislike. Those are the people who care and will tell you the truth when they claim to believe in the core values you defined earlier.

Don’t forget to check references

Skills, experience, and enthusiasm are worthless in a person with a poor work ethic. Anyone who struggles to provide solid, believable references should be nixed.

Hire as soon as it makes sense

When you feel it’s time to grow and it makes sense financially, make the hire. Adding another person to the team takes whole projects and routines off your busy to-do list. The added brainpower and sheer work hours are a real lift to everyone.

Adding to your team is daunting, but when approached carefully, thoughtfully and with the right preparation, is very likely to be successful. Be sure to step back from the resume and engage your candidates, share the work culture, seek examples of their work and ensure they’ll fit in well with the team.


Let Authentic Jobs help you make that great hire.

How to Define a New Role at a Startup

How to Define a New Role at a Startup

As a startup founder or team lead, you already have a lot on your plate. Growing the business and keeping it running on the day-to-day is hard enough without throwing hiring into the mix.

When it does come time to hire, it can be difficult to gauge what your team needs. This is made even harder when a startup is young or lacks a defined company structure.

Defining a new role is the first step to making a great hire. Wrapping your head around the required skills, personality, and experience of a new employee will save you time and sanity in the long run.

Required Skills

Start by thinking of the tasks and responsibilities that the new role will be responsible for. Then, make a list of skills a person will realistically need to accomplish these tasks successfully.
Let’s take a graphic designer as an example. The new hire might be responsible for designing for a variety of formats, building out your brand, and managing web design. To do these things, the designer will probably need skills in the Adobe Creative Suite and HTML & CSS.

Now, take it a step further and envision how this person will fit in with your team’s current skillset. If there are gaps with your current team, a new hire might be able to fill them. For example, the graphic designer might also need illustration skills or have experience building teams. Think of any skills that might not be explicitly implied in an average description for the title, and add them to your posting.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at job descriptions for similar roles. If you have other employees, ask them to draft a description what the new hire’s day-to-day should look like and any skills they feel would round out the team. This gives you a candid peek into how your team thinks a new employee could contribute to overall goals.

Personality and Characteristics

When the team is small, finding a personality that fits in with your organization’s culture and vision is just as important as finding the right skillset. Before interviewing people, think about your company culture and what a person needs to excel within your team.

Start by considering your industry. If you build software for the non-profit sector, a genuine interest or passion in the area you serve could be fundamental to the role.

Also consider the team you already have and their personalities and working style. What would a person need to fit within this structure? Do you need a flexible person that’s ready and willing to take direction, or do you need a confident go-getter that will proactively seek out work instead of waiting to be directed?

Take stock of your current employees’ strengths and weaknesses and think about how an ideal candidate’s personality traits would fit in and complement them. By doing so, you’ll be bringing your company to the next level with each additional team member.

Experience Level and Company Structure

One of the most important factors in finding the right candidate for your organization is to find the right experience level for your needs and budget allowance. Would you like a hungry entry-level employee that’s ready to roll up their sleeves and learn, or do you need a more seasoned professional that can help lead the team when you’re offsite?

Many startup founders and team leads wear many hats, but juggling responsibilities can lead to inefficient and overwhelmed management. If you already have several employees reporting to you, it could be a good time to bring in a more senior employee to manage teams.

On the other hand, if you already have a solid team of senior employees ready to take on more responsibility, this could be a good time to bring in a more junior member to take on production.

Growth Strategy

Thinking about how each hire affects overall growth is an important thing to keep in mind. Depending on your product, you may require talent upfront to bring your product to launch, or you could keep things lean until the product is ready to enter market.

Also consider how this role fits into your startup’s needs in the short and long term. It’s natural to need evolving skillsets as a company grows—generalists are usually fundamental at the beginning while specialists are more helpful when the team reaches larger sizes.

Of course, budget should also be top of mind. As you define a new role, consider your reason for hiring and how your needs balance with what you can afford. If you’re short-handed after signing a big contract, consider the stability and longevity of the role before hiring full-time employees. If the demand is beginning to grow but your profit isn’t stable, consider freelance or contract talent. This will help you fulfill your current requirements without overextending budgets.

Defining Roles Sets You Up For Success

Building a team from scratch is one of the hardest things founders and leads have to do. Taking time to define the role before digging in can set you up for success in the long term. It helps set expectations for you and the new hire and gives everyone a framework to work from.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to trust your gut. In a lot of cases, personality outweighs skills that can be taught over time. Sometimes assembling the right group of people is more important than meeting the responsibilities set on paper.


Find your next new teammate by posting on Authentic Jobs.

How to Spot a Superstar in a Stack of Applications

How to Spot a Superstar in a Stack of Applications

Hiring has never been tougher. Thanks to the rise of job boards and sites like LinkedIn, employers now receive hundreds of applications for positions ranging from entry-level graphic designers all the way up to CEOs.

Missing out on top talent is a costly mistake – not only will it slow your organization’s growth, but you can be certain your competition is waiting in the wings to sign the best and brightest to their team.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you sort through an avalanche of applications and find that next superstar hire.

Start With The Goal

You think you know what you want. But do you really?

Planning ahead to truly understand what you’re looking for before you even write the job posting will not only make your life easier, it’ll also lead to better candidates applying for the position.

After all, a top-tier applicant isn’t going to bother applying for a job description that’s gibberish – and they’re certainly not going to pursue the opportunity if you can’t explain the position clearly.

Think about the intangible qualities that make the position you’re hiring for unique. Are you looking for a graphic designer or an art director? Perhaps the job posting was titled “head of sales” but what you’re really looking for is a right hand. Or maybe you insisted that next programmer be based out of your Bay-area office, when in reality they could work remotely.

The point is, you need to have a vision for every position you fill. Take the time to truly understand your expectations before looking for talent.

Make Three Lists

After you understand your vision for the role, make three lists:

Must haves
These are the qualities, experiences, and skills that are essential. For example, if you’re hiring a programmer, they need to know how to code in specific languages.


Nice to haves
That programmer mentioned above obviously needs to code – but what if you’re a small startup and everyone needs to chip in? In that case, you may want a developer with industry connections to help with business development.

Deal breakers
This is the list of things that makes a candidate a non-starter. Perhaps most of your team is working remotely now, but you need to hire an entry-level member of the marketing team to double as an office manager. In that case, refusing to relocate would be a deal breaker.

Start Sorting – Ruthlessly and Immediately

Sorting through mountains of resumes, cover letters, and portfolios can seem daunting.

It’s tempting to put off the hard work of doing a deep dive into the applications you receive. It’s also tempting to steal away a few minutes here and there to glance at resumes as they land in your inbox.

The better approach is to schedule a few hours every couple days to dig in and review each application. As you do, sort them based on the three lists you made earlier.

Reject anyone who lands in the deal breaker category immediately, and set aside candidates who check off the must have boxes. If someone fits into both the must have and nice to have categories, schedule those interviews right away.

Candidates who surprise you (in a good way) may also deserve special treatment. If someone has gone above and beyond to make a creative application or if they bring something exceptional to the table (such as experience working for your competition), consider putting them at the top of the interview pile – even if other applicants look better on paper.

Know When to Wait

Some candidates might not meet the must-haves or the deal breakers. You shouldn’t have to settle, but you don’t want to close the door on a good candidate.

It’s best to wait on these applicants and return to them later, so put these folks in another folder. If a candidate seems to have the right qualities to fit in with the team but doesn’t quite meet your expectations for this particular role, file his or her resume away for future reference.

If you don’t find someone who feels right after the first round of interviews, take a second look at this pile. Ask yourself if a “must have” quality may be better suited for the “nice to have” list. If there’s someone in this category you like, introduce them to some trusted colleagues. Often your coworkers can provide a good gut check about whether or not that applicant will make a good fit.

Good hires can change the game.

Finding your next game-changing hire is easy when you follow these four steps. Start by doing the hard work of understanding your own expectations. Then divide those expectations into three lists and triage the candidates in a way that makes sense for the role.

Happy (head) hunting!


Hire your next superstar on Authentic Jobs.

Acing Salary Negotiations as a Remote Worker

Acing Salary Negotiations as a Remote Worker

You’ve made it this far. You’ve gotten through the HR screening, the interviews, and the reference checks. The offer is on the table (or coming shortly), and you know this could be a mutually beneficial relationship if you move forward.

Before making any decisions, make sure you’re prepared for proper negotiations with these simple steps.

Know the market rate by location

Conduct your own research to have a strong understanding of the market rate in both your city and your employer’s city. This is important to do so you can come into negotiations balancing your skillsets and the current market rate. If you’re working with a company outside of your country, stick to local currencies and consider how the cost of living differs.

Knowing the market rate in your city gives you an idea of what you would make if you accepted a full-time position locally, while looking into the employer’s city provides the rate they would be paying non-remote workers in the same role.

There are a lot of online resources that allow you to search specific job titles, years of experience, company size, and set regions. Check out Indeed Salary Search, Glassdoor, and Salary.com to get started. For an employer’s perspective, read Buffer’s Medium post on how it calculates remote worker salaries.

If you have time to prepare, it’s beneficial to explore other location rates before going into negotiations. As a remote worker, prospective offers could come from anywhere. Your employer needs to understand a better offer could come around next month if they’re not meeting a global standard—and maybe you would rather hold out for that offer and the higher compensation

Restate your value from a new perspective

At this point, the company has read through your resume and spoken to your references. Ultimately, the recruiter is sold, but the negotiation process is an opportunity to “re-sell” yourself from a new perspective.

Now is a good time to remind both yourself and your potential employer of the value you offer.

Don’t focus on what you’ve achieved in the past because that’s what brought you to the table. Focus on your unique value and how you see yourself impacting the company’s long-term growth. Be confident you can make a difference and show enthusiasm about the opportunity to join the team. Remind them of the guaranteed return on investment of your employment, and your negotiations will start off with a respectful offer.

Provide a strategic range

Do you hit them with a cold, hard number or propose an open range? It’s the ultimate salary negotiation question.
Some candidates prefer a range with their desired salary in the middle, hoping for the offer to “meet them halfway”. Some employment specialists lean towards providing a single number, because potential employers take advantage of the lower end of the range you offer.

But why not let them?

The trick here is how you set your salary range.

When hoping for a $75,000 salary, it’s natural to spit out a range of $70,000 to $80,000. Instead, try setting the bottom of your range to what you actually want. In this example, we would offer a range of $75,000-95,000. By doing this, your employer feels like they’re getting a deal at $75,000, and you walk away with what you wanted. If they meet you halfway, you score some extra cash on top or alternatively, they may offer additional benefits to balance your request.

As long as you keep the “low” number reasonable based off your research and the value you provide, employers rarely come back with a refusal to meet you somewhere within your provided range.

Look at the whole package

Once you’ve conducted research and put your numbers on the table, it’s easy to forget about perks that aren’t reflected in the salary. Keep these in mind throughout your negotiations.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Is there an opportunity to travel like you’ve always wanted to?
  • Does the company offer flexible hours that fit into your early riser schedule?
  • Does it allow you to manage an incredible team of skilled individuals?
  • Can you work on your own projects on the side, if desired?
  • How will this position help you progress in your career, learn new skills, or gain important experience?

While negotiations focus on financial compromise, keep these other components in mind. When evaluating two options, Company A may provide 20% more compensation but Company B might be the best choice because it fits your lifestyle and makes you excited to work.

Making your decision solely based off the numbers could mean finding yourself searching for something new in no time.

Be willing to walk away

There’s nothing more valuable than knowing your worth.

Negotiations are an opportunity for give and take, but ask yourself whether you’re giving too much, what value exists beyond salary, and if the job is the right step in your career.

These questions are what’s going to help you decide if a company’s final offer is the right decision for you. Sometimes you may just land your dream job, but other times you may be clouded with compliments before realizing someone is taking advantage of you.

See how their offer compares to what you feel you’re worth. If it’s not adding up, speak up, but accept that you may have to walk away.


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6 Must-Haves For The Perfect Remote Job Posting

6 Must-Haves For The Perfect Remote Job Posting

Hiring might be hard, but hiring for remote work is even harder. Recruiters need someone who is skilled in their area of expertise and able to work remotely—a duo that isn’t always easy to find.

For candidates, job postings are the only way to communicate a job description, your company’s culture, and team dynamics. Writing a great job posting for remote workers takes additional information that you might not think about for traditional office positions.

Accurately Describe Your Remote Situation

Few companies are actually open to remote work, even though many advertise otherwise. Various terms used to describe remote work further confuse people, so it’s important to choose the right one for your team’s situation. Below are three common terms and the differences between them.

Remote First
A remote first company means everyone works from where they wish, usually because the founders worked this way early on and kept it up. These companies typically have strong internal enthusiasm for remote work and a culture that supports distributed teams.

Remote-first essentially means “remote-only”. There might not be any office space and people might have to get on planes to visit a coworker.

Remote Friendly
Being a remote friendly company carries inconsistent meaning and ranges from “you can work from home on Fridays” to “we have entire teams that are remote-first”.

Experienced remote workers are usually wary about this term, especially if other parts of the job description don’t clarify exactly what it means. Some remote friendly companies require everyone to be in the same city or expect people to be in an office several times per week.

Distributed
A distributed company quickly describes a team with remote and/or onsite workers. As the name suggests, people might be all over the place. Sometimes this applies on a per-team basis, so the job description should clarify if just the team or entire company works remotely.

Communicate Logistical Requirements

Once the job description uses the correct term to describe remote work expectations, it’s best to focus on the logistics of distributed work.

Remote workers value the ability to control their own schedules. Many tailor their work to accommodate family needs or personal hobbies. Save time by being clear with exact requirements regarding geography or online presence. Some examples:

  • We get together once a year in person at our headquarters for a yearly meeting.
  • We expect you to be at your desk and online using instant messaging software during traditional EST business hours, 8 – 5.
  • We only check-in with each other once a day at stand up, and you are free to do a solid day’s work at any other time.

Experienced remote workers are sensitive to these requirements, and being upfront in the job posting can save you time and future disappointment.

Explain Why A Company is Remote

Managing remote workers is in itself a manager skillset and an organizational competency.

Tell this story in the job description by explaining what made the company remote and how long it has worked that way. Were the founders of the company on two different sides of the country? Are you on your second year of this team being remote, but the rest of the company is not remote-friendly at all?

If this is too much, a simple explanation of why a company is remote can speak volumes. For example: “We value results over physical presence” or “We feel that remote workers can concentrate on hard problems, and we solve hard problems.”

Mention Your Communication and Collaboration Process

A common challenge for remote teams is staying in sync without relying on constant physical check-ins and ad-hoc discussions. Experienced remote workers know this, and adapt by writing stuff down and working asynchronously.

Candidates can get a clearer picture of a job if the posting explains what systems the company uses and how it handles coordination. There’s no need to reveal logistical secrets here, but a simple explanation can clarify communication expectations and weed out unqualified candidates.

Company Health

Remote workers want stable jobs with future opportunity. These candidates tend to stay at jobs for longer simply because they have arranged their lives around a remote job and finding another one is harder.

For this reason, they are sensitive to company health. Remote workers can’t take a chance on a company that might not be around next year.

If possible, indicate in the job posting whether you have a high-functioning team and company. Experienced workers know their team matters more than the overall company—but only as long as the company stays in business.

Red Flags

The biggest red flag for experienced remote workers is being told that they will be in the minority of the company. Remote work is a cultural, procedural, and personal change for a company and a worker. Remote companies communicate and work differently than in-office ones.

If only some teams work distributed, be honest about this. If only this team member will not be in the office, explain that but beware that this is a huge red flag. Talk about why you might be testing this arrangement and how the company will work to avoid the “two-team” effect.

Also, don’t overemphasize how great your physical office is. Remote workers don’t care as they won’t get to enjoy it, and it might turn them off as they might fear you will ask them to move there two years from now.

Creating the perfect job posting for remote workers

Job postings for remote workers need to be updated to include additional information and answers that candidates expect upfront. Ensure that your job description properly describes the company’s work style, explains logistics of remote work, and provides a glimpse into the future of the company.

Making these changes to job postings will save you time and set expectations for the role from the start—helping you find the perfect candidate even faster.


Hire talented and experienced remote talent on Authentic Jobs.
Or find your next remote (or non-remote!) job.

How to Prepare for a Remote Job Interview

How to Prepare for a Remote Job Interview

You’ve got an interview for a sweet remote working position. Congratulations. Now it’s time to prepare. Of course, you should follow the advice that any candidate should adhere to, like researching the company and your interviewer, appear enthusiastic and so on. There’s also prep work that’s unique to a telecommuting interview that you must not overlook.

There are questions you should ask, others you should expect, as well as things you ought to do before and during the interview to demonstrate that you are the very person to join a remote team. Here are the best practices we suggest for anyone preparing to interview for a telecommuting gig.

Do your Homework

Whenever you interview for a job, you’ve got to do your homework. There’s the usual stuff, like learning about the company and the people you’ll be talking with, understanding the field and so on. There are also a few key things you should do before interviewing for a telecommuting position. These things will help identify you as a person who can work from home successfully.

First, demonstrate that you’re comfortable using the tools that of a self-reliant home worker. If your would-be employer suggests a time that won’t work with your schedule, suggest alternatives. This seems obvious, but it demonstrates the flexibility that a remote worker just has. A tool like Doodle is great here, as it’s just the kind of communication tool that those managing remote workers love.

Also, send a calendar invite, and provide times for your location as well as your interviewers. In doing so, you demonstrate an awareness of the time zone dance and accommodate for it. Finally, suggest several options for speaking, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, UberConference, etc. With that done, it’s on to the interview itself.

Interview Logistics & Preparation

Understand that the interview for a remote job will likely be conducted remotely. You’ll probably have an audio call (phone, Skype, etc.) and a video component. Each has unique preparation steps.

If you’ll be interviewed by phone or other audio call (Skype, etc.):

  1. Don’t “check out” during the conversation. It’s easy to be distracted or otherwise let your attention drift when the interviewer can’t see you. No looking out the window or letting your gaze drift to Twitter for a second. Act as if you’re in the same room as your interviewer.
  2. Be aware that you can’t rely on facial expressions or body language to convey information. If you’re smiling, they don’t know it. Therefore…
  3. Your voice takes on increased importance. Since you can’t rely on visuals to convey enthusiasm or interest, speak clearly and with energy. They can’t see the spark in your eyes, so let them hear it in your voice. I’m not saying to be artificially animated, but be aware that of how you sound.

If you make it past the phone- interview, you may have to participate in a video interview via Skype or Google Hangout. Additionally, I once had to record a video of myself answering questions I received via email. Both are common practices when interviewing for a remote job. Here’s how to prepare for this bit and do well.

  1. Look presentable. Again, this goes without saying. Yes, you’re home, but this is not a casual affair. Get dressed.
  2. Be aware of your background. That epic Led Zeppelin poster is awesome, but an interviewer doesn’t want to see it. Ditto the pile of laundry. Make sure your environment looks professional.
  3. Be aware of lighting. Is your face visible and easy to see? Sit aside a window for nice, natural light.  
  4. Be aware of audio. No, you don’t need a professional mic but if you’re in an echo-y room, move. Even the mic on your ear buds will often be better than the one that’s built in on your computer.

Remember, a part of a video interview is to test that you can work with the tools you’ll need to communicate with your employers. If you struggle with a simple video call, the probably won’t want to have regular remote meetings with you.

Lastly, just before you get started, kill bandwidth-hogging apps like Dropbox, etc., turn off any unnecessary noise in the area like the TV or a noisy air conditioner and finally, wear headphones and a mic, even a cheap one.

Questions to expect

First off, you’ll hear the questions that pop up in most interviews, like “What do you know about the company?” and “Why should we hire you?” Prepare for these remote-specific inquiries as well:

“Have you worked remotely before?”

An interviewer will want evidence of your ability to work independently. Past remote experience will be good here. If you don’t have any experience with remote work (or very little), emphasize the experience you do have. Did a snow day force you to work from home on a wintry day? If so, how did you cope? Does your current brick-and-mortar job require a lot of independent, self-directed work (for example, photo editing at your desk)? Explain how this demonstrates your ability to be self-directed without a lot of interaction/supervision from others.

“Do you have a home office?”

While an employer may be happy with having you work from home, they might not want you at the coffee shop where prying eyes can look over your shoulder and see something that ought to be confidential. Additionally, they may require that you have certain basic equipment in place, like a certain internet speed or a scanner. If you’re on an audio interview, do your best to paint a picture of your workspace.

“How do you handle distractions?”

You know this question is coming. Have an answer ready.

Questions to ask

The questions you ask can be just as important as the answers you provide. As someone interviewing for a remote position, these three should be on your list:

  1. How do remote workers communicate with each other and people back at the office?
  2. How long has remote work been offered at the organization?
  3. How many employees work remotely?

By and large, interviewing for a work-from-home position is much like any interview you’ll take. With the tweaks and preparations mentioned above, you’ll greatly enhance your chances of nailing it. Good luck.

 

Want a great hire? Start with a great job listing.

Want a great hire? Start with a great job listing.

One of the most frequently asked questions in the Authentic Jobs support inbox is “How do I get people to apply?”

While individual motivations are tough to pin down, here are a few things we’ve observed about applicant behavior.

First, remote jobs receive exponentially more views, clicks, and applications. People want to work from anywhere, apparently. Second, jobs with disclosed salary ranges receive more applications than those that don’t.. Unfortunately, not all work can be done remotely, nor are all employers set up for remote work, and salary disclosures are tricky.

Regardless of your team set up, the universal tool for boosting applicant quality and quantity is a well-crafted job listing. The humble listing is an overlooked art form. At its best, a listing reaches out and grabs the perfect candidate(s), and there is much rejoicing. Because it is an art form, there’s not a perfect formula for writing a listing, but there are some characteristics.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the components of a compelling job listing, and tell you why they work.

TL;DR:

Frequently, candidates are skimming employment sites for posts that fit their interests and skill level. But they’re evaluating a lot of possibilities, and frankly, they don’t have the time to read a job listing rivaling the length of War & Peace.

Keep your paragraphs short, and use concise language. Use bulleted lists for required skills, responsibilities, and experience. If you can make it a list instead of a paragraph, do so.

Tell them what they’ll be doing

Candidates want to know if the job is work that they want to do, in an industry segment in which they have interest. Give them specifics. What are their concrete responsibilities? What is the specific product?

Of equal importance is telling people what your company does. Your ideal candidate may have no idea who you are, and just like meeting anyone for the first time, a clear introduction is best. Without using hyperbole, exaggeration, or buzzwords, explain what it is you do. If you build a product, explain what your product does.

While saying “We build life-changing synergistic applications for direct to consumer medical use” is an accurate description, it means very little to those outside of your organization.   

“We build software to help people monitor their diabetes at home” is the same statement, but no one fell asleep while reading it.

Blackbox explains their business concept at the very beginning of their job listing. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

A short description that leaves no doubts as to the company's purpose.

A short description that leaves no doubts as to the company’s purpose.

 

What do you expect?

Along with letting people know what they’ll be expected to do, let candidates to know what skills you expect them to have on day one.  It can be tempting to ask for an alphabet soup of programming languages, libraries, and tools, but how many of those are critical to the daily work of the new hire?

It’s important to remember that languages, frameworks, and tools are learnable, teachable things that are in a constant state of flux. It’s impossible for a candidate to have each and every one of them to an expert degree.

Be mindful of the timelines of your requirements. Requiring a degree and ten years experience in a programming language that has only been around for 5, will land you swiftly in an applicant’s “Nope” bin because it implies that you’re unfamiliar with the tools and the community.

To that point, highlight the opportunities and tools you offer to help your employees to grow their skills, such as conference stipends, book allowances, tuition reimbursement, and other education partnerships. It indicates that your company understands that new and different skills may be needed to keep up, and you’re interested in growing employees, rather than trudging forward with the same tools.

Talk about people

This job posting from Help Scout stood out for its clear description of the people who would be working with the new hire.

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HelpScout introduces the people their new hire will be working with in their listing.

Not only did they name them, they explained how each person’s work would interact with the work of the new hire. Clearly explaining team roles in this manner lays out the new hire’s day-to-day, and it illustrates how different departments intersect.

Set yourself apart

While many postings highlight amenities like free beer and ping pong tables, applicants pay more attention to amenities like parental and family leave policies, paid time off, healthcare coverage, and retirement plans. Job seekers are looking for numbers, too.

How many weeks parental leave do they receive? How much PTO? Is the policy unlimited, or have you opted for a minimum vacation policy? Do you offer employer matching on retirement? 

This post from MeetEdgar explains some of their perks, and also links to an external document that explains their full benefits package. 

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MeetEdgar’s perk of monthly cleaning services for your home office is definitely a notable.

Show them the money

Being upfront about compensation helps applicants set expectations, and can prevent an abrupt end to an otherwise smooth recruitment process.

Authentic Jobs offers a “tiers” system that displays a range of compensation, and we find that postings that list compensation receive more applicants. Applicants know how much money they need to be comfortable, and these salary tiers are also a search filter, so adding pay to your listing will help your listing match with a candidate’s expectations.

Not every employer can give numbers in their job posting, but if you’ve got other forms of compensation, that’s certainly something to share. Much like perks, the more details you can give, the better.

Where?

Where do you want your candidates to be? If you’re a fully distributed company where people can work from anywhere, shout that from the rooftops.  If you’re running a time sensitive project that requires lots of face to face interaction with clients in a particular city, you’ll want to be upfront about that geographic restriction.

Further, be clear about your ability to hire workers internationally, and to sponsor visas for applicants. Authentic Jobs draws candidates from across the globe, and this information is very important for them.

Give directions

So now that a candidate is enamored with your company and ready to apply, what do you want from them? Do you want a cover letter or no? How should candidates submit portfolios? How many samples do you want in those portfolios?

Portfolio submission instructions from Atlantic Media: https://www.authenticjobs.com/jobs/28814/junior-product-designer

Portfolio submission instructions from Atlantic Media’s post for a Junior Product Designer.

Keep in mind, applicants who are actively job hunting may be submitting 10 or more applications a day, and a complex or overly burdensome application process is just another reason to skip your job. Make sure that you’re requesting only the information you’ll use and need, and make it easy for applicants to get it to you.

Remember that your job posting is essentially your application to the candidate, and so it warrants putting a few sets of eyes on your posting. Have your technologists evaluate the skills section. Have you HR rep make sure you’ve included important perks. Have everyone check for spelling!

By combining a solid job listing with a great pool of candidates (what can we say, Authentic Jobs users are pretty fantastic), the perfect match is just a few clicks away.