Hiring remote developers means that you can get the absolute best person for the job, not just one who is willing to live or relocate to your city. So it’s no surprise that more and more companies are changing their hiring strategy to include remote candidates. If you’re thinking about opening up your job vacancies to remote candidates, there are a few additional skills you’ll want to look for when you start hiring. We asked hiring managers and CEOs what they look for when hiring remote developers, and here’s what they had to say.
Gabe Fenigsohn, Research Manager at digital agency Cardwell Beach, says a critical trait he looks for in remote developers is the ability to code in a flat collaborative model. Fenigsohn says, “A flat collaborative model is a means of working that breaks down the traditional hierarchies you find in many businesses, where a single manager dictates and a team of workers produce. This model doesn't work well for us, as we have developers and other team members working worldwide, all with their own unique competencies and experience. Instead, we ‘guide the work’ by putting the deliverable first. Our developers are encouraged to collaborate on solving the problem, rather than deferring to a manager to solve it first. This way, our developers are proactive about offering solutions, rather than waiting for guidance—a crucial skill in a fast-paced industry.”
Most developers who apply for these types of positions have previous experience working in a remote setting (at least part-time). Gibson Tang, a Consultant at Azukisoft, specifically looks for this prior experience when interviewing candidates for his company.
Tang says, “For employees that work in-house, they can be junior developers who require a lot of training as I can be there to train them. But for remote employees, it is hard to train them technically. So I require that they already have a certain level of development expertise along with some prior experience with freelancing.”
It sounds a bit obvious to say that communication skills are important when hiring a remote employee, but it’s commonly referred to for a reason. Remote employees don’t have the benefit of communicating in-person, face-to-face with their teammates, which can put them at a disadvantage. Bart Mroz, CEO and Head of Brand Experience at SUMO Heavy, agrees, saying, “It takes a special kind of person to be a great remote developer or engineer. A developer who’s great at resource management and meticulous with her or his work is always a plus, but for remote workers communication, teamwork, and the ability to prioritize are even more important. A remote developer must be able to communicate and work effectively with the team because disparate time zones often make direct communication difficult. Effective communication can keep things running smoothly in spite of these time differences.”
Instead of just adding “great communication skills” as a requirement in your job listing, be more specific. What specifically are you looking for in the way they communicate? How does your team communicate, and can this candidate mesh well with that? Ask lots of open-ended questions during the interview process to get a sense of how the candidate deals with these communication issues, too.
Evan Rose, a Web/Mobile Applications Developer at Rose Digital, looks to learn more about the candidate’s working style. “Are they a slow and steady dev or a spurt developer who can finish the work but does it in a spectacular flurry of 3 am commits? Working style matters when teams are distributed because there are sometimes complex dependency maps for any one feature.”