Remote Work
Red Flags To Steer Clear Of While Hiring Remote Employees 
Red Flags To Steer Clear Of While Hiring Remote Employees 

Red Flags To Steer Clear Of While Hiring Remote Employees 

Small but important indicators of candidates who might not be the right fit for your organization.

It is now easier than ever to get your business operations fully online from a logistics perspective, thanks to the vastness of resources available. Recruiting remote workers, however, can be a daunting task of the virtual office setup. Yet, it is one of the first essential steps of starting an online business management project. 

It is important to know what you are looking for and what kind of characteristics the future remote member of your operations team has to possess. However, an often overlooked aspect of remote recruiting is setting clear boundaries as to what we do not want our company or organization challenged with.

The relationship between a remote employer and an employee is a complex concept to consider when planning company operations. Figuring out how to hire a remote employee is very limited by communication options – which some of us figured out the hard way. 

Learning from previous missteps, I’m here to share what to look out for while hiring for freelance work or virtual work of any kind. 

Red flags during initial recruiting 

Many of us wonder how to hire remote employees without taking risks of investing in training programs, which are good for performance and reduce absenteeism. Early on in the recruiting process, there are a few things that a company’s human resources team can do to make sure the future work from home team member will be one to stay. 

Also, keep in mind that as an employer, you must also make sure to let your candidates know about your remote work culture and the initiatives you will be undertaking to engage with the team. Although it is important to screen your candidates, it is equally important to have a good company culture to boast about. 

Image credit: Unsplash

The gateway system

The first thing I now make before working on a project that requires a couple of new team members is the gateway system for the candidates. Depending on the project, be it a customer service department for a new online store or the writing team of a resource centre, establishing a strict gateway system makes decision-making in the remote interview setup faster and easier.

Disclaimer: The requirements that you set when hiring remote workers must always be in accordance with the law!

For instance, in the case of building a content writing team for the website, the remote work recruiting step was very novel to everyone involved, leading to quite a few initial mistakes.

Here’s an example of a gateway system for a writer’s position that our company wanted to start a recruiting campaign for. A question on an Urban Dictionary joke, during a game of Trivia on Bored with the website team, sparked the idea of this list. It was a great team-building experience to put together a “new blood disqualifiers list”. 

  • Serious email address - no suspicious email addresses could get past our filters
  • A clear profile photo on at least one social media site online that speaks of availability 
  • A resume that’s well-written and free of grammatical errors 
  • The candidate should have their video active for the interview and should test their setup in advance

A red flag for us is if the candidate came off as unprepared or unprofessional during the interview. Even a virtual office has some attire requirements.

Another red flag we looked out for was if they didn’t have questions for us which showcased inadequate research and/or disinterest on their part. If your remote team is looking for an active member who engages and works well in a collaborative environment, you should look for people that are curious.

Brownie points for picking up on the first dial or joining the call on time. Other factors include responding yes to the calendar invite and having good audio quality during the whole shebang.

The final stages - they made it! 

The people who pass the gateway system and the remote interview will usually have a second chat with their potential future supervisor. That’s usually when there’s a whole remote recruiting team available to do initial HR screenings. Nonetheless, there is another set of remote employee red flags that become more obvious during the more rigorous stages of the process.

Overly enthusiastic about the paid training period 

A lot of remote jobs offer paid training and make sure that the onboarding process shows exactly why their culture should be supported through the new team member. But when a new work from home candidate is more concerned about the training than what they will be doing after, it’s a red flag for training hunters. Make sure to take a good look at previous collaborations and references. 

Image credit: Pexels

Get out of jail free card 

This refers to the questions remote work candidates ask that could indicate a tendency to try to get out of work and be, well, less accountable than desired. For example, “How strict is your absenteeism policy?” or “What kind of warning system do you have for tardiness?” can be red flags. Make sure to always follow up if you’re not sure on what conclusion to draw. 


Unless presented with a great alibi, I usually would disqualify anyone who was more than 10 minutes late to the interview we had set up. Remote workers need to be able to adhere to strict timelines just as they would in a hybrid or fully in-office work environment.

Insecurity regarding capabilities, availability, or schedule 

One of the red flags I’ve learned to spot in the final interview had to do with people insisting on learning more about how they can work less for more money. When candidates insist on having certain benefits right off the bat, minus an interest in becoming an achiever within the new work environment, I usually turn the candidate down. There’s a thin line between working remotely and remotely working. 

Trust your gut 

Last, but not least, as the final point of evaluation, you should know that your gut is (almost) always right. I usually take my sweet time when deciding who to bring onto the remote team. Some final interview durations exceed an hour, but luckily, not very often. Although sometimes recruiting campaigns, especially for remote jobs that need to be filled ASAP, can be fast-paced, it is always a good investment to spend some time making sure you bring in the right people to your virtual team. 

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