Talento | Employers

Remote Managers Series Part 4: Hire someone without ever meeting them in person

by Carlos A. Vázquez    |    May 13, 2020    |      7 min read


Hire someone remote without ever meeting them in person

Previously on Remote Manager Series: Part 3 – Planning for success

Who would’ve thought we’d come to hire someone remote without ever meeting them in person? It has become not only a trend, but I suspect it has the potential to become the norm moving forward.

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Start the process with the right foot – Be very specific in your job description, job responsibilities, and success metrics. 

Being ambiguous is the first point of failure. Without clarity at this point, there is no clarity when someone joins your team. It sounds simple, like something that every company does. Still, we’ve seen way too many managers jump right into hiring for a title, not a job responsibility, assuming they’ll be able to identify what they need when they see it. 

Take your time to craft a real job description – this will also ensure you understand what activities exactly need to be accomplished and if the position is even required – talk to people that will work with the new team member and ask them what their expectations are. 

If times’ a constraint, go straight to the job responsibilities. Add every responsibility that you want the new recruit to accomplish – be specific. Don’t stop there, add success metrics associated with those responsibilities to measure performance and accomplishment. 

Managers might fall into the trap that creating a well rounded up description is a loss of time, but I’d flip that mentality around and say that by not taking time to do this, you are losing time when looking for your recruits. 

Our formula:

Job description

  • We fill this last. We see this as the result of adding responsibilities and skills needed. Writing this is the ‘salesy’ part of the job description. 


  • Answer the question – what will they be doing? Who are they reporting to? 

Candidate Profile, Skills, and Requirements

  • We talk about the type of educational, skills, and professional experience we’re looking for. 

Company description and why you’d want to join our team. 

  • Talk about us, where we’re going, and why we’re a cool team to join. 

Small task to apply

  • We add a small task at the end, like sending an email to an address we provide to filter out people who apply only to apply. 

The outcome is filtered profiles that know what exactly you’re looking for and what you want. You’ll get fewer profiles to look at, but more quality profiles to add to your interview process. 

The secret to a successful remote hiring interview process? Don’t reinvent the wheel. 

Shoot for the same cycle of interviews. Add several filters early on to spot folks that don’t fit your culture and your needs. Examples of this are 15-minute phone screens, requesting an email with more information, and a small, but specific action to include in the email.

Some might say that even if you’re not sending an email right, it doesn’t mean your skillset is not aligned with the job your applying for, and they’re right. However, if your position demands attention to detail and strict follow-ups, then this will weed out those who don’t fit that description – even if they have the skills. 

Add a layer of skill demonstration in the form of a short project and presentation or real-world problem-solving during an interview (much like a case interview). This will show a hands-on approach to what they can accomplish and in what timeframes.  

We love this approach because it tells you a lot about someone without ever having to work together:

  • How do they analyze and draw conclusions based on raw data?
  • Where do they draw ideas from? Are they analytical, logical, aspirational, or idealistic? 
  • How good are they at presenting information

Our formula:

15 minutes initial phone screen

  • Get to know them as people. Understand why there is interest in the position and the company – Responding bleakly about the intentions, or not having specific get’s them disqualified. 
  • If you find them suitable, ask them to follow-up with a quick email with a specific task to complete within the email and dates for a full-interview. 

1 hour CV probing interview

  • 30-45 minutes talking about their experiences asking who, what, how, and what result.
    • Probe specifically for tasks where the interview led vs. participated.
    • Ask about continuous learning and updating 
  • 10 minutes of questions from them
    • Having questions about our company and department is always a good signal of finding a fit. 

Take-home project with 2 days to complete

  • Comprehensive test of the actual activities they will be working on a day-to-day basis using a real-world problem. 
  • The complete project must be turned in and presented at a later date. 

1 hour of project presentation

  • Walk-through the project and talk about the reasoning behind doing things that way. 
    • Here we’re looking for both knowledge and creativity. It also showcases that they know how to accomplish tasks related to the position itself. 
  • Q&A from the department head about the project

A 30-minute meeting with other department heads

  • Department heads talk individually to the potential hiree to get to know them. 
  • Questions are asked about interdepartmental collaboration and how the candidate has managed those relationships in the past. 

The final decision and offer

  • Extend an offer to the candidate via conference call. 

Remote onboarding needs human connection and an over-explanation of things—the two weeks schedule. 

Once you’ve decided who to hire, signed the paperwork, and set a start date, you have to jump to get them to full speed as quickly as possible. 

Remember, at this point; you’re doing a FULLY remote onboarding process, which means plenty of video conferencing. So leave time in for resting in-between sessions. Don’t try to cram everything in the same session. 

The success of onboarding remotely depends on setting the stage before day one. That means getting them a full swag kit shipped to them, getting their email and all their software credentials set-up, and sending an informative email about the process. 

Once the onboarding process kicks off, be sure to over-communicate every bit of information about the company, the department the new recruit will form part of, and the individual area they will work on. 

Without being in-person, many things can be lost if you don’t over-communicate as a manager. Try to pause now and then to resolve questions about procedures, goals, or company information. 


Our formula:

Before the onboarding start date we do the following:

  • Ship out a swag kit composed of a t-shirt, stickers, coffee mug, and notepad. 
  • Create their email and Google Drive
  • Give them access to the pertinent folders and files
  • Access to chat software (Slack in our case) and other digital tools they might use. 
  • Remote Manager sends a welcome email with the onboarding flow and a calendar schedule. 

The two-week schedule takes them to step by step through a series of informative presentations and introductions through different dates:

  1. General company introduction and welcome by the CEO
  2. Department introduction and welcome by the whole department
  3. Area introduction and expectations
  4. Area tools, documents, and activities
  5. Planning and Goal-setting best practices
  6. Weekly meetings and procedures
  7. Studying previous strategies, initiatives, and accomplishments
  8. Two-week goal setting and check-in schedule
  9. Day 2 check-in 
  10. Day 4 check-in
  11. Day 6 check-in

Taking time to get everything together to provide a comprehensive onboarding while doing it remotely is key to get new recruits to full speed and feeling part of the company on day one. 

Remote managers that try and do light onboardings and leave new hires to figure things out will soon realize that they will take longer to deliver results; they will not feel part of the company, and their isolation might result in double-work as they won’t understand what’s expected from them. 


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