Best practice remote hiring process

  • 6Minutes

If you’re like so many of us founders and leaders, getting a job description together and posting it is usually something that’s sat on your to do list for way too long and finally posting the job live is a mean feat to be celebrated.


Before you’ve even had a chance to high five your partner, you see the next problem.

1,000 applicants coming in hot. Your inbox is flooded, the super eager ones are hitting up all your social media inboxes and someone even found your phone number and has left you a voice note.

For real, in many cases, the problem isn’t getting applicants for an opening… it’s what to do with them all, and how to handle the recruitment process in a way that’s both manageable and effective in finding the most aligned team member for the opening.

Without a tight process, we’re likely to become overwhelmed and without responding in a timely manner the best candidates will have potentially moved on once you’ve identified them.

With almost ten years experience in remote, culture-first hiring, we have established a simple best practice remote hiring process for landing your next dream team member (and for the record built this into our Application Board).

Here’s our best practice hiring process for building culture-first teams…

  1. Include pre-screen questions as a part of the application process.
  2. Use video for short answers to a second set of questions.
  3. Review portfolio and past references.
  4. Schedule and hold online interviews
  5. Optional second interview or team interview.
  6. Complete any final references or background checks necessary.
  7. Negotiations (if required), offer and placement.

Include pre-screen questions as a part of the application process.
Requiring candidates to answer some pre-screen questions (three to five thoughtful questions is plenty) as a part of their application process is going to do two things. It’ll reduce your number of applicants and, while this may seem counter-intuitive, it’ll attract more of the right type of candidates. Those who are engaged and willing to put in a little extra effort to apply for the role. This extra effort on their behalf, tends to mean they’ll take the time to feel into whether this really is a role they deeply desire at a company whose mission they care about. Ultimately, this is what matters when it comes to culture-first hiring, it’s not about getting a ‘job’ or filling a position, it’s about finding the most aligned match so that both the professional and the company thrive together.

In terms of what to ask, here are our top 5 pre-screen questions for culture-first hiring.

Use video for short answers to a second set of questions.

Before spending time booking interviews (you’re not there yet!) narrow down the applicants who are the best fit so far based on their skills, experience and pre-screen questions. Have these candidates complete a second set of questions via video (again we recommend three to five thoughtful questions, and limit responses to two minutes per question to avoid the review process taking too long).

Besides reviewing someone’s resume / CV (or Growmotely profile if you’re using our platform), you’ve now had the chance to interact with, and get to know them via brief messages (on Growmotely) or email (if you’re manually managing this process), formal written responses to questions, and short snippets of video. This diversity of interactions helps the ‘getting to know each other’ process enormously.

If you’re looking to more deeply dive into what questions to ask, why, and at what stage… we highly recommend the book ‘Who – The A Method for Hiring’.

Review portfolio and past references.

Now’s a good time, if you haven’t already, to check out a candidate’s relevant portfolio or past work (where applicable, e.g. a design role) and review their online references (either in Growmotely, or on their LinkedIn profile). If a candidate has reached this stage and is ticking all the boxes for you it’s worthwhile investing in an online interview.

Schedule and hold online interviews. 

Ideally, you’ll have identified a number of candidates throughout the remote hiring process who’ve all progressed to this stage and can schedule all your interviews close together. This will help you to compare candidates while it’s fresh (and streamline your process of course). Create an agenda, and set of questions you’d like to ask candidates, and run the same process for each interview. It’s also important to remember this is a two-way street, your applicants are at the same time assessing whether this is the company they want to team up with! Preparing some information on the company and culture and ensuring there’s space in the interview for your candidates to ask questions about the company and the role is very important.

If you’re not using a platform like Growmotely, where you know the applicant’s desired salary, it’s a good idea to discuss salary expectations during this interview to ensure there’s enough alignment between the company’s budget for the role and the candidate’s rate (especially when hiring globally).

Optional second interview or team interview.

In the case of someone who’ll be joining a bigger team, a second interview where both the candidate and their potential future team mates can come together, ask questions and get to know each other can be very meaningful and important. Team cohesion is critical for success and ensuring everyone feels good about working together is an important part of creating a thriving team.

Complete any final references or background checks necessary.

At this point, you’ve probably narrowed down your final candidate. Before formally making an offer, conducting deeper reference interviews is worthwhile, along with any background checks that might be appropriate depending on the role. A few (not an extensive list) handy questions to ask references:

  1. In what context did you work together?
  2. What are the candidate’s biggest strengths?
  3. What would you say are (were) their most important areas for improvement?
  4. If you could hire this candidate again, would you?
  5. Why did this person leave your company?

Negotiations (if required), offer and placement.

Before officially making an offer (and especially if you’re needing to have employment agreements drawn up), it’s a good idea to ensure you’re both on the same page about all aspects of compensation, the role requirements and KPIs, along with any benefits or leave entitlements. Once you’re good to go, make the offer and welcome your new dream team member!

If you’re using Growmotely, all contracts are taken care of and making a hire is as simple as setting the start date and clicking ‘SEND OFFER’.

Happy culture-first hiring friends! And of course, if this has overwhelmed you more than helped (or you’re just plain busy) you can always have one of our Recruitment Specialists handle the entire process for you.

Written by: Sarah Hawley (Growmotely’s Founder and CEO)

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