remote recruitment via video call

The Essential Guide to Remote Recruiting

Your boss wants to know how the recruiting process is going.

“I’m working on it,” you answer, even though the only thing you’ve actually done is copy and paste an old job description into a Google Doc.

Hey, we get it. Remote hiring can feel overwhelming. Spending hours browsing profiles on Upwork or going through hundreds of applications isn’t fun.

But trust us, remote recruiting doesn’t have to be painful or take up all of your time. In this guide, we’ll break down how to source, screen, select, and hire online so you can find the perfect remote candidate for your team.

Steps to remote recruiting

1. Understand the job before advertising it

New hires tend to leave when their expectations for the job don’t line up with reality. This could happen if the employer doesn’t accurately describe the job responsibilities when attracting job candidates.

To prevent this, you can do as Basecamp co-founder Jason Fried described in a Reddit AMA and actually do the work before advertising the position so you understand exactly what it entails.

If that’s not possible, try Zapier’s approach instead. In their guide to remote work, they describe how recruiters have kickoff meetings with hiring managers before opening up a hiring process. These meetings help recruiters get the full details of the position—what a typical day on the job looks like, who the new hire will interact with, and what contributions are expected from them.

2. Write a detailed and inspiring job listing

Once you understand the details of the position, you’ll be ready to create a listing that describes real job needs.

Set clear expectations for what the work will be like. Use simple, clear, and concrete language to describe the challenges and opportunities involved. You may get fewer candidates as result, but quality—not quantity—is what you should be aiming for.

In addition to talking about the position, make a point of talking about your company culture and values. This is especially important when your company is fully remote since applying online for a company takes a leap of faith.

3. Source candidates outside of job boards

Job boards tend to attract candidates who are looking for any remote job. That doesn’t mean you can’t find exceptional talent on job boards or platforms such as Upwork, but it can be a little harder. Consider alternatives. 

In their guide to remote work, Zapier reports having sourced several team members from tech-related meetup groups.

Here at Smile, we often tap into online communities such as Support Driven to find quality candidates.

Referrals are another way to source quality candidates. Ask your teammates for help spreading the word about job opportunities. Adding a link to your hiring page within your team’s email signatures is another great way to get the word out. 

Finally, there’s social media. Toggl had good results creating ads on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook targeting job candidates in Europe.

For more ideas, check out our 11 Recruitment Sourcing Strategies to Find Top Talent and our 11 Recruitment Ideas That’ll Fill Your Open Positions.

4. Evaluate skills, not resumes

Remote-first companies like Zapier and Toggl don’t ask for resumes or cover letters. Instead, they start assessing candidates’ skills at the application stage of the recruitment life cycle.

Zapier’s application form has questions that only candidates with a good understanding of Zapier integrations can answer. Toggl’s application process starts with a skills test.

In their blog, Toggl describes how hiring based on resumes and interviews failed them. After they stopped asking for CVs and began testing applicants, their recruitment metrics drastically improved. The results were so impressive that they turned their skills tests into a product.

“In traditional hiring, you won’t really know the candidate’s real skills until it’s too late. With Toggl Hire [their candidate screening tool], we start the recruiting process by checking the candidates’ skills right away with simple tests.”

Similar to Toggl Hire, Hire Vue’s game-based assessments measure candidates’ cognitive ability through a series of short, engaging tests, as we described in a previous blog post.

5. Use hiring tools

There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re hiring. That’s why most remote-first companies can’t do without recruitment technology to stay organized when hiring. 

For example, Zapier uses TalentWall to keep team members updated and informed about all recruitment processes. Through this hiring management tool, they can collaborate and ensure processes move along smoothly and efficiently.

They also use Greenhouse, a paid applicant tracking system (ATS), to find and track job candidates. There are free ATS options—we list them here.

6. Interview shortlisted candidates on video

Video calls are as effective as real-life interviews and a crucial step in the remote recruiting process. Their main purpose is to assess candidates’ soft skills.

To conduct successful video interviews, design a structured interview process. Define the questions you’ll ask and what constitutes good answers to them. This not only helps you stay organized, but it’s also considered best practice for an inclusive recruitment process.

7. Give the top candidates a project

After doing video interviews, you should know who your top candidates are. Assign the top candidates a project to help you pick the one you’re going to hire. 

The task should reflect what the candidates be doing in their day-to-day. For example, if you’re recruiting a customer support position, you could ask them to answer a few types of customer support emails.

Another idea is to give candidates a task that requires them to interact with one or more teammates. This should show you how they communicate and collaborate.

8. Check references and make an offer

References are especially important when you’re hiring remotely. Ask candidates to share their references during the last stage of the recruitment process.

Companies like Zapier use reference checking software such as SkillSurvey to collect references anonymously and ensure they get the most honest feedback.


Remote recruiting takes as much thought and planning as real-life hiring, but it has several advantages. It costs less. It gives you access to a wider, more diverse talent pool. 

It can be more time-efficient, too. Zapier reports taking 29 days to hire a new employee, which is less than the 36-day average of most companies.

At Smile, we’ve been recruiting remotely for years. Remote recruiting has helped us gain access to top talent we wouldn’t be able to work with otherwise, including professionals from all over the US as well as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and more.

The tips in this guide have worked for us. What’s worked for you? What tips do you have for remote recruiting?