Successfully recruiting and hiring for remote positions


As a remote company, you're accessing a talent pool that's a few magnitudes larger than the one of co-located companies. Not only that, but you're also bringing opportunities to regions where not a lot of other opportunities are available. If you're offering generous benefits and an competitive salary, brace yourself for a lot of applications.

That's generally a good problem to have, but don't underestimate the time cost of processing hundreds and thousands of applications for each position.


Sourcing remote talent fairly

Before we're worrying about managing the incoming flood of applications, let's worry about opening the floodgates in the first place. In most of my career, we had to deal with talent shortage. Either we didn't have enough local talent or it was really difficult to convince them to join a company I was part of.

It's quite safe to say that that's a thing of the past for remote teams, but there are now challenges – things like removing bias from your hiring processes or removing any chance of the often-quoted "pipeline problems" that plagues a lot of other businesses.


Where and how to post job adverts

Job boards like and are great for giving you high visibility on your job adverts, but they will also carry weight and noise. If you decide to spend the cash and post on one of these sides, be prepared to go through hundreds, if not thousands of CVs.

A much saner approach is to work through professional networks and communities. AngelList tends to bring good candidates to startups, Linkedin and Github are great for searching potential candidates, and communities like Dribble and similar are great to get honest recommendations.


Referral-based recruting: Skip the vacancy entirely

Possibly the best way to hire, if your candidate pool is almost infinite, is through recommendations. These might either come from your existing team, or from targeted and small communities. Both are great options!

When asking your existing team, keep in mind that you will somewhat bias and possibly un-diversify your team. Your candidates will likely come from similar regions, have gone to similar universities or worked at similar companies. It's good to get an outside view, so don't solely rely on recommendations.

Community-based outreach may be a great option. It helps you bring opportunities to people who might go under in a huge candidate pool, or might simply lack the confidence and/or time to apply through that way. Also keep in mind that you can't solely rely on a single community. Diversify and give back!


Working through the sea of applications

The next step is to boil down hundreds of applications, that would take hours to go through, into a smaller chunk of maybe a hundred or a few dozen applications you can give the appropriate time they need. To do that, you need to filter and follow a "not hell yeah means no" rule to rejecting applications.


First-level hiring: Cold-hearted filtering

Let's assume you have over 500 CVs in the pipeline for one single position, like it is sometimes the case with global positions. You likely won't have the capacity to interview every single one, maybe not even to look at them all. Here comes what's called "first-level hiring": rejecting quickly and moving on.

The good thing – however you may see it – is that it's often quite easy to reject a large part of applications. Define a few qualification criteria and dismiss applications that don't have them. Depending on position, those criteria could be:

  • complete cover letter
  • more than x years of experience
  • prior experience working remotely
  • work samples submitted
  • quick glance over CV for completeness
  • certain location / jurisdiction requirements

Boil your choice down to a set of candidates which would be suitable to interview in an initial chat. You don't need to be too harsh here, but also be somewhat cold-hearted when it comes to filtering unsuitable candidates out, instead of using their time and invite them to an interview with slim chances of success. Then, proceed with your interview process with these people.


Designing a cost-effective pipeline

Recently, my friend got interviewed for a full-time engineering position. After an initial welcoming screen, he was invited for three consecutive 1-hour tech screens, followed by a take-home assignment and a full day of pre-boarding in a different state, flight and hotel was covered. At last, there was a culture assignment with HR which he failed for mysterious reasons and he was out.

It's probably the most cost-ineffective hiring pipeline I've seen, but many hiring pipelines are designed to prioritize confidence over effectiveness. The result of that are often wasted hours for everyone.

For reference, if we calculate the costs of hiring process described, you're going to spend at least $3,000 per candidate that you invite to the whole tour and throw out at the offer or culture stage, doesn't that seem a little expensive?

Instead, disqualify candidates early and often. Prioritize less but more in-depth hiring rounds to build confidence while also keeping scheduling overhead down.


How to evaluate your remote recruiting

Recruiting pipelines are never set in stone and over time, with interviewers often hearing similar stories and running through the same scenarios, are getting less effective as well.

But, how do you realize it's time to change? After all, the process or working out a new recruiting pipeline is a cost in itself:

  • you are struggling to find fitting candidates
  • too many candidates make it to the offer stage
  • interviewers are struggling to pick favourites
  • it has been a year since the last evaluation

An up-to-date hiring plan is important to bring relevant skills to your team, take a look back and iron out issues in the existing process and bring in updated requirements based on recent developments within your team.

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