6 qualities every great virtual employee has in common


Hiring a virtual worker isn’t exactly the same as hiring someone who will show up in your office everyday. Top notch virtual employees will need different personality attributes and skill sets in order to thrive and grow within your company.

The virtual workforce is expanding thanks to advances in new technology from cloud computing to video interviewing. Currently, 34-million American employees telecommute at least part time, and this number is expected to grow to encompass 63 million workers by 2016.

You can’t exactly afford to be left behind the curve, especially with studies from Stanford University discovering a company can save as much as $2,000 per employee just by allowing them to work from home. This can mean huge cost savings, especially for cash-strapped startup companies trying to jump the skills gap by widening the candidate talent pool.

Since more companies will be embracing the virtual workforce, it’s time to drill down into the qualities of the best virtual candidates. Here are six qualities all virtual employees should possess, as well as interview questions to ask in order to help you discover your next virtual superstar:

1. Self-motivation
Perhaps the most important quality virtual workers need to possess is self-motivation. It can be easy for employees to get distracted and lose motivation when sitting at home and working in sweatpants. You won’t have the same oversight into a virtual employee’s workflow as you would with someone just down the hall, so it’s important that these workers have self-direction.

This is why hiring someone with a well-developed sense of self-motivation is incredibly important for hiring the right virtual candidate. When checking references, don’t be afraid to ask about this aspect of the candidate’s personality. While the interview can give you a personal feel for the candidate, former employers can also provide valuable insight.

Interview question: Tell me about a time you completed a project solo and what steps you used to get the job done.

2. Great communication skills
You might think communication skills aren’t as important for a virtual worker since they won’t be able to make the weekly meeting, but well-developed communication skills are actually a necessity for virtual talent. You need employees who will be able to clearly and consistently communicate with you and your team, so collaboration is seamless and you always stay updated on progress.

Interview question: What would you say to an angry team member or customer to defuse a volatile situation?

3. Tech-savvy
It would certainly be hard to work remotely if your virtual employee was technology illiterate. This is where the recruitment tools you use to find great virtual candidates can come into play to help you establish tech-savvy credentials.

Look for smart virtual candidates using social media to promote their candidacy or share thought leadership. Connect with candidates using social networks and video interviews, to establish they can handle social and collaborative tech tools.

Interview question: Please describe your experience using [insert your specific software and technology here]. Describe any additional technology you have experience with.

4. Good time management skills
In the office, you can restrict Internet access, watch what employees are doing the next cubicle over, and have weekly progress meetings. While your virtual employee is at home, however, you don’t know if they’re working on a big project or watching the Real Housewives.

This is why you need to find candidates with top-notch time management skills, able to juggle and prioritize tasks accordingly. You need to trust virtual workers to be the stewards of their own time, and to manage this time carefully in order to get tasks accomplished.

Interview question: If you had to complete this hypothetical project, how would you go about it? Give me a step-by-step rundown of how you would tackle the project.

5. Ability to collaborate
You might think virtual workers are lone wolves by nature, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because of the sometimes isolating nature of virtual work, it’s more important than ever to find candidates who can collaborate and work as a fully-functional member of your team.

With Gallup discovering 70% of the American workforce is disengaged on the job, it’s important your virtual workers feel like valued members of the company culture, know why their contributions matter, and work closely with co-workers to accomplish important company goals.

Interview question: Explain a time you had to collaborate with a team. What was your role? How did you work as a member of the team? What did you learn and what would you do differently?

6. Adaptable
Adaptability is an attribute of any good employee, but it’s especially necessary for a virtual worker. You won’t be there to hold your employee’s hand and ensure they’re able to roll with the punches if your company has to pivot or the job description needs to be tweaked.

You need people who can roll up their sleeves and get work done without much oversight. The best virtual workers won’t just be flexible with their time, they’ll also be adaptable to changing roles and processes within your company.

Interview question: Tell me about a situation in which you had to quickly adjust to a change in your position or company. How did you adapt? What were the challenges?

Hiring the best virtual workers isn’t easy and it requires you understand the difference between a remote superstar and in-office talent. If you know the qualities of the best virtual workers, however, you’ll be able to hire the remote superstar your company needs to grow and thrive.

What are the qualities of the best virtual workers? What did we miss? Share in the comments!



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