When you have a small business, sometimes it is necessary to get additional help with certain projects but don't want to add on the commitment of hiring new employees. Hiring remote workers to handle certain parts of you business can be a great solution. Now that almost everyone has a high performance computer and broadband internet, it is easier than ever to hire freelance employees. There are many people, in almost every field who either prefer a work-from-home position or are doing consulting work to generate income while they are looking for a job.
You should keep in mind though, that carefully screening your freelancer employees is almost more important than interviewing and selecting the best applicants for your traditional job openings. Since they aren't under your direct visual supervision in the office, if you don't do some research, you could end up hiring someone who can't perform the results you need and the delays that their lack of professionalism causes could cost you valuable time and it may even cause you to miss deadlines and lose business if you can't deliver the results.
Here are some red flags you should look out for when you are interviewing remote employees and freelancers. If you start noticing any of these things, you may want to consider that you are looking at the wrong person to get the job done:
- Doesn't communicate well – Even if you aren't hiring them to do anything that requires a high degree of intelligence, you want to be sure that they are able to understand complex business concepts. There may be other issues you need to communicate with them about, such as payment schedules, invoicing and understanding your needs and your end goals for the project. Take a look at the emails they have sent and look for things like careless spelling errors, chat lingo and the time it takes to get a reply. These are huge clues about how serious they are about their work. Also, be sure that you arrange a time to video chat with them so that you can see and hear them and get a better idea of their communication style. If you aren't able to be easily understood by your telecommuter, it will probably become a huge problem down the line.
- They don't have verifiable references – Just because they aren't an actual company employee, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't ask them for their work experience and a few professional references. If they can't show you anything and can't give you references to other clients of theirs, then you need to really do a little bit more homework. Check them out and don't be afraid to Google search them and read client reviews about them. Any professional freelancer would be more than happy to provide you with a portfolio of their work and qualifications along with a list of references from clients. Be sure to check these out thoroughly as well, even if you really like the candidate.
- It takes a long time for them to respond to emails and phone calls – When someone is trying to get a new job or attempting to sell themselves to a new client, this is the time when they are on their very best behavior, because they want you to impressed with their abilities. It is like a new romantic relationship, you don't wear dirty socks on a first date; it is just human nature to go out of your way in order to make a good impression. Knowing this, it is safe to assume that however they are behaving right now is as good as it is ever going to get. If they seem hard to pin down, it is probably because they are.
- Not showing respect for their current customers or their current contracts – Ask them about their previous and current customer and contracts. If you ask leading questions and just let them talk, they will probably tell you a lot about their work quality and how they treat their customers. If they bad mouth or imply that current customers aren't important, know that they will most likely treat you and your business this way if you made the mistake of becoming their client. A professional freelancer should always talk about their clients with respect and a genuine sense of professionalism, even if their didn't have a great experience with them. You want to pick a freelancer that is professional and has tact when talking about previous contracts.
- They aren't interested in your goals and needs – When you talk with them about the job you have available, pay attention to what sort of question they ask. You really want to hire someone that will sit down and listen to what your needs are and what you are trying to accomplish. They will ask you questions about your goals for the project and try to determine what your expectations are. If they don't ask, then it probably means that they don't care about either one. Even if they look really good on paper and you don't want to pass on someone who is talented, you will get better results overall with someone who isn't as talented, but who is willing to listen and ask questions to determine exactly what you need.
Hiring freelance employees, remote workers or even telecommuters can really be a great way to adjust to increased demand and a temporary increase in your business's work load without having to make the commitment and investment in recruiting and training a new employee. This is especially true when you need the help of someone who has a specific, advanced skill-set; for example, if you needed to overhaul your website and you want to make it look professional, you might need to hire a freelance graphic and web designer.
Typically, these arrangements are beneficial to both the small businesses and the skilled professionals who want a work-from-home opportunity and they happen every day, much to the satisfaction of both parties. The key is to do your homework when screening candidates and trust the voice in the back of you head if you have any doubts about their ability to communicate with you and deliver quality results.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for BusinessWorkForceBlog, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.