How to find and hire a talented remote manager

If you’re thinking of hiring a manager, it’s likely your company has entered a new phase. The decision may have been set into motion by a surge in business growth and the need for someone who can handle operations and mentoring in your place; there could have been an increase in pending decisions and employees reporting directly to you, stretching your days longer and longer.

These signs can crop up in both onsite and remote businesses. The difference lies in the hiring process and the managerial qualities you need to look for. As many experts on the subject will tell you: working remotely is not for everyone. And although home-based workers already have a distinct set of characteristics (a bias towards action being the most important), remote managers will have another layer of qualifications.

The good news is, hiring for remote jobs gives you access to a massive talent pool. This article will help you narrow down your choices and guide you towards hiring a good fit for your remote team.

Qualities of a remote manager

Supporting a distributed team of people requires an alternative approach. Although the job description for a remote manager is generally the same as traditional ones, you’re looking for someone with a set of skills fine-tuned for cross-border work.

  1. Previous experience working remotely

    Leadership experience and an affinity with your business should come hand in hand with an intimate knowledge of a home-based employee’s needs. Whether they’ve been a remote manager or have been in a remote environment for a few years, your candidate should know what effective long-distance communication looks like and have a strong grasp of maintaining cross-border working relationships.

  2. Expertise on managing long-distance relationships
    This experience and know-how is crucial in situations where context is missing—an unavoidable scenario in remote workplaces. It’s the manager’s job to bridge that gap with effective over-communication and clear-eyed performance measurement. Naturally, this means your candidate should be versed in both communication and productivity apps like Slack, Trello, and Asana.

  3. Strategic mindset
    Remember that direct reports rely heavily on the manager to set performance benchmarks or to step in when support is needed. This feat only possible if the remote manager has a solid understanding of the company’s vision and goals, and can connect it strategically with an individual employee’s tasks—all without physical presence. Knowledge-sharing and performance-tracking play key roles in keeping the team connected and motivated, especially in a remote team.

How to hire a remote manager

Hiring remotely means providing and acquiring context as early in the process as possible. You can learn if a candidate has the aforementioned qualities by following these steps:

  1. Set up your company’s culture page
    The first thing to prepare when hiring remote workers is your company’s culture page. Providing job seekers a picture of what your company prioritises would help them envision what it’s like working with you. Ideally, the remote manager job description on your page is as specific and realistic as possible. Zapier—one of the most successful remote companies in the world—suggests going into detail about the managerial role and how it can contribute to the company’s success.


  2. Maximise your hiring page
    Zapier also invites applicants to prove their suitability for the job by filling in a form right on their hiring page. For a remote managerial role, you might want to quiz applicants on job-specific management challenges like their strategy for meeting business goals or the course of action they would take for situations where there’s conflict.

    Doing this also lets you gauge a candidate’s writing ability—an important skill to have in an environment where the main form of communication is often through Slack. Assess the candidate’s choice of words and see if it aligns with how you want a manager to communicate with your team.


  3. Research your candidate
    After you’ve had a video call with you candidate, it’s time to do research. Aside from getting in touch with their references, some recruiters even check their candidate’s social media accounts. According to Buffer’s hiring process, they check to see if the posts feel in line with the company culture and to spot for red flags.

  4. Ask for a paid trial

    Lastly, when you’ve narrowed your list down to a top candidate, you may also want to suggest a paid trial period. This test lets you and your candidate experience first-hand how a normal week would play out and if your work style is a good match with each other. The fewer surprises there are once you’ve hired someone, the better. Booking a candidate for a paid trial period may even provide the peace of mind you want after signing someone for a leadership role.

    Hiring a great remote manager can mean exponential benefits for any company, but it’s not an easy task. That’s normal. Some of the most experienced companies in the world are still finding their way through remote team management and learning on the fly. Once you’ve hired a remote manager, make sure to gather feedback from their team members on what works and what doesn’t. The purpose isn’t to call anyone out for poor performance, but to offer actionable upskill advice.

    If you’re in the process of building a remote team, Ribit connects top talent to innovative companies. Click here to post a job opening for free.