The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Employment Instability
Running a recruiting firm for the past six years, I’ve come to notice that employees who work virtually are more prone to not working out, whether it be performance-based problems or simply lack of interest in the job. Therefore, I would suggest that any hiring company avoid a resume of a candidate that has a track record of not holding positions for extended periods of time.
2. Bad Communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively is key to projecting your image as a brand. Candidates must have strong written and verbal communication skills in order to properly represent your brand. Poor English, grammar, or simply careless spelling mistakes are a major turnoff. And due to our fast-paced society, they are more prevalent today than ever.
3. What’s in It for Me?
It’s a subtle thing, but when potential team members write a cover letter full of how much your company is perfect f or them, I think it sends the completely wrong message. Instead, it should be all about what they can do for the company. After all, you’re hiring to grow your company, not improve the prospective employee’s cocktail conversations!
4. Ridiculous Availability Requests
When a virtual team member goes beyond communicating availability for a position to dictating the days and times acceptable for meetings, it’s a red flag for me. Online work is more flexible, but you wouldn’t dream of telling a corporate boss, “Tuesday meetings don’t work for me, I want Saturday meetings instead.” Setting boundaries in a professional manner is a sign of maturity.
5. Awful Email Addresses
I’m an email address snob. I expect anyone applying for work to have a professional-sounding email address (ideally their name) — no ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’s need apply. But if the person wants to work virtually, I also take a look at their email service provider. Something at AOL or Hotmail sends me the message that I’m not dealing with someone particularly web savvy.
6. Lack of Virtual Experience
If they haven’t worked in a virtual environment before, it is a turnoff because it isn’t meant for everybody, and I prefer not to be your first experiment. The one exception is if they have something in their resume where they worked autonomously in a previous venture. It takes an independent spirit and someone who is a self-starter to be a great virtual hire.
7. Where’s the Passion?
If someone isn’t clear on why they want to work for my company specifically and why they’re passionate about what I’m doing, it turns me off. With a small company, every hire is so incredibly important, and you need those people to be completely “bought in” to what you’re doing.
8. Being Unprepared
Asking potential employees what they like most about the company during their interview is a great way to find out how much time they’ve already dedicated to you and the opportunity. Walking into an interview without having done any research means they’re likely to put in the same limited effort while sitting in your office — or that they don’t know how to use Google!
9. Poor Email Response
Before I schedule an interview with a potential virtual team member, I test their email communication abilities. If that potential team member cannot properly send me a calendar invite or does not answer questions via email in a concise and organized way, then I will not proceed and schedule the interview.
10. No Attention to Detail
We weed out tons of applicants who don’t pay attention to the details. Our employment ads specify that certain details should be included, for example, links to Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. People who neglect to include the information specified are automatically eliminated. The rigor of the process continues as the applicant progresses through subsequent rounds.
11. What an Ego!
To be successful, startups need to find talented individuals with high value to build a team. That being said, you must make sure to focus on team’s chemistry in order to make the team work. If someone has awesome skills and is super talented, but has an abrasive personality, you should pass. I’d rather hire someone who wants to know it all, rather than some who already does.
12. Not Following Directions
I hate it when I give specific instructions about the application process and the applicant does not follow them. It makes me think that I am going to have a hard time training them when the real work begins. Anyone who doesn’t follow the initial directions gets cut immediately from the rest of the application process.