Tips for Hiring Designers for Remote Teams

Creating a great design team and designing great products means hiring great designers. Automattic has been hiring people around the world to work remotely for over 10 years. More recently, we’ve been scaling up and refining how we hire designers. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Take advantage of limitless geographics.

One of the greatest advantages of remote working is being able to hire outside the standard commuting radius. This opens up the talent pool, particularly in international markets and areas away from the big hub cities.

At Automattic, we have over 650 people in 60+ countries. We also build software for people from all over the world. This gives us a unique advantage: We get to include different perspectives from all over the world and work with great people beyond the standard Silicon Valley geography.

Actively reach out beyond the obvious places to promote and recruit. You’ll find some incredible talent out there.

Incorporate different modes of communication into the hiring process (including async).

Look for designers who are strong and effective communicators across a variety of channels — from short form writing (Slack) to long form async. When in doubt, look for those who bias towards over-communication.

More generally, design your hiring process to mirror how you work remotely. We interview our candidates through a text chat in Slack so we can get a feel for their written voice. We also try to incorporate many of our other communication tools into the hiring process.

Seek out the experimental mindset.

While remote work experience can definitely be a bonus, it’s not a requirement. For many of the designers we hire, their first time working remotely is here at Automattic.

We’re constantly evolving the way we work to design and build products remotely. We have people around the world with flexible schedules and no set business hours. We have a lot of autonomy to figure out how to best do the work. It’s up to each person to always be looking for ways to improve.

Look for people who exhibit this experimental mindset outright. Bonus points if they openly reflect on the remote environment during the process.

Remember that the hiring process (remote or not) is just a design problem. Think about the constraints. Think about the opportunities those constraints create. And apply that same experimental mindset you’re looking for in your applicants.

Sound interesting? We’re hiring!

Photo Credit: Stephen Lustig