When small business owners need to grow their team, the most cost effective way to do this is to hire virtual assistants. However, it is important to hire the right person and train them accordingly. Otherwise you will waste time and money.
Finding the best virtual assistant may be a process of trial and error. I’ve noticed that the virtual world sometimes creates a casual environment. We chat about a job on a message board or ask for a recommendation on Facebook. We no longer ask for applications in a formal way; often we look at a profile or website instead, then make a decision after a 5 minute chat.
Obviously, there will be no in-person interview, but that does not mean we should be cavalier. If you want to hire the best virtual assistant for your business, you need to know what you want and you need to take the time to be a little more thorough in your hiring process.
Put the virtual assistant at ease by asking them about themselves.
Provide background information on yourself and your business. Tell the virtual assistant about your goals and how you want them to help you achieve these goals.
Encourage the Virtual Assistant to ask questions?
Now is the time to ask some open ended questions about the work you wish the virtual assistant to accomplish for you. Avoid telegraphing your desired response. Follow through on the answers – when that happened….
You can now ask about their specific skills and communication styles
It’s a serious business and should be taken seriously. Afterall, the virtual assistant will have access to your business IP and everything that goes with that these days.
No matter how skilled a virtual assistant may seem, I advise you to do at least one phone interview. Preferably a video call interview if you can’t meet in person. You’ll get a much better sense of their personality and how well they listen and communicate. I’d take an opportunity to ask a few key questions about their area of specialty – internet marketing, web design or maintenance, admin tasks or whatever applies – to ensure they are as knowledgeable as their website or profile seems to imply.
Download our structured interview checklist to help you with this process below.
There are many parts to a virtual assistant. It is not just the skills that you need to assess, you also need to assess their personality and attributes. What are their values for instance, do they match yours?
Communication is another big issue. How do they prefer to communicate with you and does that match your preference?
Availability – what happens when you have an urgency, how do you contact them?
We tend to get impatient in our rush to hire someone and get started. Even if you think you’ve found a good contender, interview one other person so that you can compare their skills and their answers.
Make sure you protect yourself a little by asking to speak with a previous or existing client. If they provide quality services, they should have no problem providing that information. If they refuse, count that as a big red flag and move on to the next person. You should also make an attempt to look for reviews. Do the virtual assistants have a website, for instance, look for some testimonials from clients that indicate they’ve had some success. Alternatively, if a freelancer on a job website, check out their feedback score to see how they have performed in the past. At the very least, try to get multiple testimonials, rather than just one. Remember that a new virtual assistant with no existing clients, will not have any reviews or testimonials so ask for a personal reference or a reference from a past employer.
Ensure you will be on the same page before you get started. Ask about their prices and policies (by project, by the hour? Do they require you to buy a minimum amount per month, does that roll over if you fail to use all your time in that month?).
Find out how transparent they will be.
Don’t forget to download our structured interview checklist to make your recruitment process quick and easy.
Take the time to talk to virtual assistants who are keen to work with you and really assess whether they are qualified. Also it is worth finding out whether you believe you will enjoy working with them. The best virtual assistant will be a partner in your business, not merely an employee so it is worth investing the time at the recruitment stage to make sure you hire the right virtual assistant.
If you don’t have time to do all of the above, then consider using a recruitment agency who will do the pre-screening before you speak to the virtual assistants. Agencies such as http://www.vaplacements.com have already done most of the work for you. Plus it’s a free service so you have nothing to lose.
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