If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hiring a virtual assistant, or VA, can be a big help. You’ll finally be able hand off some of your most pesky spreadsheets and cut down on the flood of emails in your inbox. However, just as important as deciding whether to hire a VA is choosing the right VA.
Think about your needs
You may dread the prospect of long interviews. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. These six questions will help you quickly determine the reliability and competence of a VA, as well as whether they’re suited to the project you’re posting. As the potential VA answers, be constantly thinking about your needs and the needs of your company. How well does the potential candidate match up?
1. Ask VA candidates to rate their skill sets
This is one of the best ways to determine their experience at a given task. For example, if you need help with spreadsheets, ask them to rate their Excel skills on a scale from 1-10, and then to explain and justify the score they gave themselves. You will have an easier time determining their skill level as they use specific information to justify their score to you.
2. Ask them if they can work the hours you need
Many candidates may think there’s some wiggle room here if you don’t ask about it directly and specifically. Give them the exact hours you need, and then ask them if they can realistically stick to that. As a follow-up, ask about other clients they might have. What are their time commitments to them? How much work do they do for them each week? Without prying too much into their personal life, you want as complete a picture as you can get of their work times.
“How does each week and day look for you, currently?”
“Can you work for three hours every morning, from 9-12?”
“What are your other time commitments?”
3. Ask them about qualities you value
Think about the kind of character and personality you would like a VA to have. Are you looking for someone efficient and dedicated? Warm and friendly? Ask candidates if they have the qualities you value in a worker straight up. To make sure they are not simply saying yes to every question, throw in a question about a quality you aren’t looking for as well.
“Do you consider yourself to be honest?”
“Do you consider yourself to be detail-oriented?”
“Are you available to work weekends if needed?”
4. Ask them about your pet peeves
A virtual assistant is someone you’ll work closely with on a regular basis. So if they frequently engage in all of your least-favorite business habits, it’s good to know up front. Try not to sound accusatory or combative as you ask this question, just say, “How do you feel about [x]?” and then go from there.
“How do you respond to getting late night emails?”
“How do you feel about extending deadlines?”
“How does a sudden change in your working hours come across to you?”
5. Ask them about their internet connection and other hardware
This is an often overlooked question, but it is essential. Asking about their connectivity not only gives you a clear picture of where they are at, it also sets expectations for the future. Be thorough and specific as you quiz them.
“What kind of internet do you use?”
“What kind of computer do you use?”
“Do you have frequent power outages in your area?”
“”What backup options do you have in place, in case of a connection loss?””
6. Ask them what communication they’re comfortable with
If you like to send hourly emails, and a VA checks their inbox only once a day, that’s something you need to know. Review each type of communication you’ll use with the VA — Skype, text, phone calls, video chats — and make sure they are comfortable communicating the way you do.
A final note:
Beyond the direct responses that candidates give, pay attention to how they respond. What is their general attitude towards work? How professional are they? Do you get along with them?
When you’re looking for that perfect match, you should never feel like you have to settle. Choose hires with long-term goals for your company in mind, even if the position you are hiring for isn’t necessarily a long-term one. You want to find someone who is committed, competent, and reliable, and these questions will help you do just that.
Emily Bell has worked in digital marketing for seven years, tackling projects for a wide variety of tech and PR companies, as well as a few of Amazon’s top third-party sellers. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Influencive, Addicted2Success, Forbes, and around the web.