If you’re looking to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA), in many respects, your initial discussions to identify the VA that’s right for you will be similar to interviewing for an employee. But, of course, you’re going to want to ask questions specific to your role.
In this article, we highlight what we have found to be some important questions to ask when hiring a Virtual Assistant, to ensure they are right for you and your business.
But first, as with any meeting, it’s important to structure your conversations with your short-listed Virtual Assistants in the right way.
Structuring Your Meeting
When it comes to preparing for your initial meeting (usually over Zoom, Teams etc.) with a potential VA, and whilst acknowledging this is not a job interview, the following suggested structure, from Indeed, may be helpful. This covers the key parts of a typical job interview, which can be equally valid when meeting your short-listed VAs for the first time:
- A brief welcome and icebreaker, so that everyone is comfortable and ready to begin.
- An introduction to your company: Explain what your company does, who you are and your role within the company.
- An outline of the job role: Describe the day-to-day responsibilities and what you’re looking for in a successful candidate.
- A variety of interview questions.
- An opportunity for the interviewee to ask questions.
With a structure for the initial meeting in place, let’s look more specifically at how to go about selecting a Virtual Assistant to hire.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant
The key thing is to really understand why you want to hire a VA. Without taking the time to think this through, you could end up hiring a Virtual Assistant unnecessarily, or hire the wrong person for the job. Needless to say, that just wastes your time, your VAs time, and a lot of your money.
Here are a few points to bear in mind:
- Identify the biggest pain points in your business.
- Identify the ‘end result’ you want from hiring a Virtual Assistant.
- Do you want a VA to simply complete basic tasks (task orientated), or to be a more integral part of your business (outcome oriented)?
- What are your long-term objectives for hiring a Virtual Assistant?
We cover these points in more detail in our blog ‘Do You Really Know Why You’re Hiring a Virtual Assistant?’
Understanding this helps clarify in your mind the questions you need to ask a Virtual Assistant.
This also helps the VAs you’re talking to. If they can see the logic to your questioning, rather than just answering random questions, they can answer them in a way that that is going to be more helpful and informative to you.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Going through the process of understanding why you want to hire a Virtual Assistant will help you work out the skills and experience you are looking for.
However, reading about skills and experience in a CV is one thing. Asking deeper questions identifies if a Virtual Assistant can provide the service and support you’re looking for.
When you’ve set up the meetings with your shortlist, what questions will you ask them?
You’ll obviously discuss their skills, expertise, and experience. And asking open questions will encourage them to talk about their experience, and where they got it from.
But what other questions could you ask to identify the Virtual Assistant who is absolutely right for your business?
Here are a few perhaps ‘not-so-common’ questions that will help identify their suitability.
Ask about their availability
- Do they have a maximum number of hours they want to work each week?
- Are there certain times they can’t work?
- Maybe they have family reasons where they have to drop children off at school in the morning and collect them in the afternoon.
- In other words, does their availability match your needs?
How many clients do they have?
- If they have many clients, do you feel they are overstretching themselves?
- How do they balance their time between clients?
- The question you want answered is, if they are overstretching themselves, how will that affect the service they can provide you?
What do their clients do?
- Asking what their existing clients do may reveal experience that could be helpful in your business.
- It may also spark an idea that you hadn’t thought about.
Are they familiar with any essential software you use in your business?
- If not, are they willing to take the initiative and learn?
- And can you provide some training, or point them in the right direction?
How have they dealt with issues relating to their required tasks?
- Do they ask questions?
- Do they try to work things out for themselves?
- Do they procrastinate or try and ignore the issue?
- You’re looking to see if they take responsibility and are proactive, but not afraid to ask questions when necessary.
What would they do if asked to do something they’ve not done before?
- Are they prepared to embrace new ideas?
- This may be more important if you’re a fast-growing company.
Of course, you may have plenty of other questions to ask, but these will encourage them to talk in more detail about their experience and current situation.
And a final thought…
As well as getting to know them professionally, take some time to get to know a little about them outside of work, their family, and interests. You’re going to be working with them on a 1:1 basis, and so it’s important to know you can get along together and build a strong working relationship.