How to hire a virtual assistant the smart way

by Productivity

How to hire a virtual assistant the smart way.

Are you ready to hire a virtual assistant but aren't sure how?
Are you so overwhelmed you're willing to hire any warm body that responds to your job post?

Check out these steps to ensure the right fit.

One of the services I offer for my clients is helping them find a Virtual Assistant (VA). I begin with an interview process to see what their needs are and the type of VA that would be appropriate. Then we look at all the tasks that could be delegated and if one VA would fit that description. Here is a case study of one client that I recently found a VA for.

S.S. had created a job description for two positions, a General VA and a Marketing Coordinator. She assumed she needed to hire two, but after I looked at them, informed her that a good General VA would be able to perform both roles and the title of Marketing Coordinator wasn't really appropriate. S.S. had specific systems and tools that she needed them to have experience in – WordPress, Mailchimp, and specific tasks that they already needed to be familiar with, i.e. posting to various social media platforms and working within a CRM.

Because I knew S.S., her style and behavior, I didn't even propose the option of an international VA, like I have, because she is more hands on and likes continued communication and feedback. She prefers to text and email, whereas I prefer to communicate with my VA through a project management system and give her the tasks and wake up with them done. I also needed the VA to be very tech-savvy for her, so that when things go wrong, she isn't wasting time trying to fix them.

Agency vs Care.com

Given this difference, I interviewed three VA agencies but also advertised on Care.com, which I like because you can do background checks. Care.com also allows you to go outside the boundaries of a standard VA service and get someone to fulfill all needs, rather than only the services they offer. My client needed someone to work on the backend of her website, but also help her pack boxes before a business trip.

I posted a job description and within a week got well over 16 responses, 8 candidates good enough to interview and went forward with interviewing.

“Marcey has transformed my “hiring a warm body” into a systematic and targeted recruiting and interview process that has generated 4 strong candidates in a matter of a week.” S.S.

Interview Process

I did all interviews via Zoom video conference to ensure they were tech savvy enough to start the program, were presentable, and could speak well. Video interviews also take away the awkwardness of the pause on the telephone when someone is thinking of an answer. I recorded the interviews so S.S. could watch them later if I felt they should move forward. I also made notes in a spreadsheet so she could look at a quick glance.

Then, I categorized the candidates on skill and fit by highlighting the ones she should definitely interview in green and the ones that would work if the tasks were split in yellow. Based on the range of rate per hour, she could split the web and MailChimp piece and give to a more skilled person at a higher rate, while paying someone to do the other admin skills at a lower rate. This was an option as a cost-savings but would require more time for her to split tasks and manage two people.

If the candidates were green or yellow, I did background checks and tried to find them on social media to see if anything was embarrassing to my client. Candidates I didn't highlight weren't presented, so she didn't have to waste her time.

I met with S.S. after the process was over and gave objective feedback and rated them myself. S.S. did the second round of interviews, and then we met again to review.

When you hire a VA, they are not there to build your business. They are there to work in your business so that you can work on your business.

Bottom Line

Hiring a VA should be a thought-provoking, deeply committed process. If you are so busy you don't have the brain space to put forward, you may end up hiring someone that isn't a good fit, isn't tech-savvy enough, or don't have time to train. It's worth it for you, in the long run, to take the time and move forward in a way that will help you grow your business, not just remove a headache in the immediate future by dumping tasks on them.

Or, hire me or a similar service that can help you figure out what you need, interview for you and then help you determine how to onboard them into your life.

 

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jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects