In some ways hiring your first virtual assistant presents more challenges than hiring a regular full-time employee with a physical presence at a brick-and-mortar business. 

For one thing, there is the absence of shared space collaboration. You may find it disconcerting working with someone in the virtual world who resides a few thousand miles from where you conduct work.

A freelance virtual assistant is also contracted, which means tenure is not as firmly entrenched as an office worker covered with a full-time employment contract.

But one thing is for sure, hiring top virtual assistants can take your business to the next level. It is a strategic decision that will allow you to save money, increase productivity, improve quality of work and introduce flexibility in your business.

It may seem tedious, but the effort will be well worth it for all small business owners. 

Here are our top 5 tips to help you hire a virtual assistant:

1 – Identify All The Tasks You Want Outsourced

The high demand for virtual assistance work has opened up new opportunities in the industry for people with varied skill sets.

The days of virtual assistants confined to secretarial tasks and personal assistant services are long gone. You can find the right virtual assistant to manage anything from data entry to online advertising and social media manager.

This is why the first step in hiring a virtual assistant is determining the repetitive tasks or support services you want outsourced.

You have to be more specific in the qualifications and specialization of every applicant so you can find someone who fits the job description.

For example, if you need a VA to manage your Accounting, a daily tasks list would look like this:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Payroll
  • Preparation of financial statements
  • Preparation of invoices
  • Preparation of disbursement schedules

If you are not sure of the specific tasks you want to outsource, you can start out with basic administrative services such as:

  • E-mail filtering
  • Calendar management
  • Handle phone calls
  • Appointment setting
  • Preparation of presentation materials

Once you are more comfortable and confident with the virtual assistant, you can slowly add other tasks or hire a second one.

2 – Create A List Of Skills You Want In A Virtual Assistant

Once you have identified the type of general virtual assistant that you need for your business, create a list of skills you want in specialized virtual assistants.

There are two types of skills:

Hard Skills – There are skills that specifically pertain to the requirements of the job. In our previous example, the ideal hard skills for a virtual assistant that can manage administrative tasks for accounting work would be as follows:

  • Proficient in spreadsheet management
  • Prolific in accounting software such as QuickBooks
  • Efficient data entry skills
  • Good typing skills

Soft Skills – These are the attributes that define your attitude and approach to work. Among the most sought–after soft skills for a virtual assistant are:

  • Leadership and proactive approach to tasks
  • Analytical capabilities for problem solving
  • Punctual with work delivery
  • Great communication skills
  • Organized and attentive

The skills you have identified will become the basis for the qualification process in selecting the best virtual assistant for your business goals.

Earlier, virtual assistants mainly did administrative tasks. Nowadays, however, managers outsource lots of functions to VAs such as digital marketing, web design, or project management. The main benefits of hiring a virtual assistant have reduced costs and a shorter training process.

3 – Qualify at Every Stage of the Selection Process

If you want to improve your chances of finding the right person, you should qualify at every stage of the selection process with clear expectations:

Talent Acquisition Stage

Create a job post that has a specific instruction located at the middle or near the end of the content. For example:

“Write ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ at the upper right-hand corner of your cover letter.”

The best virtual assistants are those who are meticulous in detail. They read instructions carefully to reduce the risk of making mistakes.

Any business owner should disregard applicants who fail to follow instructions, especially when trying to hire a specialized VA.

Conduct Due Diligence

Once you have rounded up all the applicants who followed your prequalifying instruction, subject all of them to due diligence review.

  • Check their online social media accounts and identify potential red flags or irregularities;
  • Do a simple Google search to see if you can pull out any unsavory information on the applicant;
  • Check up on the provided links, portfolios of work, or references.

You’ll be surprised how valuable this step can be. 

Preliminary Interview Process

Round up the candidates who passed due diligence and schedule each one for an interview:

  • It must be an audio and/or video chat interview.
  • If you have the facilities, record the interview.
  • Prepare a list of interview questions. The list of questions must be a mix of those related to the resume, technical subject matter, and focused on personality.

Suppose you want to make the selection process one step further, schedule a paid trial run for your top 2 candidates. Everything else is hypothetical at this point.

A paid trial period of no more than 2 hours per virtual assistant candidate can give you a better perspective of which candidate fits the bill the best. It might also highlight issues with Internet connection and other communication problems. 

Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

4 – Create A Short List of Potential Candidates

As a general rule, most business owners should never contract the services of the first applicant who responds to your job post.

It is not because the first applicant is the worst of the lot. But when you hire a virtual assistant right away, you deny yourself the benefit of comparison through tests and interviews.

When you vet candidates in the different stages of selection, you are separating the wheat from the chaff. The continuous process of elimination improves your chances of hiring the best virtual assistant for your business.

You should arrive at a shortlist of 3 to 5 candidates heading into the interview stage.

5 – Follow the 80-20 Rule

One of the biggest mistakes made by first-time clients is to hire virtual assistants solely by virtue of his or her technical and fundamental qualifications.

Hiring the candidate with the most tenure, certifications, and impressive credentials will not guarantee you the best virtual assistant.

What if that particular candidate turns out to be a head case and causes you more problems than productivity?

The 80-20 Rule advises you to hire a candidate based on 80% personality and 20% technical and fundamental qualifications. The idea behind the rule is that anyone who is committed and dedicated to the job can be trained to achieve optimum proficiency.

But a person whose values, attitudes, and personality traits are contrary to your own will never be productive regardless of his or her technical and fundamental qualifications.

The virtual assistant is the professional to whom you would entrust the services that are paramount to the success of your own business.

At the core of every working engagement, whether brick-and-mortar or virtual, is a relationship between client and service provider with realistic expectations. Trust is one of the cornerstones of a strong relationship.

You have to take the necessary steps to ensure your virtual assistant is not just a person who can manage his or her outsourcing tasks but someone you can work with as well.

Contact Us Today

Most entrepreneurs will have a sense of urgency when it comes to business and project management. And if spending six weeks to hire a virtual assistant sounds too long, then consider letting us take care of the process. 

We are able to provide a VA from our existing team to most small businesses, which will save time and effort, especially if you’re busy with new projects. 

Our existing talent pool of virtual assistants can provide the skill set for general and high value tasks including:

  • Data entry
  • Manage real estate listings
  • Social media management
  • Lead generation
  • Fielding phone calls
  • Email and digital marketing
  • Content creation

And if you need unique or different tasks taken care of, then we can find freelancers with those requirements and take care of the screening, hiring, and training process for you. 

For as little as $7 per hour, you could make a huge step towards extending your business work hours, freeing up your time, and becoming more dollar productive. 

And if you call us today, you could have a virtual assistant based in the Philippines ready to start on their first task in a matter of days. 

Our team is ready to address all of your questions.