A virtual assistant is an independent worker who assists with administrative, business development, social media, marketing or other tasks. By taking on recurring tasks and administrative work, they free up time for small business owners, entrepreneurs and managers.
The virtual assistant works remotely, often from a home office. Virtual assistants may be US-based but may also be located in another country.
VAs have become incredibly popular with small businesses over the past decade because they are a flexible workforce. A virtual assistant can be part-time or full-time, depending on your requirements. Need 20 hours a week? No problem. Need 30 hours? What about 40? VAs are available.
A full-time VA will be better positioned to learn any special software apps you require, develop cordial relationships with co-workers and customers, and grow with you as the business grows.
Some virtual assistants work as independent freelancers. Others are part of a company or agency where you hire the company to provide a flexible workforce. When you work with a virtual assistant company, you dealing with a manager who will discuss your needs and find the best fit.
But how do you choose the perfect virtual assistant for you? Here are some questions to help you identify the person that can fulfill your specific needs and job requirements.
1. What would you say are your primary skills?
Job applicants do their best to come across as the best candidate in their resumés or CVs and cover letters. Having a lot of choices makes it hard for any employer to figure out who among them is actually the right one for him or her.
Asking the potential VAs about their primary skills lets you find out how much they really know about their chosen fields. Get them to tell you as much as they can. The more you know about their skill sets the better your decision will be about whom among them to hire.
2. What tools do you use in your work?
You and the VA you would choose need several things to work together besides Microsoft Office. Those include a project management tool like Asana, a telecommunications app like Skype and a password manager like LastPass.
Unless you will train her, your VA needs to know how to use all the tools to be able to work efficiently.
3. What is your preferred schedule?
If you are not from the same country, keep in mind that your VA lives in a different time zone. Ask whether she would agree to work to your schedule. Being available when you are lets you easily communicate. The easier you can reach each other the quicker you can respond. Responding quickly prevents delays and makes sure all the tasks are done on time.
4. What would you do if you could not perform a task?
Like traditional business owners with their employees, online business owners hire VAs to do most of their tasks. Delegating most of their responsibilities lets them focus not only on things related to their business that require them to be hands-on, like meeting with investors. It also lets them take care of personal things themselves, like driving their kids to soccer practice.
There are going to be times when you need to be away to handle such things yourself. So your business keeps running smoothly, you need a VA who is skilled, experienced or resourceful enough to solve minor problems herself.
5. What would you do if you have a deadline and your computer suddenly crashed?
According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. As such, it is important to gauge the applicant’s preparedness in case of accidents. Your VA should have a contingency plan in place to ensure that deadlines will be met and important tasks will be completed, no matter what the circumstances are.
What project management tools have you used? What was your experience with them?
A project management tool, like Basecamp and Asana, are at the heart of your company. They keep you organized and help your team understand their tasks at hand and due dates. Go ahead and get on the same page here.
6. Do you have references I can contact?
While there are virtual assistants who have reviews and testimonials you can read on their blogs or website, it is still important to contact the applicant’s previous clients who can vouch for his professionalism so you can validate his claims. If there is any sign of hesitation on the applicant’s end when you ask this question, you might want to think twice before hiring that person.
7. What are your interests? What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Not only will these questions let you know the things your VA is passionate about, which is something that can be quite handy in the future, they also say a lot of things about you as an employer.
Interviews are a vital aspect of the hiring process, whether you’re hiring a virtual assistant or a member of your in-house staff. They let you know what an applicant is like, what motivates him, and what makes him tick. So don’t go hiring people without asking them these vital questions to ensure that the virtual assistant you’ll choose will fit your business like a glove.