Virtual Assistant Interviews: Here’s what Clients Should Look For
If there is one thing you want to get right when hiring a virtual assistant, it’s the interview.
Effective interviewing will improve your chances of finding the right person, and also helps minimise the time spent on VA recruitment and hiring.
Perhaps the first thing to understand is that interviewing a virtual assistant is a little different to interviewing a regular job candidate from the local labour market. For one thing, many VAs are working for themselves as freelancers, so in effect, they are business people as opposed to jobseekers.
The Most Important Things to Look For
Even if you are interviewing virtual assistants employed by a VA company, the person you ultimately hire will be working 100% remotely—and that requires a different skill-set to an employee who will be present in your physical workplace.
This article is a bit different too, compared with many others that cover the topic of interviewing virtual assistants.
We’re not going to present a list of questions to ask, but instead will share what we believe are the most important things to look for when interviewing. This will help you formulate your own questions and frame them in a way that suits your style and preference.
So what exactly should you look for when interviewing a virtual assistant?… The following four attributes should certainly be on your list.
A Service Mentality
A virtual assistant is a service provider, and that’s not the same as an employee. Throughout the interview, try to be mindful of how much the candidate talks about himself, his skills, and his experience.
What you’re looking for is somebody who puts less emphasis on this and instead, steers the conversation around to how he can help you and add value to your business. In fact, the best candidates will ask as many questions as they answer during an interview.
The Right Skills and Abilities
Yes, this probably sounds obvious, but there’s a reason for mentioning it here. Before you start interviewing candidates, it’s vital to be clear in your own mind about what you want your virtual assistant to do for you, both immediately and over the longer term.
Clients sometimes make the mistake of hiring VAs without having a clear sense of the role they want to fill. As a result, they risk hiring virtual assistants who don’t have the appropriate skills—a problem that only surfaces when the client belatedly decides on the VA’s role and begins assigning tasks. That’s when the frustration begins for both client and virtual assistant.
The last thing you want to do is search over and over again for new virtual assistants, but that’s what can happen if you don’t find one who’s committed to the occupation. Many VAs for example, get into the business as a stopgap or stepping-stone on their way to other careers.
Look out for signs that this may be the case because then you can decide if you want to accept the fact that the VA will not be with you for long, or keep looking until you find one who’s truly committed to a long-term arrangement.
Communication Preferences that Match Your Own
Given that your virtual assistant will be working remotely, success will depend upon harmonious communication. This will be easier to achieve if you hire a virtual assistant who’s comfortable with your preferred communication methods.
For example, if you like to communicate primarily via email, it might not be a good idea to hire a virtual assistant who prefers to mainly use Skype voice chat and vice versa.
Prepare the Right Questions
Now you know some of the key characteristics and qualities to look for in a virtual assistant, you should be able to develop some interview questions to evaluate relevant strengths and weaknesses.
Remember that you can discern a lot about VA candidates from the way they answer questions, as well as from the actual answers. That’s why open questions are especially useful in VA interviews.
Open-ended questions encourage interviewees to offer more than the most basic answers. In fact, if you ask the right questions, you won’t need to ask too many, because each response will be full of hints and clues about a candidate’s work ethic and capabilities.
All you have to do is listen carefully, look for the right attributes, and act fast when you find the right candidate—because good virtual assistants don’t stay available for long.