As mentioned in yesterday's post, when you hire a new Virtual Assistant the very first thing that you should do is give them a difficult task (I got this great piece of wisdom from John Jonas). The task should be something that directly affects your business, it needs to be something that is just not what the average person would know how to do, and it should be something that is easily researched.
Some difficult task ideas…
Ultimately, the task that you chose depends on you, but here are some things that I've had my VAs do when they first started out:
For my developers:
- Convert a PSD file into HTML.
- Create a complete affiliate site from a Wootheme.
- Do keyword research and find me a niche market based on an interest of their's. (It's good for developers to understand keyword research so they build sites with Search Engine Optimization in mind).
For my content writers:
- Install WordPress in one of my domains (great for non-tech savvy VAs).
- Write an article based on one of my blog posts.
- Write an article based on one of my podcasts.
- Create a video from one of my podcasts and upload it to Youtube.
The sky is really the limit. The point is to make it tough, but not too tough to where they run away, give up, or constantly ask your for help.
What's the point?
You want someone who is going to take the initiative and that is going to communicate with you. The only way to truly find out if they are going to do either of those things is to put them in a situation in where they are under pressure. Most of the time, a good VA is going to try to figure it out themselves. Sometimes you'll run into VAs that are perfectionists and need to clarify things before they start a task. Either type is great. What you want to avoid are those that spend 2-3 days “doing work” only to find that when you contact them, they ask for help or clarification.
Initiative and communication trumps everything.
Personally, I had one prospective web developer spend a couple of days doing a difficult task for me. After the third day I asked him how things were progressing (I had asked him to give me an end of day report upon hiring him, that didn't happen). After not receiving a response to my email for another 24 hours, I moved on. Turns out that he was working on it, and spent about 8 hours doing so, but got stuck and didn't bother to ask for help. (This happens a lot in the Philippines).
What if they can't do it?
Depending on what it is, if they had great initiative or communicated well – I would keep them. Of course, if you plan on creating a web development firm and they can't do a web development task then that's another story.
I hired a VA a few months ago to develop WordPress websites for me. They didn't do that great with the difficult task in terms of skill, but they worked amazingly hard and communicated the entire time. Because of that, I hired them to create affiliate sites (which don't require much in the way of design or code), and to support my content writers with their technical need. Since then, they've been a cornerstone of my business.
Give your newly hired VA a difficult task. Make sure they understand what you want them to do, but don't completely spell out every step for them. When your done, let us know what your task was and how your VA did in accomplishing it in the comments!