We've developed a plan, learned where to hire a virtual assistant, now we are going to get into the actual process of hiring someone. Depending on where you are getting your virtual assistant, you are going to get bombarded with automated bids, emails, and portfolios from individuals and companies that all look like they are great. However, buyer beware! I would argue that the vast majority of them are not what they seem.
English: The most important skill
More often than not, the only prerequisite that you should have is that the person you hire speak perfect or close to perfect English. The only time this may not be the case is when you are hiring a programmer, but even then they must have enough understanding to comprehend your requirements.
Why English? Well, because it is VERY easy to teach someone how to do Internet Marketing, install a WordPress site, or to even create videos for your product. However, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to teach someone English that doesn't already speak it well. That means that if you have a web development company, you'll need to be the one developing the copy if your client wants your help, you'll need to be more diligent in quality checks, and good luck if your business suddenly changes and you need someone to develop content for you.
Be patient and interview
This is a business and not a charity. Yes, that sounds harsh but it's true. You are going to want to hire everyone that emails you. Earlier this year I hired a VA from a Philippine agency. They were charging me 10x what I should have been paying, and when the person I hired wasn't up to par I nearly broke down in tears when I had to fire him (seriously). Had I truly taken the time to interview him for the tasks I had planned I wouldn't have hired him in the first place.
I care a great deal about the people who I hire. So to avoid having to let them go I do the following process:
- I sift through all of the responses I receive and immediately discard any “automatic replies”. If someone doesn't even take the time to write me back personally then I'm not interested.
- If I'm looking for someone to do content for me, I email the best candidates and ask them 2-3 questions that require at least a paragraph response to each.
- I hire one on a month probation period and give them a difficult task.
Why you should hire on probation and give a difficult task
Hiring on probation shows you how the person you hire works under pressure. This, coupled with a difficult first task, really gives you insight into how your VA will work. During this process you should see the following:
- How they will handle doing something completely new. Will they take the initiative to research? Will they need you to hold their hand? Will they run away? (yes, this happens).
- It will show you how they communicate. Do they give you regular updates (if you request it)? Will they ask for help when they need it?
- It helps to establish a solid employer/employee relationship. They'll see you as a boss, rather than just someone looking to a one-time project.
After probation, give them a raise and welcome them
Once they've passed your test, give them a raise – even if it's a small one – and congratulate them. Make them feel as though they are now a permanent employee. This is key to helping them to take ownership of the things that they do in the future. In essence, treat them well and they'll treat you well.
Action item: contact your candidates
Send an email to your best candidates after you weed out the ones that don't fit your business model. Make sure that they answer at least 2-3 questions so you can see how they communicate and if they do indeed have the expertise that you require. Leave a comment on this post and let everyone know some of the responses you've received from your prospective VAs.