5 Tips for Hiring the Right Virtual Assistant

As more companies go hybrid or fully remote, the conversation around how hiring virtual assistant (VA) workers might benefit a business is moving to the forefront. A VA is a person who usually works remotely to take care of various menial and repetitive administrative tasks. The nature of these tasks depends on the central role the employer wants the VA to fulfill.

The benefits of having virtual assistance at hand to help you manage various aspects of your enterprises are many, but they’ll only come if you hire a well-skilled VA. But how do you select the wheat from the chaff?  

The following are a few tips you can keep in mind if you’re eyeing hiring a virtual assistant soon:

1. Identify All The Tasks You Want Outsourced

Virtual assistants can be for any tasks; it doesn’t need to be just for personal assistant services and secretarial duties. A virtual assistant can handle any repetitive task that you need help managing.

You’ll need to be specific about the specific tasks with the role you want to be covered. For example, if you need a VA for your accounting, then their list of tasks might include:

  • Bookkeeping;
  • Financial statements preparation;
  • Invoice preparation;
  • Payroll;
  • Disbursement schedules preparations and the like.

But maybe you aren’t too sure how to define your role, but just know you’d need help; if this is you, then you might want to consider coming up with a list of tasks that fit basic administration, such as:

  • Calendar management;
  • Filtering of emails;
  • Phone call handling;
  • The setting of appointments; and
  • Preparing presentation materials.

Depending on the workload, you may start here and add asks as you go or even hire a second one.

2. Create A List Of Skills You Want In An Assistant

If you want a VA who can fulfill your needs, you need to combine hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are skills specific to their role as a virtual assistant; technical skills that they need to know of in order to be able to carry out their assignments well. Following the last example, if you’re hiring a virtual assistant to handle accounting work, then you want them to:

  • Have mastered spreadsheet management;
  • Be excellent in using essential accounting software;
  • Have impeccable data entry skills; and
  • Be able to type quickly with few errors.

Soft skills, meanwhile, refer to attributes that guide their approach to their role. A good starting list will include:

  • Proactiveness and leadership skills;
  • Analytical skills;
  • Good at delivering under deadlines;
  • Good communication skills; and
  • Excellent organization skills.

In addition, remember that a virtual assistant should be familiar with the use of various virtual meeting platforms. They should be able to conduct online research and perform basic administrative tasks too.

Advanced skills, such as database system maintenance, can greatly enhance a virtual assistant’s value. You may also want to consider looking for someone who’s motivated to contribute to a successful VA’s performance.

3. Qualify At Every Stage Of The Selection Process

When hiring a virtual assistant (VA), you should first ensure that they qualify at every stage of the selection process. While working from a distance, you’ll need to trust them to handle company-specific data. Because of this, you should ensure that the VA you’re considering has verifiable references. Check out their online presence for any red flags and look for client testimonials and feedback on freelancer sites or other platforms.

At the talent acquisition stage, you can try to qualify your candidates by including in your job post instruction somewhere in the middle or at the end for them to follow. Use this as a means to select only the candidates who would have followed this instruction as it points to some degree to their attention to detail.

After selecting a few potential VAs, conduct a phone call screening to narrow your field of options. Ask questions that require you to understand the candidate’s experience level and track record.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, you can then ask the virtual assistant to complete a brief test. This task should take just a few minutes and should test relevant skills, attention to detail, and the ability to follow instructions. Tests are appropriate for general VAs, but specialist VAs may prefer to present samples of their past work instead of answering questions. A test is a useful way to determine whether a virtual assistant is a good fit for your business.

4. Create A Short List of Potential Candidates

Avoid going the first ‘good’ person who applies for the job at all costs. You should note them and still wait for the deadline for applications, then test all your applicants against the above criteria.

Once you do that, it’s time to create a shortlist of potential candidates. You create this shortlist bypassing your candidates through tests from the talent acquisition process and interview, and you might even create a paid trial run for your two top-performing candidates if you want to be really sure.

5. Consider The VA Candidate’s Personality Together With Their Qualifications

When hiring a virtual assistant, you have to keep your personality in mind. You must find someone whose personality meshes with your own and one that has the best potential to positively contribute to your company.

This is very important and can sometimes exceed technical skills in importance because no matter how qualified a candidate is if your personalities clash, they won’t be able to be as productive as you might wish.

So, at the end of the day, you might need to hire someone with fewer qualifications if they are highly self-motivated and commuted because such a person can always be trained and helped to reach optimum efficiency.

A personality test can also help you find out if your virtual assistant is going to be a good fit for your company. You can also ask for their references if they have them.

Post Your Job

Post your VA vacancy everywhere jobs are posted, including on freelancing platforms. You just need to be careful as not everyone is a professional on these platforms, so your getting process will need to be rigorous and pay attention to detail at every step of the way.

After all, you’ll be surrendering key company tasks to the assistant. To ensure things will continue to run well or even improve, you need to optimize your process to attract and identify a good candidate.

Or Consider a Managed Service

Or you could skip through all these stages, and opt for a completely managed service.

One great option is Wing Assistant. Wing offers fully dedicated virtual assistants who work either part-time (4 hours per day) or full-time (8 hours per day) starting at just $499 per month. No contract, no tie-in.

In addition to their virtual assistant, businesses receive access to a dedicated Customer Success Manager, a proprietary task management app, and a surrounding team for additional support.

With a solution like Wing, you can get started with your assistant in as little as 3 days. No interviews, no payroll, no employee tax to manage.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan